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Rock - Verschenen op 23 mei 1979 | UMe Direct 2

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Dynasty marked the first time that the original four members of Kiss didn't all appear together for the entire album -- session drummer Anton Fig subbed for Peter Criss due to the latter's erratic behavior and injuries sustained in a serious car crash. And even though it was a platinum-plus smash, Dynasty marked the beginning of Kiss' unfocused period, which would ultimately end in a nosedive of the band's popularity, as well as Criss and Ace Frehley leaving the band by 1982. In latter-day interviews, the band admitted that they started to listen to outsiders about what direction the music should go around the time of Dynasty. And since small children were a large part of Kiss' audience by 1979 (due to merchandising and the God-awful TV movie Kiss Meets the Phantom), the band began backing away from heavy metal and embracing pop. Included is their hit disco experiment, "I Was Made for Loving You" (which was no better or worse than any other rock-meets-disco experiment of the late '70s), as well as "Sure Know Something," a melodic pop/rocker that should have also been a smash. Many other tracks would have been better if they weren't so glossed up (due to producer Vini Poncia), such as "Charisma," "Magic Touch," "Hard Times," and a great reworked cover of the Rolling Stones obscurity "2,000 Man." Not a horrible album (that distinction would go to 1981's Music from "The Elder"), but certainly not on par with such classics as Hotter Than Hell, Destroyer, or Love Gun. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 14 oktober 1997 | UMe Direct 2

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Rock - Verschenen op 15 maart 1976 | UMe Direct 2

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The pressure was on Kiss for their fifth release, and the band knew it. Their breakthrough, Alive!, was going to be hard to top, so instead of trying to recreate a concert setting in the studio, they went the opposite route. Destroyer is one of Kiss' most experimental studio albums, but also one of their strongest and most interesting. Alice Cooper/Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin was on hand, and he strongly encouraged the band to experiment -- there's extensive use of sound effects (the album's untitled closing track), the appearance of a boy's choir ("Great Expectations"), and an orchestra-laden, heartfelt ballad ("Beth"). But there's plenty of Kiss' heavy thunder rock to go around, such as the demonic "God of Thunder" and the sing-along anthems "Flaming Youth," "Shout It Out Loud," "King of the Night Time World," and "Detroit Rock City" (the latter a tale of a doomed concert-goer, complete with violent car-crash sound effects). But it was the aforementioned Peter Criss ballad, "Beth," that made Destroyer such a success; the song was a surprise Top Ten hit (it was originally released as a B-side to "Detroit Rock City"). Also included is a song that Nirvana would later cover ("Do You Love Me?"), as well as an ode to the pleasures of S&M, "Sweet Pain." Destroyer also marked the first time that a comic-book illustration of the band appeared on the cover, confirming that the band was transforming from hard rockers to superheroes. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 10 september 1975 | UMe Direct 2

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Alive! was the album that catapulted Kiss from cult attraction to mega-superstars. It was their first Top Ten album, remaining on the charts for 110 weeks. Culled from shows in Detroit, New Jersey, Iowa, and Cleveland on the Dressed to Kill tour, the record features producer Eddie Kramer doing a masterful job of capturing the band's live performance on record. The band's youthful energy is contagious, and with positively electric versions of their best early material, it's no mystery why Alive! is widely regarded as one of the greatest live hard rock recordings of all time. "Rock and Roll All Nite" became a Top 20 smash and was the main reason for the album's success, but there are many other tracks that are just as strong -- "Deuce," "Strutter," "Firehouse," "Parasite," "She," "100,000 Years," "Black Diamond," and "Cold Gin" all shine in a live setting. Although there's been some speculation of extensive overdubbing to correct mistakes, Alive! remains Kiss' greatest album ever. An essential addition to any rock collection. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 18 februari 1974 | UMe Direct 2

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Kiss' 1974 self-titled debut is one of hard rock's all-time classic studio recordings. Kiss is chock full of their best and most renowned compositions, containing elements of Rolling Stones/New York Dolls party-hearty rock & roll, Beatles tunefulness, and Sabbath/Zep heavy metal, and wisely recorded primal and raw by producers Richie Wise and Kenny Kerner (of Gladys Knight fame). Main songwriters Stanley and Simmons each had a knack for coming up with killer melodies and riffs, as evidenced by "Nothin' to Lose" and "Deuce" (by Simmons), "Firehouse" and "Black Diamond" (by Stanley), as well as "Strutter" and "100,000 Years" (collaborations by the two). Also included is the Ace Frehley alcohol anthem "Cold Gin," "Let Me Know" (a song that Stanley played for Simmons upon their very first meeting, then titled "Sunday Driver"), and one of Kiss' few instrumentals: the groovy "Love Theme from Kiss" (penned by the entire band). The only weak track is a tacky cover of the 1959 Bobby Rydell hit "Kissin' Time," which was added to subsequent pressings of the album to tie in with a "Kissing Contest" promotion the band was involved in at the time. Along with 1976's Destroyer, Kiss' self-titled debut is their finest studio album, and has only improved over the years. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 19 maart 1975 | UMe Direct 2

