Tidal Catalog #37: Kiss

Introduction: For those of you that have stumbled across this website and are interested in reading about my trek through the universe of the Tidal streaming service, let me tell you a bit about what I did. Back in 2016 I thought it would be kind of cool to listen to an artist’s catalog from start to finish and rank them from best to worst. After all, who doesn’t like a good list? I thought I might do a few of them and see what happened, hoping it would introduce me to records that were foreign to me in the arsenal of an artist I was familiar with. I also thought that it would be pretty cool to get out of the “one off” mode of listening to a new record, years after the previous one, in order to get a true sense of how the artist matured over time. Fast forward to June of 2019 and 250 catalogs later, I ended the trek. I posted these all on Facebook over the years as they were completed but I’m going to move them all over here, starting with #1, in order to expand them out a bit more. Facebook doesn’t exactly allow for too many details.

As with all my catalogs, to be considered in the ranking, an album has to meet certain criteria:

  • The artist must actually perform on 80% of the tracks (soundtrack and rap provision)
  • No compilations of previous released material will be included.
  • However, compilations of previously recorded material will be included if they are remixes, bonus tracks, outtakes… mostly music that hasn’t been part of a main release before.
  • The album must have been released officially and within the realm of the label that the artist would have been on at the time or official releases posthumously (normally applies to a slew of live records)
  • Any EPs must contain new new music and be relevant to the catalog, not be more like a single with a b-side or two.

Entrance Point: I was never a Kiss fan growing up but maybe that was because I was a child of the 80s and collecting 80s music, led me to their really shitty albums first. I also have never seen them live, so never got the Kiss experience. So honestly, I came into this one expecting the worst.

Included: The four solo records from 1978 as they are as much a part of Kiss lore as many of their other records.

All albums ranked on a 10 scale:

  • Kiss – Alive! (9.5)

You’re going to see that I don’t have a whole lot to talk about in this catalog – simply because Kiss don’t mean anything to me like they do millions of people in this country. Had I seen them live, maybe they would. Had this album not come out in 1975, one year before I was born, I might have. But apart from “Rock and Roll All-Nite” and maybe “Deuce” on this album, the songs don’t hold any deep meaning for me. I give this a 9.5 out of respect more than anything else. I enjoyed the record and I’d bet it does capture the energy of the live show but are the songs really that good? I don’t know really but what I do know is that in a very average to poor catalog, Alive! is the top of the heap and surely one of the better live albums in history.

  • Kiss – Kiss (9)

The self titled debut album is the best studio album in the catalog simply because the songwriting was top notch on this one. Kiss got their best 10 songs out of the way early and it was all downhill from there. I’ve never thought any of these guys were great musicians and I would find it hard for anyone to argue that, no matter what your opinion of the band is but the four original members play off each other well on this one and the entire album rocks. “Strutter” is a great introduction to the band and “Nothin’ Left To Lose” and “Deuce” still sound pretty solid today. If you want Kiss at their most creative in the studio, this is where you should go.

  • Creatures of the Night (9)

1982’s Creatures of the Night is the only true metal album in Kiss’ catalog. Apart from the silly first single “I Love It Loud,” the album has the heaviest riffs of any album in the catalog. This was the first record for Vinny Vincent and he brought the heaviness for sure. And the ballad, “I Still Love You” might actually be the best song on the disc in the end. Tracks like “Creatures of the Night” “Killer” and especially “War Machine” might not have stood the test of time but they are fierce tracks on a sneaky good metal disc for the early 80s.

  • Love Gun (9)
  • Dressed To Kill (8.5)
  • Hotter Than Hell (8)
  • Dynasty (8)

Dynasty is an awesome album in a sort of half-assed Kiss way. It’s their 1979 disco record and it’s fun as hell! But disco just isn’t Kiss and so, in putting a ranking to this, I couldn’t place it as high as I would have had this been any other group because it’s just kiss. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” is as much Kiss as any other song when you look back in history but it’s fucking jolting when you’ve listened to a mess of rock records in a row. But I love both “Charisma” which is only one of two songs that Gene Simmons sung and “Hard Times” which is a rock written and sung by Ace Frehley. About half of this are pretty fun rock songs and half disco tunes but it’s just the type of album for a non-Kiss fan like me to enjoy.

  • Lick It Up (8)
  • Ace Frehley (8)

Dynasty was the first Kiss album that Ace sang lead on but a year earlier, the world got a full taste of his vocals on what was easily (and I mean by a long shot) the best of the Kiss solo records. Ace’s record is the one that stays the closest to the Kiss sound, filled with well constructed rockers and a bit of power pop as well. I think it was clear after these four solo records that Frehley was the most talented musician in the band and that the other band members were clearly better together than separated.

