Since this blog is about my all time favorite band, and in my opinion, one of the all time greatest bands, I will start out with my first experience seeing them live. So here goes:
It was July 28, 1996, and while the world was watching the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, that evening I was sitting in Madison Square Garden, the “World’s Most Famous Arena.” In my opinion, it is the best arena ever. Of course, I would say that as even though I lived in New Jersey at the time, in my opinion, New York City was the best city in the world. Even now that I live in Lexington,KY, New York City is STILL the best city in the world, and Madison Square Garden is STILL the greatest arena.
Anyway, it was about a few minutes to 9:00pm, and the Who’s classic, “We Won’t Be Fooled Again” was playing, and when it came to the part where singer Roger Daltrey sings “YEEEEEEEEAAAAAH” the lights went out, and the black curtain with the famous logo of the band I had worshiped since 1977 at the age of 9 came down. I was just about dying inside. I could not believe I was going to see these guys after being a fan for 19 years. After the Who song finished, about a minute later, the announcer shouted, “All Right New York City!!.” “You wanted the best. You got the best. The hottest band in the world…….KISS!!”
After that, the band was revealed, after the curtained was pulled back, and I saw my heroes, and heard them playing “Deuce,” from their self titled album, “KISS.” Seeing Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and my favorite, Ace Frehley live for the first time was magical. It was one of the most happiest days of my life. Needless to say, they were fantastic.
As most music fans know, KISS are not exactly the darlings of the critics, especially Rolling Stone Magazine. In fact, Jan Wenner, the Editor in Chief of Rolling Stone is the major roadblock for KISS NOT being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How they justify many of the band’s contemporaries like Aerosmith, and QUEEN being in, and keeping KISS out, I don’t know. Even a “rock band” like ABBA is in a ROCK AND ROLL Hall of Fame, but no KISS.
The general knock on the band is that their concerts are better than the music. I disagree. I think if you put on a lot of their older stuff, it stands up well. The critics like things with a message, and all that kind of nonsense. I think the band’s music is good old rock and roll. I have listed the songs that I feel are 50 of KISS’ best in their entire catalog. I listed the song, and in the parentheses, I put what album/CD the song is from, and the year. If there is a good you tube link for said song, it will be underneath. Unless marked, the songs will be studio versions. Of course, I will write a quick comment about why it is ranked where it is. The criteria I used was how much I thought it held up since it’s release, and pretty much how good a song it was.
I hope KISS fans, and even non KISS fans enjoy this blog. Well, here we go. Time to rock and roll:
50. A World Without Heroes ((“Music from)) “The Elder” 1980)
Nice, easy listening ballad sung by Gene Simmons. One of the few highlights from the band’s poor attempt at a concept album called (Music From) “The Elder.”
49. “God Gave Rock and Roll to You II ” (“Revenge” 1992)
This is a very good cover of Argent’s “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.” It also featured the late Eric Carr on vocals. This version of the song was on the Soundtrack to “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.”
48. “I” ((Music from) “The Elder” 1980)
An upbeat song from “The Elder.” I personally think this is the best song on the album. I love the message it sends. This song, and the previously mentioned “Heroes” song are the only two tunes that are listenable. The rest of it, you can throw out the window. Putrid album.
47. “Forever” (“Hot In The Shade” 1990)
Beautifully, and powerfully sung ballad by Paul Stanley, and co-written by Stanley and Michael Bolton. One of the few highlights of the dismal Hot In The Shade album.
46. ” A Million to One” (“Lick It Up” 1983)
Wow. Paul Stanley sure knows how to write good breakup songs, or songs about love going bad. I discovered this song while watching Stanley’s “One Live KISS” DVD. Good song about how the gal who left him won’t ever have “a love like mine.”
45. “Tears Are Falling” (“Asylum” 1985)
One of my favorite non-makeup era songs. Paul sings his butt off on this song. This song is in my opinion, the best song on “Asylum.” I really do not like that album much. Bruce Kulick plays a killer guitar solo on this song.
44. “I Still Love You” (“Creatures of the Night” 1982)
Here is Paul again singing another “love gone bad” tune. However, this is an awesome song. I love the obvious Led Zeppelin influence on this song, which was written by Vinnie Vincent, but oddly, Vincent does not play on it. Of course, “Creatures of the Night” is a strange bird. I don’t think we will EVER know who played guitar on that album. When done live, Paul can use his vocal gymnastics to the fullest.
43. “Heaven’s On Fire” (“Animalize” 1984)
There are a couple of good songs on “Animalize,” an album that I think is one of the two, or three non-makeup songs in the KISS Discography that I think are good. This song is a fun song. Guitarist Mark St. John (RIP) only appears on this one album as he had to leave the band due to an arthritic condition.