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By the release of their third album, 1975's Dressed to Kill, Kiss were fast becoming America's top rock concert attraction, yet their record sales up to this point did not reflect their ticket sales. Casablanca label head Neil Bogart decided to take matters into his own hands, and produced the new record along with the band. The result is more vibrant sounding than its predecessor, 1974's sludgefest Hotter Than Hell, and the songs have more of an obvious pop edge to them. The best-known song on the album by far is the party anthem "Rock and Roll All Nite," but it was the track "C'Mon and Love Me" that became a regional hit in the Detroit area, giving the band their first taste of radio success. Since the band was on the road for a year straight, songs such as "Room Service" and "Ladies in Waiting" dealt with life on the road (i.e., groupies), and a pair of songs were reworked from Kiss' precursor band, Wicked Lester ("Love Her All I Can" and "She"). With Dressed to Kill's Top 40 showing on the Billboard charts, the stage was now set for Kiss' big commercial breakthrough with their next release. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 12 maart 1996 | UMe Direct 2

After sinking deep into this musical celebration, even the not-so-avid listener will surely know something more about Kiss, a classic rock icon of the '70s roaring back in vibrant and passionate form. This recording of a session done expressly for the program MTV Unplugged in 1996 brought together a special group for a remarkable, if unexpected, reunion. Throughout this record, you can feel the support and raw adoration of the audience present, certainly a mixture of long-time fans and new admirers. The members of Kiss got together to rock hard on their axes and crash big on the drums, bringing a renewed sense of freshness and excitement. Nearly rock & roll legends, they exceeded expectations and, given their newfound energy, charisma, and love for the music, their performance provided the catalyst for the beginning of a successful world reunion tour. "Coming Home" delivers a feverish and electric opening that gets the crowd on its feet in a hurry. Soon the emotion and presence of this group are brought back with startling grace and wisdom on "Plaster Caster," and the beautiful acoustic medley "Goin' Blind." The decades of Kiss, their costumes, and their wild stadium shows roll back in a heartbeat through the crashing tune "Do You Love Me." Perhaps one of the most bewildering tunes that really reflects the image of Kiss is the rocking blues tune "Domino." The crowd is really fired up now, next experiencing the charming and soulful power rock ballad "Sure Know Something." "A World Without Heroes" is very subdued and reflective. "Rock Bottom" is delicate and mysterious in the opening seconds, with a lush minor harmony delivered picking style on the acoustic. "Now it gets rough," expresses Stanley, grooving in a racy blues statement. "See You Tonight" is a romantic and pretty ballad delivered with sweetness, and the group sings, "I'll see you tonight/And if I can't, I'll cry, I'll cry/I see you tonight, outside." Then on comes the darker resonance of the band with "I Still Love You," expressing grave longing after a grueling breakup. "I got to make you see," is a gripping line in a haunting bridge section, before the shouted, emotional, sometimes painful chorus: "Girl, it seems the price I have of losing you/Will be my hell to pay/It makes me want to die/'Cause I still love you." The solo during the bridge is reminiscent of the chord structure of the Guess Who's "Undun." After this painful, depressing song, new breath is found with "Every Time I Look at You," a song of forgiveness, delivered with sincerity and the feeling of hope: "Every time I hold you/The things I never told you seem to come easily/'Cause you're everything to me." The bridge is brilliant and seems to elevate the melody to a gratifying level, before breaking into a chilling guitar improv, layered over with a shimmering string orchestra. "Beth" is the most heartwarming song of Kiss' power ballads: "Beth I know you're lonely/And I hope you'll be alright/'Cause me and the boys will be playing all night." Finally, a Kiss show wouldn't be complete without the ultimate party song, "Rock and Roll All Night," a tune still electric without electric guitars. © Shawn Haney /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 10 oktober 1982 | UMe Direct 2

