Thursday, September 10, 2009

CD Odyssey Disc 31: KISS

The CD Odyssey this week is taking a blast to the past. Before I get there, I announcement!

I am going to fill my Zen with songs from the most recent entries. That way, I'll keep mixing up my MP3 player with tracks from what I've recently reviewed. Obviously certain artists must never be removed (BOC, Alice Cooper, Steve Earle) so I'll need to arrive at a reasonable balance - plus my Zen holds but 430 or so songs. At first, I saw this as a disadvantage, but now I see opportunity.

But I digress.

Disc 31 is...Lick It Up

Artist: KISS

Year of Release: 1983

How I Came To Know It: I've known KISS a long time - the first album I ever bought was a KISS record (I'll talk about that when I roll it). My brother bought Lick It Up when it came out, and I taped it off of him (ah, TDK - the piracy of the eighties).

How It Stacks Up: I don't have all of KISS' albums, but I've got a lot (10). I would say this is near the bottom. Maybe 9th (I'll discuss #10 when I roll it).

Rating: 2 stars with a thumbs up.

Lick It Up is one of those albums that seemed to proliferate in the early to mid-eighties. Great seventies rock bands feeling the pressure to sound more "metal" and appeal to a new generation. Other examples that come to mind would be Alice Cooper's 1986 offering "Constrictor" and Black Sabbath's "Born Again" also from 1983.

Ironically, while I was a huge heavy metal meat-head back in those days, I already liked all the bands vying for my affection.

Lick It Up is the "no make-up" album as well. Also, it is another album minus two original members (Peter Criss is replaced by Eric Carr and Ace Frehley by Vinnie Vincent). While I didn't (and don't) miss Peter Criss, this album does lack Ace's musical genius on the guitar.

Paul Stanley is still great, and remains a very unique hard rock voice. Even the songs Gene Simmons sings (I think he does "Not For the Innocent" and "And On The 8th Day") are strong.

Generally though, this album is uneven. There are 4 good tracks, an equal number of pretty bad tracks and a couple that aren't memorable either way.

KISS can still write some of the most ridiculously suggestive lyrics ever. Consider "Not For the Innocent"

I'm mean and I'm dirty, like none you've ever seen.
Bad habits drip like honey, no tongue can lick me clean.

Hilarious, and suitably shocking to be enjoyable in Grade 8. OK even now it is still kind of fun.

KISS was once my favourite band - but I was 8. This album is still fun in places, but doesn't really do them justice like their classics do.

That's OK, though - it was fun to be reminded of what life was like when I was 13, and I liked this album a lot more than I do now.

Best tracks: Not For The Innocent, Lick It Up, All Hell's Breakin' Loose, And On The 8th Day

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