42. “Lick It Up” (“Lick It Up” 1983)
Awesome tune from the very first non-makeup album, “Lick It Up.” The band decided to remove their makeup at this point. Like Gene Simmons said, concerning removing the makeup, on their VHS/DVD ” KISS: Extreme Close Up:” “We made the point.”
41. “Creatures of the Night (“Creatures of the Night” 1982)
After their attempt at the concept album, the band went back to their hard rock roots, and put out the album, “Creatures of the Night.” Sadly, their original guitarist, Ace Frehley despite being shown on the cover when the album was released, actually left. The CD has a different cover now, I believe. The title track, “Creatures” is a great, balls to the wall rocking tune. I definitely recommend giving it a listen.
40. “UnHoly “(“Revenge” 1992)
After the band’s going through some phases of following other bands, and Gene Simmons trying to be an actor, and all, and the sad death of Eric Carr, KISS with new drummer, Eric Singer (Lita Ford, Alice Cooper, etc) got together, and put out “Revenge,” which is my favorite of the non-makeup efforts. The song,”UnHoly” is fantastic. I definitely recommend a listen.
39. “Let Me Know” (“KISS” 1974)
Fun tune from the band’s first album. Sung by both Simmons, and Stanley.
38.”Hard Luck Woman” (“Rock And Roll Over” 1976)
Good ballad sung by Peter Criss, and written by Paul Stanley. Paul said in past interviews that he was thinking of giving it to Rod Stewart, but kept it. I think Rod would have had a hit with it, but I am glad Paul kept it.
37.”Plaster Caster” (“Love Gun” 1977)
This is a great obscure song by the band. Sung, and written by Gene, the song is an homage to this lady out in Los Angeles who made plaster casts of rock stars’ privates. I just love this song. I wish KISS would play it in concert, but I know now they cater to families, so no luck, but the song kicks butt regardless.
36.”I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (“Dynasty” 1979)
To many rock stars, and fans’ dismay, the genre of disco started sweeping over the USA circa 1978 or so. Bands, jumping onto the craze did some disco tunes to keep up, such as the Rolling Stones with “Miss You.” Paul Stanley said in “Extreme Closeup” that “This stuff (Disco) is easy to write.” Paul wrote this song, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” in a few minutes. Some fans hate it. I like this song. It is a fun song, even though I think , at least back then, the song, as well as most of the “Dynasty” album got KISS away from what they were, a hard rock band that was dangerous.
http://youtu.be/WPSg4FmiwRk (Year listed on video is wrong.)
35. “Great Expectations” (“Destroyer” 1976)
Another great obscure song sung by, and written by Simmons. The song is about a female fan’s concert experience, and how she wants the band, etc. I think it is a real neat song, topped off with the Harlem Boy’s Choir singing at the end, and the song based on a Beethoven sonata.
34 “Ladies Room” (“Rock and Roll Over” 1976)
Awesome song, from my favorite KISS album. It is a typical Gene loves the girls song, but I love how the song rocks, but there is a sense that you can dance to it. That I think comes from Peter’s jazz, and blues influence. The song has a swing style which makes it a neat song to listen to. It is awesome live, as it is played a lot faster than on the recording.
33.”Christine Sixteen (“Love Gun” 1977)
Another fun song by Gene Simmons from one of my favorite albums, “Love Gun.” Yep, the subject is girls. That’s Gene, at least back in those days. I love this song. It’s about a guy who is in love with a 16 year old chick named Christine. Great little rocker.
(From Houston on 9/1/77) http://youtu.be/FW4RMaVERYY
32. “Goin’ Blind” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
This song from the band’s second album, “Hotter Than Hell” is just gorgeous. The guitars, and the drumming are excellent. Gene, who wrote the song, sings this beautifully. The subject matter is a bit risque, but the song is great. The song is about a 93 year old man who is in love with a 16 year old girl. However, I highly recommend people give this song a listen.
31. ” 2000 Man” (“Dynasty” 1979)
I know this song is a cover of the Rolling Stones’ song, “2000 Man,” but I had to put this in. I honestly think KISS did a better job. Richards, and Jagger wrote this tune, but Ace’s playing, and singing just knocks the song out of the park. Highly recommend.
30.” Got to Choose” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
Nice song sung by Stanley. Again, another song about love gone wrong when he tells the woman she “got to choose, who’s her baby.”
” Do You Love Me” ( “Destroyer” 1976)
Love this song, even though it is a bit repetitive. It is a song about the relationship between a rock star and a female, and the musician wonders if the gal really loves him for him.
28. “Comin’ Home” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
Fun rocker that is about traveling the rock star lifestyle, and the relief of “comin home” to his girl from “Hotter Than Hell.”