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By 1982's Creatures of the Night, Kiss had finally ditched their plans of becoming "respectable artists" (starting with 1979's Dynasty) and had come to the realization that they were a loud, no-holds-barred heavy metal band. Easily their best since 1977's Love Gun, Creatures of the Night contains very little filler and sounds as if Kiss had been reborn (it also includes one of the heaviest drum sounds ever captured in the studio by any rock band). The band is inspired and enthusiastic throughout, especially on such rockers as the opening title track, "Killer," "War Machine," "Saint and Sinner," and one of their great anthems, "I Love It Loud." Also included is one of Kiss' better ballads, "I Still Love You" (later featured on 1996's Unplugged set), as well as "Rock and Roll Hell," a song written about Ace Frehley, who would soon officially make his resignation from the band public. Guitarist Vinnie Vincent (real name: Vinnie Cusano) handles guitar duties here and was eventually named as Frehley's replacement, playing on the ensuing tour. Although Creatures of the Night deserved to be the album that put Kiss back on top of the charts, it performed below expectations (topping out at number 45), as did its tour. Hence, the album is one of Kiss' most underrated. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the makeup had grown stale and was now getting in the way of their music. The time had finally come for the band to unmask. [Creatures of the Night was later reissued in 1985 with a different cover (non-makeup) and remixed. But when all of Kiss' albums were remastered and re-released on CD in 1996, the original 1982 version was used.] © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 22 oktober 1974 | UMe Direct 2

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Although Kiss' self-titled debut performed respectably on the charts, it was not the blockbuster they had hoped for. With the album fading on the charts in the summer of 1974, Kiss was summoned back into the studio to work on a follow-up. Producers Richie Wise and Kenny Kerner were onboard again, and even though the sonics are muddier (and more filler is present in the compositions), Hotter Than Hell is another quintessential Kiss release. Many of the songs have been forgotten over the years (few have been featured in concert after the '70s), but there are still more than a few gems to be found. It's unclear if the members of Kiss were having problems with their personal relationships at the time, but it's a common thread that runs through the songs. The plodding "Got to Choose" and the rapid-fire "Parasite" deal with love gone bad; the title track is about unobtainable love, while "Goin' Blind" is a disturbing tale of a 93-year-old having an affair with a 16-year-old. Also included are the early favorites "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll" and "Watchin' You," as well as the original electric version of "Comin' Home" (an acoustic version was the opener of 1996's MTV Unplugged) and "Strange Ways," which contains one of Ace Frehley's best guitar solos. Even though Hotter Than Hell actually fared worse on the charts than the debut, it has become a revered album among Kiss fans over the years -- and rightfully so. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 14 oktober 1977 | UMe Direct 2

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For Kiss' breakthrough 1975 release Alive!, the band had a total of three studio albums from which to select their in-concert repertoire. By mid-1977, Kiss had released another three studio recordings (Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over, and Love Gun), and with a new Kiss album needed for the holiday season, a second live album, Alive II, was assembled. Three sides were recorded live in concert at the Los Angeles Forum (with a few tracks recorded in Japan), while the fourth side featured five new studio recordings. Like its predecessor, there's been quite a lot of speculation concerning extensive overdubbing (the proof being that you can often hear several Paul Stanley voices singing backup simultaneously!), but Alive II shows that Kiss was still an exciting live band despite all the hype. Adrenaline-charged versions of "Detroit Rock City," "Love Gun," "Calling Dr. Love," "Shock Me," "God of Thunder," "I Want You," and "Shout It Out Loud" are all highlights. On the fourth side, Ace Frehley only plays on a single song (his self-penned classic "Rocket Ride") for reasons unknown, while session guitarist Bob Kulick filled in for the AWOL Frehley. Among the studio tracks is the made-for-the-stage anthem "Larger Than Life," which the band surprisingly never performed live. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 1 mei 1982 | UMe Direct 2

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1981's The Elder was such a bomb worldwide that Kiss' record company outside the U.S., Casablanca/Phonogram, demanded that the band immediately assemble another greatest-hits package to prove to their befuddled fans that they were still a heavy metal group, not experimental prog rockers. Since a greatest-hits set was issued just four years prior in the form of the double LP Double Platinum, the band decided to include four brand-new tracks along with some hits, under the title of Killers (a single album). The new tracks ("I'm a Legend Tonight," "Down on Your Knees," "Nowhere to Run," "Partners in Crime") resembled the Kiss of old more than anything the band had released for a few years by this point (again, guitarist Bob "Alive II" Kulick subs for Ace Frehley). The only hits on Killers that hadn't already appeared on Double Platinum were "I Was Made for Loving You," "Sure Know Something," and "Rock and Roll All Nite (Live)"; the rest were repeats ("Love Gun," "Detroit Rock City," "God of Thunder," "Cold Gin," and "Shout It out Loud"). Killers didn't accomplish what the record company hoped it would -- re-establishing Kiss as chart-toppers -- but it did show their fans outside the U.S. that the band meant business again. [The Australian and Japanese versions of Killers include a slightly different track listing.] © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 1 oktober 1987 | UMe Direct 2

