The 80s saw big changes for Kiss. I really like the first 3 Kiss albums, and of course Alive; but after that albums weren’t as strong song wise, and by 1980 they’d done everything – including solo albums, 2 live albums, compilations, disco, pop, and changed drummers!
The new drummer, taking over for Peter Criss would be Eric Carr. And I think Eric’s heavy Bonham influenced playing was what the band needed going into the 80s. The band would drop the make up and costumes in 83 and carry on making albums regularly. 80s Kiss albums were often marred by bad cover art, and some cringeworthy lyrics. It’s a shame the band didn’t record a live album during Eric’s time with the band, and show fans how much he added as a heavy player and an occasional singer . Sadly he passed away on November 24 , 1991. Here’s my own Top 10 of favorites Kiss tunes recorded during the Eric Carr era.
Creatures Of The Night
Creatures of the Night was Kiss at their heaviest. And it’s the title track that opens the album and comes out blazing; great dark heavy rocker, great performances, including Steve Ferris’ [Mr MIster] guitar solo.
The first album to feature Eric Carr, and well… what were they thinking!? I actually really like Music From The Elder, but it’s an odd concept for a Kiss album, so it flopped, and many critics, fans, and even bandmembers probably don’t look back on it kindly. The Oath is a good galloping fast-paced rock track to open the album, with some falsetto from Paul Stanley on the chorus, a splash of keyboards… Very different, but a classic, IMO.
King Of The Mountain
Asylum from 1985 was a vast improvement on Animalize, I thought. Though it still had that familiarity in a few of the more ‘radio rock’ tracks in Tears Are Falling and Who Wants To Be Lonely. It’s the opener that is [again] I’ll take here. Cool drum intro from Eric Carr, great rockin tune. First LP with Bruce Kulick as well. Shitty album cover.
Reason To Live
1987’s Crazy Nights saw Kiss lighten up their sound with a more AOR approach, a bit of keyboards, and more of those 80s backing vocals. I think this album was not a favorite to many, but I liked it, especially Side 2. Reason To Live being the first single, great tune, a bit syrupy, but cool.
Nowhere To Run
This was included on the European compilation Killers, which included 4 new rock tracks. A bit of a stop-gap following the flip of The Elder. Guitars by Bob Kulick. Nowhere To Run featuring a killer riff, reminiscent of Paul Stanley’s Tonight You Belong To Me (also played by Bob K, and Rich Kid by Billy Squier – played by Bruce Kulick).
I Still Love You
From Creatures Of The Night. One of a few here co-written with Vinnie Vincent. A classic heavy ballad. One of Paul Stanley’s better vocals,
Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell
From the last album of the 80s – Hot In The Shade. A long album, and a more commercial approach with songs like King Of Hearts and the ballad Forever [uhhg!]. Like this one from Gene, a good mid paced rock tune; great chorus.
Opening track to Lick It Up. Sure, the title track was a hit and huge on MTV, but Exciter tries to [and comes close to] run on the same dark heavy energy as Creatures Of The Night. Great opener.
Also from Hot In The Shade. This is one Eric Carr wrote and sang lead on. Neat rocker, a bit rougher than most of the tracks on this album. Too bad the band didn’t choose a few more of his songs here (see his posthumous solo release Rockology)
Thrills In The Night
From Animalize, which followed up on the ‘success’ of Lick It Up. Not a great album, but it had a few stand out moments, such as the hit Heaven’s On Fire and this one. Great solo intro [almost like a Scorpions song], great solo from Mark St John [RIP], and Eric Carr really pounds this song. Cheesy video, shitty album cover.