27.”She” (“Dressed To Kill” 1975)
Great hard rocker. I really love this song, especially live.
26. “Shout It Out Loud” (“Destroyer 1976)
Great party, and rock anthem from “Destroyer.” Love this song.
Live Version from the kick off show from the Reunion Tour in 1996 at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium on June 28, 1996: http://youtu.be/sohB922c2uQ
25. “C’Mon and Love Me (“Dressed to Kill” 1975)
One of the best songs from “Dressed to Kill.” Great live song in particular.
24. “Strange Ways” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
This song features Peter on vocals, and a great Ace Frehley guitar solo. Great obscure song.
23. “100,000 Years” (“KISS” 1974)
The song is a great rocker with an interest guitar solo, and an excellent live song.
22. “Watching You” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
I absolutely adore this song. It was great back when it came out, and it is still a great song now.
Live from Winterland 1975: http://youtu.be/rC4qmoqNULI
21. “Nothin’ to Lose” (“KISS” 1974)
Great classic from the band’s first album. Peter sings on this song. The song is a bit naughty, but fun to get into.
20.”Makin’ Love” (“Rock and Roll Over” 1976)
Great rocker about what else? Yep. Making Love. Paul is great in this sexy rocker,and Ace plays a sizzling, Jimmy Page influenced solo that still blows my mind. Love it.
19. “Calling Dr. Love” (“Rock and Roll Over” 1976)
Here is Gene playing Love Doctor in “Dr. Love.” This song is very clever, and even though I think it is a better live song, than on record, nevertheless I enjoy getting down to it.
18. “Hotter Than Hell” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
Great classic. It took me awhile to really like this song, but it grew on me. Definitely check it out.
Live from Winterland in San Francisco in 1975: http://youtu.be/QhrrtZxALsE
17. “I Want You” (“Rock and Roll Over” 1976)
This song kicks off “Rock and Roll Over.” Killer tune. It also features Paul, and Ace sharing the solo. What I mean is that when it is time for the guitar solo, there is a semi-slow part, and then the solo speeds up a bit. Paul plays the semi-slow part, and Ace plays the sped up part. Great live tune.
16. “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
Total classic. Great on the record, and great in concert. Heartily recommend.
15. “Strutter” (“KISS” 1974)
Classic is about a streetwalker, but it is a cool song nonetheless.
14. “Parasite” (“Hotter Than Hell” 1974)
Awesome song written by Ace Frehley. It was too bad Ace at the time of the song’s writing, and recording, didn’t have the confidence to sing it, as Gene sings it. Ace sings it now with his solo band, at least he did awhile back.
13. “I Stole Your Love” (“Love Gun” 1977)
I love this song. Paul sings this great on the record, and live. Paul, and Ace both play the solo like they did in “I Want You.”
Live: Houston, TX. Love Gun Tour, 9/2/77 (2nd Night) http://youtu.be/0NK7X2DjxXs
12. “Take Me” (“Rock and Roll Over” 1976)
I love this hard rocker. One of my all time favorite KISS songs. This song, and the next song JUST missed being in my top ten. Nonetheless, the song is a naughty, but at the same time, fun rock tune to just turn your stereo up to ten, and just listen. I play this song at least twice on my stereo.
Live: April 2, 1977 at the Budakon in Japan http://youtu.be/ICa3jop6HS0
11. “Firehouse” (“KISS” 1974)
This is another that JUST missed the top ten. It is a classic, and one of the band’s best songs. I love it, “Get the Firehouse…set my soul afire…” Of course, it is one of the band’s best live tunes, as Paul Stanley will, for a short time wear a fireman’s hat, and Gene will do his fire breathing routine. Great song.
10. “Love Gun” (“Love Gun” 1977)
Well, here is the first of the Top Ten, or the cream of the crop. “Love Gun” is a KISS Classic. Paul even said it was one of the best songs he ever wrote, and it is hard to argue. In fact, I believe this song is a set list standard. It has been in just about every KISS set list since its existence. I have seen the band a total of 46 times in a few different lineups including that July night. I have seen them in concert with mostly the original, and in my opinion, the best lineup, but I have also seen them in the Peter/Tommy Thayer (1 show) line up, and the Frehley/Singer lineup (6 Shows in Australia, 2001), and the Singer/Thayer lineup on July 11, 2004, and Love Gun has always been on that set list.
9. “Black Diamond” (“KISS” 1974)
This is another incredible classic, and I just love it. In the band’s early days, they would end their shows with this song. I watch stuff on you tube, and I always thought that was cool, including the choreographed moves near the end. Peter sings his heart out on this classic.