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Since Kiss' 1987 album, Crazy Nights, was their most pop-accessible album until then, a total of three video clips were issued, which are all featured on the home video of the same name. While the videos aren't exactly the best the band has ever produced, they were very popular with MTV viewers: all appeared regularly on the network's viewer request program at the time. The first video, "Crazy, Crazy Nights," is a no-frills clip of the quartet lip-syncing the anthemic song to an auditorium full of excited fans, while the second one, "Reason to Live," is a ballad that features clips of an attractive blonde seeking revenge on her unfaithful lover, Mr. Paul Stanley (!), while the band plays the song. The final clip, "Turn on the Night," is one of the album's most keyboard-heavy tracks, and follows the set-up of the second video for the most part -- a female fan is shown enjoying a concert by the band while Kiss plays away. Besides the three clips, no other footage is featured, which makes the Crazy Nights video of interest to Kiss completists only. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 24 april 1978 | UMe Direct 2

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Rock - Verschenen op 22 juli 2003 | Sanctuary Records

It has to be quite a thrill to count off "one, two, three, four...hit it!" and have a full orchestra launch into the same power chord you are. Kiss got to experience it during a one-off show with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Alive IV is the document. The band is continuing the makeup revival that started in 1996, but Ace Frehley has moved on, taking his oddball tunes and loose attitude with him. In a move that fans might see as sacrilege, former Black 'n' Blue guitarist Tommy Thayer has assumed the role of the Spaceman, and the Melbourne show was his debut. Considering the monolithic pressure put upon him, it's no surprise he plays it straight, often too straight. It's just one of the disappointments on an album dragged down by a muddy mix and under-rehearsed interaction of band and orchestra. Kiss plays without the orchestra for the first six numbers, most of which have shown up in better versions on the first two editions of Alive. Gene Simmons' bass is pushed further down in the mix than ever, and only the most die-hard fan would want a live version of "Psycho Circus." The Melbourne Symphony Ensemble joins for the rest of the first disc, accompanying retreads of MTV Unplugged performances minus the excitement of a freshly reunited Kiss. Simmons' vocal is an embarrassment as it struggles through "Goin' Blind," but the appearance of Unmasked's "Shandi" is a pleasant surprise. The extra strings work fine over this easygoing chamber version of Kiss. The full orchestra shows up, in Kiss makeup of course, for the whole of the second disc. It sounds more bloated than bombastic as the mix ping-pongs between crunchy guitars and disco-style string and horn flourishes. Other than the inspired counterpoint in "God of Thunder" and "Love Gun," the orchestra is given little to do but imitate the band's simple melodies. In an especially wicked moment, Destroyer's arrangement of "Great Expectations" reappears with its unwholesome mix of children's choir and groupies-in-waiting lyrical content. A couple other grand moments make the record more satisfying than the pointless Alive III. Sadly absent is Frehley's cool demeanor, always a relief from Simmons and Paul Stanley's pompous swagger. He's definitely missed on Alive IV and a 60-piece orchestra can't make up for it. [Sanctuary reissued the album in 2008.] © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 30 juni 1977 | UMe Direct 2

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Love Gun was Kiss' fifth studio album in three years (and seventh release overall, peaking at number four on Billboard), and proved to be the last release that the original lineup played on. By 1977, Kiss merchandise was flooding the marketplace (lunch boxes, makeup kits, comic books, etc.), and it would ultimately lead to a Kiss backlash in the '80s. But the band was still focused on their music for Love Gun, similar in sound and approach to Rock and Roll Over, their previous straight-ahead rock release. It included Ace Frehley's lead vocals on "Shock Me," as well as one of Kiss' best and most renowned hard rockers in the thunderous title track. The album's opener, "I Stole Your Love," also served as the opening number on Kiss' ensuing tour, while "Christine Sixteen" is one of the few Kiss tracks to contain piano prominently. "Almost Human" is an underrated rocker and features a great Jimi Hendrix-esque guitar solo from Frehley (no doubt due to ex-Hendrix producer Eddie Kramer manning the boards again), while "Plaster Caster" is a tribute to the famous groupies of the same name. The only weak spots on an otherwise stellar album are an obvious "Rock and Roll All Nite" ripoff titled "Tomorrow and Tonight," and a pointless remake of the Phil Spector-penned classic "Then He Kissed Me" (reworked as "Then She Kissed Me"). © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 1 juni 1980 | UMe Direct 2

