Archive and Search
« 'Judas' - The Video | Main | Less Than Two Weeks Until M3 »

KISS Edition: What Were They Thinking? 

I was listening to Hair Nation the other day (The Howard Stern Show was probably on a commercial break), and they played, "Hate" by KISS, off of the Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions album, and the song really got me thinking. Obviously, this was an attempt by KISS to latch on to the grunge era and to try to stay relevant and sell some albums. The problem was that the effort was so disingenuous, and it just didn't sound like KISS.  Now I understand a band changing and growing, but I do not think that occurred here. Lyrics like, "Tell me what you want me to be, I can't stand myself anymore" just did not make sense. Were we to believe that Paul Stanley (the Star Child from the 1970s that was able to shoot lasers out of his eye and defeat the androids that had taken over Magic Mountain in Southern California) was suddenly a member of the disenfranchised youth? Did KISS believe that this segment of the music buying population would be able to relate to their music? To me, it appeared to be more of a desperate ploy to 'hang with the cool kids,' and it made me feel bad for the band. 

The whole song got me thinking about KISS' career once the make-up came off. Creatures of the Night and Lick it Up were both great rock albums. Animalize was a decent album as well, and no one can deny the brilliance that is "Heavens on Fire" (though the rest of the album is hit or miss, including the classic lyric about the log and the fireplace). From there you go to Asylum (which had a number of catchy singles) and then Crazy Nights (which, admittedly, the band was trying for a Bon Jovi-type sound, heavy on the keyboards). 
KISS were innovators when they debuted on the scene in the early/mid 1970s, and they put on a show that was second to none. But without the make-up, they really lost their identity, and were like a rudderless ship, simply chasing fads in music and trying to keep up with the other, more successful artists. That isn't to say they didn't put out some great music, but they really lost their status as leaders, and were clearly followers during this time period. Carnival of Souls, to me, is the culmination of this lack of direction, as they recorded an album is just reaching for something that was not there. But of course, as with any KISS album, there are always bright spots, and to this day, I say the song "Childhood's End" is an amazing song from the KISS catalog that unfortunately was buried on this album that is bypassed by most.
Am I wrong, or is this the worst KISS album ever recorded?

Reader Comments (26)

Two words - The Elder. But yes, Gene stopped caring about music and cared only about money., Shame, Revenge is the best KISS of all time, if they had stuck to that, he'd still be rich, but he'd also be cool.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristian
Hell no!!! I think the album was actually awesome. You want to talk crappy, lets talk PSYCO CIRCUS!
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKEVON
Psycho Circus is pretty close to the worse I'll agree. I actually don't mind the elder if looked at right. Now Peter Criss's solo album released under Kiss's name in 78, that would be my vote if Psycho Circus didn't exist
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
What about Unmasked? That's got to be up near the top.
I've loved Kiss since I was 11. I used to chase boys in the school yard who'd run up and say "Kiss sucks!" I defended them like it was my honour and duty to do so.
Looking back now, though, I must say I loved the 70's stuff the best. Yes, I agree they were not leaders during the whole 80's/90's period but times changed. Doing the 70's thing then wasn't cool.
I've lost some of the love. I think it's boredom. Plus I have a real issue with Ace and Peter being replaced by imposters. Not saying they didn't have their issues but to me, it's just not KISS without them.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRita
For me, Kiss' success is based on 90% image and 10% music. They do have some great tunes, and they deserve credit for transforming the face of arena rock, but without the make-up and stage-show, I really doubt that they would have made it. Most of their music is just average.

Also, saying that they don't have as much integrity now because they are focusing on the money is revisionist history. Kiss has always focused on the money. They merchandised the crap out of themselves in the 70's, and unabashedly followed music trends so they could cash in (disco is huge: I Was Made for Loving You; everyone doing hair ballads: Forever, etc.). Any band who merch's out pillow cases, dolls and checker games is not too concerned about musical integrity.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
I've never heard "Hate" before. The title itself sums up how I feel about it. That's some of the worst crap I've wasted time on.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHayseed
I'm 43 and a life-long KISS fan. They were not followers at the beginning of the 80's, it was areoung '86 or '87 in my opinion. However, my pick for the worst KISS album is Hot In The Shade. Total drivel from beginning to end. The Elder is a great album...Psycho Circus is decent...Unmasked is a good one too. HITS was just terrible...go ahead and name one good song...betcha can't. This comes from someone that will defend KISS until the day I all-time, absolute favorite music group of all time. Just my opinion.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJAT
I love this album and I think it has some great songs on the disc, my vote for the worst KISS album is 'Hot in the Shade'
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterManny
Little Ceaser is a great song from HITS!!!
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
Loved KISS when I was a kid. All grown up now. Don't watch the Muppets or listen to KISS anymore. No Ace, no Peter. Tribute band at best now!!!!
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave
A couple of decent tracks on this, but definitely not a great album.

The Elder, another one generally maligned, actually happens to be my favorite KISS album.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJack
i also love the elder.and unmasked. when they lost the makeup, it was the beginning of the end. these days, they really need to hang it up. they're really turning into a joke.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjeff
long time fan..1st concert ever was Kiss at MSG in 79'...awesome...but as it's hard for me to come up with their best record..(I tend to go with Dressed to Kill IMO..)..but their worst...hmmm...Psycho Circus was pretty lousy...push comes to shove..I may go "hot in the shade" many others seem to agree...
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGene
Also a lifelong Kiss fan. 1st concert was Kiss at The Philadelphia Civic Center in 1976 when I was 13.Bryon pretty much summed it up quite nicely.As the band progressed through the years, it seems the priority list evolved into:Money 1st, image 2nd, and music 3rd.
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGary
I dont think so. I loved Master and Slave. Jungle is a very cool song with heavy bass and Paul has good range. Secduction of the Innocent is a very dark song and I Walk Alone is a very interesting song. Cool sounding.
This CD is definately different, but not the worst. I think the Elder
I got into Kiss @ Lick it Up. Actually, it was Anamalize and loved each and every Album since...
I was not happy when the Make up went on and they did not play anything from the non-makeup years. I actually, like more non make up songs than make up ones. I know their fame came from the seventies, but I loved the eighties and 90s albums
May 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian L
"Destroyer" is THE Best.

"Carnival of Souls, The Final Sessions" has to be the worst just based on this one song, "Hate", which, of course, I HATE! But it's still better than half of anything The Big Four ever did, hahaha!!!
May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I actually thought Hot in the Shade was pretty good. I think Destroyer is probably their best. I do think they did a lot of good stuff, some of it just wasnt' great. And I agree, I think it's been all about the money for atleast 20 years now. But I also bet that's true for a lot of bands. Stops being about art and becomes a business, which is really too bad.
May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRita
Unmasked is great for Torpedo Girl. Carnival is better then psycho. I like HITS and it was a great tour. Worst is definitely Peter's solo lp. I am a card carrying member of the Army. Best IMO is Revenge and Destroyer
May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSmknotsmf
I would like to amend my Smknotsmf indicated...Peter Criss's solo album in 78 was god awful...
May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGene
Wow, I'm on the other side of the coin on this. I LOVE Carnival of Souls and I thought it was cool that they tried a harder, grungier sound. The issue is that they released the album too late. If you had a bootleg at the time it actually leaked and it had more impact since it wasn't released until 2 years later at least. One thing about KISS is that they always adapted their sound as the years went on as did Bon Jovi and all other bands who have stuck around.Which explains their longevity.
May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sexy Armpit

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.