8. “Beth” (“KISS” 1974)
This is the ballad, that I think put rock ballads on the map. Great song about a guy who is in a band, and laments that “he’ll be right home to you,” as he is recording songs with his band, and his girlfriend wonders when he will be home. I am sure that athletes, musicians, and pro wrestlers, and their significant others can relate to this song. The back story on this song is that Peter, and a friend of his came up with the song, and it was originally titled “Beck” for Becky.
According to the “Extreme Close Up” VHS/DVD, Gene advised him to change the name to “Beth” so it did not look like he “was playing for the other team.” Paul then elaborates in the VHS/DVD that when they gave record stations “Detroit Rock City for a single, “Beth” was put on the other side as a throwaway. DJs turned the single on the other side, and started playing “Beth.” The song won a “People’s Choice Award.”
7. “Rock and Roll All Night” (“Dressed to Kill” 1975)
Here is the song that most rock DJs today will play when they do play KISS. I admit that this song will always be a part of my soul, and the song is KISS’ “signature” song. It is a good song on the recording of “Dressed to Kill,” but the song is way superior as a live song. What is awesome about it is the jazz /swing feel to it, but yet it still rocks. I have it in the top ten based on its reputation, and based on it being the closing number to KISS’ modern shows, but the constant repetition has me a little soured on it.
6. “King of The Night Time World” (“Destroyer” 1976)
This song is a killer tune. I just love hearing the guitars from the beginning, and then they go right into the song. Paul sings about ruling the night, and such. I just love it. I love the twin guitars parts.I just get into this song. It is one of the best songs in the band’s catalog. It’s a straight ahead rocker. I could listen to the song over, and over, and never get bored. Excellent live song as well.
5. “Cold Gin” (“KISS” 1974)
Another classic written by Ace Frehley from the band’s debut album, but alas due to his lack of confidence in his singing ability, Gene sings it. This ode to alcohol is outstanding. Great guitar licks, and great solo. When I was seeing the band in concert, I always looked forward to this song. I even liked seeing KISS Tribute bands playing this song. It is such a great song.
4. “God Of Thunder” (“Destroyer” 1976)
This song is a gem. It is sung by Gene Simmons, but Paul Stanley primarily wrote it. This song is one of the best songs from “Destroyer,” if not one of KISS’ best songs EVER. I mean, this song fit Gene to a T. Gene’s KISS character is the Bat Demon, and this song’s sinister tone, and lyrics just suit him perfectly. Even thought Paul gets writing credit, this is my all time favorite “Gene” song.
3. “Shock Me” (“Love Gun” 1977)
I love this song. It represents a significant moment in “KISStory.” It is Ace Frehley’s vocal debut on a song he wrote called “Shock Me.” I loved it when I heard it, even though his voice was obviously not as strong as Gene’s, Paul’s, or even Peter’s. However, it was awesome that he finally stepped up. The song itself is fantastic, including the solo. Live, this song is great, especially when Ace featured his burning guitar act.
2. “Deuce” (“KISS” 1974)
“Get off…..and get your grandma out of here…….” That is the first line from the classic song, “Deuce” from the first KISS album, “KISS.” That is a kick-ass song if I ever heard one. I am going to be honest, I have never figured out what on earth Gene Simmons is singing about, but it doesn’t matter. The song is just awesome, and people need to go out of their way to hear it if they want to hear a good, old fashioned, hard rock song.
1. “Detroit Rock City” (“Destroyer” 1976)
Well, we are here at last, to talk about the song that I think is the best KISS song ever. I can’t lie, “Destroyer” was the first album I ever heard by KISS. This kid brought it in, and even though at first, I was like, “Yuck…….who is that?” Well, when I heard the music, I was hooked, and a couple of weeks later, I bought the album with a friend. It took my mother (RIP) awhile to come around, but she let me keep it.
Thank God for that as the song, “Detroit Rock City” was the first KISS song I ever heard by KISS. Of course,that was obvious because it starts the album. Regardless, the song is their best song. The song tells a story about a young man who is going to a show around midnight, and gets killed in a head-on collision with a mack truck.
Anyway, the song shows maturity in Paul’s writing, and the song still rocks nonetheless. I can listen to it multiple times, and not get bored. I can hear the song, and remember how I became a devoted KISS fan of 35 plus years. Great song on record, and live. The song is also a homage to the city of Detroit, as it was the first city to embrace KISS. What else I find neat about the song is you hear someone reading a news report about the accident, and a car crash at the end which adds realism to the song.
Well, that is my list of the top 50 KISS songs according to yours truly. I hope you enjoyed reading the list. I hope you all will listen to some of these songs, and give them a shot, and of course debate.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan
[amazon_link id=”B001BWCEL4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]KISS: The Complete Collection[/amazon_link]