Did I mention James is a HUGE KISS fan? So here he goes.
My ranking of the KISS & related albums.
1. The original KISS & Wicked Lester LP / demos
Not clear on if this album was actually officially released. Or just a demo. There were 2 different recording sessions. The first one shows the band pretty much doing a hard rock / prog rock. Even folk, Beatles influenced stuff. The second set of recordings shows the guys rocking much harder and a lot of the songs off the first KISS album We all love. Some of this stuff eventually officially appeared on the KISS box set from the 90s. I was given a bootleg CDR of it in the mid 90s by a friend. I remember it was really high on the list of so many tape/CDR traders back then. Gene & Paul really didn't want this stuff heard for many years. They don't have a lot to be ashamed of. Its not horrible at all. Mostly cool for novelty value. A treat for KISS super-fans.
I'll give it 3 stars or Maybe 2&1/2.
2. Ace Frehley -pre KISS band Molemo
Just as bad as Peter Criss's first band. Ace Shines through slightly on a solo or two. Mostly slow boring early 70s hippie rock crapola. I guess Ace himself forgot this even existed. Or was trying to anyway. Was never pressed into a real record or officially released. I heard this tape sold for thousands.
3. Peter Criss pre KISS band Chelsea LP
Awful for the most part. Early 70s slow soft prog, folk hippie rock crap. A few moments of hard rock. But mostly boring boring crap. Only a true KISS completest Peter Criss super-fan would search this out. Of course this album is very rare and worth loads of money these days. But through the gift of YouTube We can listen here. File it away never to be heard again ha ha ha.
4. KISS - Self Titled first album!
What can I say? Perfect album. The hard rocking classic all KISS fans love. Classic song after classic song. At least half of em. Still regularly make it into KISS's live sets these days. Strutter, Deuce, Firehouse, Cold Gin, Black Diamond, Nothing To Lose and plenty of others. KISS topped them all when this came out. The blueprint for heavy metal/glam rock/hard rock/shock rock. They took what Alice Cooper, Slade, NY Dolls & Zepplin were already doing. Turned up the amps. Turned up the fire ! and Americanized it all into short catchy loud raw ruthless rock n roll. Interesting album cover. Peter's make up had yet to be perfected. I first had this album as a kid in the 70s. Still love it. Still gets regular plays at My house. My favorite of the first 3 KISS records.
5 Stars !
5. KISS- Hotter Then Hell
The second Klassic from KISS. Wild album cover front & back. Look up the crazy stories on that photo shoot. I heard it said this album influenced a lot of 90s grunge rockers. Kinda ironic. Considering years later grunge rock itself influenced KISS on their Carnival Of Souls album in the mid 90s. But yeah I can sort of see it. Again like the first album. Full of great songs like Got To Choose, Hotter Then Hell, Going Blind & others. Overall slower but heavier then the first album. Often the favorite KISS album by diehard metalheads. Like all the early KISS records. I consider it a classic.
I'll give it 5 stars.
6. KISS - Dressed To Kill
Again another really cool album cover. KISS's third album has em getting back to a more traditional hard rocking style. Loud fast raw & catchy. Room Service opens. I never understood Why this & Ladies In Waiting never got much play live. KISS was really playing live a lot. Touring constantly at this point. Playing anywhere USA all the time. Its a wonder they found the time to write and record this. Just another amazing thing about KISS. This album got a ton of play (loud as fuck) In My first car. On 8 track!
5 Stars !
7. KISS - Alive 1
And here We are. 1975. The year and album that made KISS one of the biggest rock bands in history. A deluxe double lp. Pictures etc. If You could not get to a KISS concert. You could crank this up and start to finish. Visualize quite clearly what it was like. You don't just play this album. You live it! Hear the great early KISS songs played faster louder rougher mixed with the fire & bombs. You could almost smell the smoke & sweat rolling off the stage. As well as other stuff going on in the audiance. This was not the first double live album by a major band. But its the one that caused record labels to put out a ton more of them over the next ten years. To many KISS fans. This it the album. The peak of KISS. I would not say that. But its certainly a high point. A moment in KISSstory that continues to blow minds. KISS is a live band. Always has been. A great place to start. If You want to understand why they are such a loved band by so many. Even people that don't consider themselves much of a fan of KISS. Usually will admit this is one of the greatest live LPs ever. From where I'm standing. Its only equal is KISS Alive 2. And together they are My absolute favorite albums of all time by anybody.
5 stars ! !!!
8. KISS - Destroyer & Destroyer resurrected
OK not much difference between these two. Pretty much either version of Destroyer is a great 5 star classic album. Minor differences in a couple solos on a couple songs. Remastered. Destroyer was KISS getting harder louder & softer poppier at the same time. Originally it pissed some fans off slightly. They saw it as KISS losing their raw edge. Going commercial. Selling out. Loaded with classic songs. Many are still played live today. Big rocking KISS anthems as well as the pop ballad Beth. A few dark sleazy stuff like Sweet Pain. The first time I heard it. I was annoyed by some of the pop stuff. But over the years I've come to love every second of this album. Another perfect album by KISS !
5 Stars !!!
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is just the first of a few columns JAMES AT 15 will doing on KISS. So remember you wanted the best and you got it from JAMES AT 15.
EDITOR'S NOTE PART TWO: My favorite KISS moment is here watching this on TV way back when, enjoy.