  • Unmasked (7.5)
  • Alive II (7.5)
  • Rock and Roll Over (7)
  • Monster (7)
  • Kiss Rocks Vegas (6.5)
  • Destroyer (6)
  • Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (6)
  • Music from the Elder (6)
  • Carnival of Souls (5.5)
  • Animalize (5.5)
  • Gene Simmons (5)
  • Sonic Boom (4.5)
  • MTV Unplugged (4.5)
  • Alive III (4)
  • Crazy Nights (2.5)
  • Peter Criss (2.5)
  • Paul Stanley (2)
  • Psycho Circus (2)
  • Asylum (1.5)
  • Hot in the Shade (1)

Yes, I did just drop down 20 records to talk about Hot in the Shade next. Why? Because those 20 are all just average-to-poor generic Kiss records. There’s really very little that stands out on any of them. That’s not the case all the way down here though. This was 1989 when Kiss tried making a hair metal record which resulted in nearly an hour of the most horrifying rock songs imaginable. There’s 15 fucking tracks on this record when in reality, maybe one or two have any redeeming qualities. And of course there’s “Forever” the infamous hit single written by Michael Bolton of all fucking people. That should have been grounds for removal of their rock card but people still ate this terrible record up.

  • Revenge (1)

Bad heavy metal, ballads, funk metal? Holy shit, 1992’s Revenge is amazingly unlistenable and worse than Hot in the Shade thanks to what might be their two worst songs of all time – the funk metal “Spit” which took both Gene and Paul to write this dreck and the acoustic ballad “Every Time I Look at You.” This worked for more talented musicians like Extreme but this is just silly coming from Kiss.

Summary: 30 albums, average 5.72

Songs of the Week: 3/27/2020

I only have two goals for this series: 1) Introducing the masses to great new music and 2) Giving myself an excuse to listen to every single new release on the Tidal streaming service so I can stay up with new music. Doing this on a weekly basis means that I have a one week window to get this up before the Tidal feed flips to the next set of records, so by posting song reviews rather than full album reviews, it allows me to get more out there and then if you choose to dig deeper, you can.

So… songs of the week for the release date of 3/27/2020.

  • Artist: Pearl Jam
  • Song: “Who Ever Said”
  • Album: Gigaton
  • Genre: Rock
  • Notes: Well, I came into this not really liking any of the singles but blasting them in album form, I actually enjoyed all of them (“Superblood Wolfmoon” “Dance of the Clairvoyants” and “Quick Escape”) and combined with the rockin’ opening track, “Who Ever Said,” really got me quite excited that this album was going to be good. Then PJ mixed in the mellower tracks and my expectations slowly dwindled. It’s a decent record and has a half dozen really rockin’ tunes on it and it’s better than Lightning Bolt for sure but in the end, I only enjoyed a little more than half of it.
  • Artist: Dua Lipa
  • Song: “Future Nostalgia”
  • Album: Future Nostalgia
  • Genre: Electro-pop
  • Notes: Electro-pop baby! You know her from “Don’t Start Now,” the first single from this album, or one of eight singles from her debut three years ago, but this time around, she’s created a fun, dancey, electro-pop record, brimming with catchy hooks everywhere.
  • Artist: Clutch
  • Song: “Cyborg Bette”
  • Album: Monsters, Machines and Mythological Beasts
  • Genre: Rock
  • Notes: A complication of Clutch tracks about, well…monsters, machines and/or mythological beasts.
  • Artist: Vanessa Carlton
  • Song: “Die, Dinosaur”
  • Album: Love Is An Art
  • Genre: Pop
  • Notes: Never was a Vanessa Carlton fan but this album is pretty damn unique. I don’t know what she has sounded like since she fell out of the spotlight but this album is not what I expected, knowing only the hits. This is a dark, minimal pop record. Sparse instrumentation mixed with some minimal electronic touches, Love Is An Art ends up being a pretty beautiful record.
  • Artist: In This Moment
  • Song: “Fly Like An Eagle”
  • Album: Mother
  • Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
  • Notes: I almost feel bad putting a cover song here when a band releases an album of originals, but they do have three covers on the record and “Fly Like An Eagle” is also the first song on the disc, so it’s clear they want to spotlight it – and so I am too. Never been a fan of the band (but what dude can argue with Maria Brink?) but the album is very good and this is a fantastic cover song.
  • Artist: Jeezy
  • Song: “Billions”
  • Album: Twenty/20 Pyrex Vision
  • Genre: Hip-Hop
  • Notes: Killer hip-hop track by Jeezy, nearly 20 years into his career.
  • Artist: Melt Yourself Down
  • Song: “Crocodile”
  • Album: 100% Yes
  • Genre: Avant Garde Jazz/Funk
  • Notes: 100% Yes is the third album from this London based avant garde funk/jazz/afrobeat band and there’s a quite a few really funky almost-rock tracks on this record, just like the one I’m sharing here.
  • Artist: San Cisco
  • Song: “Reasons”
  • Album: Flaws
  • Genre: Indie Pop
  • Notes: The first true EP from this Australian trio after three full lengths, brings sparkling pop music with some sweet psychedelic touches. But “Reasons” is a great pure pop song.