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Although Unmasked was certified gold shortly after its release in the U.S., it quickly fell off the charts. Deciding factors included the band's failure to mount a stateside tour, the fact that the majority of the compositions on Unmasked were easily forgettable, and longtime fans' weariness with Kiss' attempts to branch out into other musical styles. Vini Poncia was on board as producer again, and again he replaces the raw, heavy rock of earlier Kiss releases with pop gloss. Several tracks are indeed strong, and would have benefited greatly by a more direct sound, such as "Is That You?," "Talk to Me," "Two Sides of the Coin," "Naked City," and the single, "Shandi." But there's more filler on Unmasked than the average Kiss release -- "What Makes the World Go 'Round," "Tomorrow," and "She's So European" are tedious and predictable, both compositionally and sonically. Again, session drummer Anton Fig fills in for Peter Criss, who would officially split from the band soon after the album's release (eventually replaced by Eric Carr). Although the band's popularity dwindled in their homeland, they embarked on a massively successful European and Australian tour, where Unmasked was a huge hit, until year's end. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 18 september 1983 | UMe Direct 2

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Due to the underachievement of their exceptional 1982 comeback album, Creatures of the Night, Kiss knew the time was right to drop the makeup, so in September 1983 the band shocked their fans by unmasking on MTV. Their first non-makeup album, Lick It Up, followed soon after and successfully re-established the band among the heavy metal masses worldwide. Kiss also reconnected with their stateside fans -- Lick It Up was the band's first record to achieve gold status since 1980's Kiss Unmasked. The album's success was spurred by MTV's repeated airing of the imaginative video for the album's strong title track, and songs such as "Exciter," "Not for the Innocent," "A Million to One," and the rap-rocker "All Hell's Breaking Loose" confirmed that the band was back on the right track. Vinnie Vincent again proved to be a worthy replacement to original guitarist Ace Frehley but would unfortunately leave the band after the completion of the Lick It Up worldwide tour (eventually resurfacing with the Vinnie Vincent Invasion in the late '80s). Lick It Up is undoubtedly Kiss' best non-makeup album. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 11 november 1976 | UMe Direct 2

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With the massive success of their previous album, the experimental Bob Ezrin-produced Destroyer (which contained the surprise ballad hit "Beth"), Kiss could have taken the safe route and continued in that direction -- or return to the raw hard rock of their first four albums. They chose the latter. Hooking back up with Eddie Kramer, the producer of their 1975 breakthrough release Alive! and their very first demo, Kiss rented out the Nanuet Star Theater in upstate New York to record their next album, Rock and Roll Over. With a more direct, in-your-face production, Rock and Roll Over is one of Kiss' most consistent records. Two of the album's best tracks became hit singles -- the sleazy hard rocker "Calling Dr. Love" and an acoustic ballad that was originally intended for Rod Stewart, "Hard Luck Woman" (later covered by country star Garth Brooks). But like all other classic rock albums, the lesser-known material is often just as strong -- "I Want You" and "Makin' Love" became concert staples over the years, while "Mr. Speed" is one of the most underrated songs in Kiss' catalogue. Also included are the fan favorites "Take Me," "Ladies Room," "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em," and the original version of "See You in Your Dreams," which was later re-recorded for Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 13 september 1984 | UMe Direct 2

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With two strong albums back to back (Creatures of the Night and Lick It Up), Kiss fans were confident that the band's next album would be just as good. Although 1984's Animalize was a big hit (eventually going double platinum), it was the beginning of the band's second unfocused period. Instead of leading the heavy metal pack with raw hard rock (i.e., their classic albums from the '70s), in the mid- to late '80s, Kiss seemed to be copying other successful pop-metal bands (Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, etc.), both musically and visually. Mark St. John replaced the departed Vinnie Vincent on guitar (guitarist number three in a span of three years) and proved to be a highly technical player, the complete opposite of original member Ace Frehley's straight-ahead style. Still, there were a few strong compositions on Animalize, such as the MTV hit "Heaven's on Fire" and two heavy tracks: the opener, "I've Had Enough (Into the Fire)," and "Under the Gun." But by this point, bassist Gene Simmons was more interested in pursuing an acting career than being an integral member of Kiss, so many of his compositions are either forgettable ("While the City Sleeps") or just plain embarrassing (the Spinal Tap-esque "Burn Bitch Burn"). Although a commercial success, Animalize was not nearly as strong as its two predecessors. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Verschenen op 1 januari 1993 | UMe Direct 2

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