The band's roots go way back to the early seventies when they were formed in the US by Paul Stanley (guitars/vocals), Gene Simmons (bass/vocals and a tongue that he can use to lick his own eyebrows), Peter Criss (drums/vocals) and Ace Frehley (guitars/vocals), following the demise of Wicked Lester. Criss had been in a band called Chelsea and Frehley was the result of auditions that the band had held. Both Simmons and Stanley had been in the aforementioned Wicked Lester. Kiss adopted a glam rock image, much the same as rivals The New York Dolls, with high heeled shoes and full-face painted fantasy figures. They signed to the newly formed Casablanca label and released their first album in 1974. They were successful almost from the start, with merchandizing raking in big money. In 1978, all four members released well received solo albums. Criss left the band in 1980 to pursue a solo career and a session drummer was used on their "Unmasked" album. Eric Carr joined in time for a world tour and he recorded "The Elder" with them in 1981. Rumours that the band were disbanding were doing the rounds, but these proved to be unfounded. The greasepaint was removed in 1983, and this bold move worked very well! Guitarist Vinnie Vincent appeared on 1982's "Creatures of the Night" album and Bruce Kulick joined in 1984. Eric Carr died on 24th November 1991, and his replacement was the excellent Eric Singer, ex-Sabbath and Badlands, and it was Singer who appeared on our featured album. Kiss are still very much alive and kicking today, and, like Manowar are to metal, Kiss are an important link in rock/glam rock history.
  
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Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato
Rooted in the campy theatrics of Alice Cooper and the sleazy hard rock of glam rockers the New York Dolls, Kiss became a favorite of American teenagers in the '70s. Most kids were infatuated with the look of Kiss, not their music. Decked out in outrageously flamboyant costumes and makeup, the band fashioned a captivating stage show featuring dry ice, smoke bombs, elaborate lighting, blood spitting, and fire breathing that captured the imaginations of thousands of kids. But Kiss' music shouldn't be dismissed — it was a commercially potent mix of anthemic, fist-pounding hard rock driven by sleek hooks and ballads powered by loud guitars, cloying melodies, and sweeping strings. It was a sound that laid the groundwork for both arena rock and the pop-metal that dominated rock in the late '80s. Kiss was the brainchild of Gene Simmons (bass, vocals) and Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar, vocals), former members of the New York-based hard rock band Wicked Lester; the duo brought in drummer Peter Criss through his ad in Rolling Stone and guitarist Ace Frehley responded to an advertisement in The Village Voice. Even at their first Manhattan concert in 1973, the group's approach was quite theatrical; Flipside producer Bill Aucoin offered the band a management deal after the show. Two weeks later, the band was signed to Neil Bogart's fledgling record label, Casablanca. Kiss released their self-titled debut in February of 1974; it peaked at number 87 on the U.S. charts. By April of 1975, the group had released three albums and had toured America constantly, building up a sizable fan base. Culled from those numerous concerts, Alive! (released in the fall of 1975) made the band rock & roll superstars; it climbed into the Top Ten and its accompanying single, "Rock 'N' Roll All Nite," made it to number 12. Their follow-up, Destroyer, was released in March of 1976 and became the group's first platinum album; it also featured their first Top Ten single, Peter Criss' power ballad "Beth." A 1977 Gallup poll named Kiss the most popular band in America. Kiss mania was in full swing and thousands of pieces of merchandise hit the marketplace. The group had two comic books released by Marvel, pinball machines, makeup and masks, board games, and a live-action TV movie, Kiss Meet the Phantom of the Park. The group was never seen in public without wearing their makeup and their popularity was growing by leaps and bounds; the membership of the Kiss Army, the band's fan club, was now in the six figures. Even such enormous popularity had its limits, and the band reached them in 1978, when all four members released solo albums on the same day in October. Simmons' record was the most successful, reaching number 22 on the charts, yet all of them made it into the Top 50. Dynasty, released in 1979, continued their streak of platinum albums, yet it was their last recorded with the original lineup — Criss left in 1980. Kiss Unmasked, released in the summer of 1980, was recorded with session drummer Anton Fig; Criss' permanent replacement, Eric Carr, joined the band in time for their 1980 world tour. Kiss Unmasked was their first record since Destroyer to fail to go platinum, and 1981's Music From the Elder, their first album recorded with Carr, didn't even go gold — it couldn't even climb past number 75 on the charts. Ace Frehley left the band after its release; he was replaced by Vinnie Vincent in 1982. Vincent's first album with the group, 1982's Creatures of the Night, fared better than Music From the Elder, yet it couldn't make it past number 45 on the charts. Sensing it was time for a change, Kiss dispensed with their makeup for 1983's Lick It Up. The publicity worked, as the album became their first platinum record in four years. Animalize, released the following year, was just as successful, and the group had recaptured their niche. Vincent left after Animalize and was replaced by Mark St. John; St. John was soon taken ill with Reiter's Syndrome and left the band. Bruce Kulick became Kiss' new lead guitarist in 1984. For the rest of the decade, Kiss turned out a series of best-selling albums, culminating in the early 1990 hit ballad "Forever," which was their biggest single since "Beth." Kiss was scheduled to record a new album with their old producer, Bob Ezrin, in 1990 when Eric Carr became severely ill with cancer; he died in November of 1991 at the age of 41. Kiss replaced him with Eric Singer and recorded Revenge (1992), their first album since 1989; it was a Top Ten hit and went gold. Kiss followed it with the release of Alive III the following year; it performed respectably, but not up to the standards of their two previous live records. In 1996, the original lineup of Kiss — featuring Simmons, Stanley, Frehley, and Criss — reunited to perform an international tour, complete with their notorious makeup and special effects. The tour was one of the most successful of 1996, and in 1998 the reunited group issued Psycho Circus. While the ensuing tour in support of Psycho Circus was a success, sales of Kiss' reunion album weren't as stellar as anticipated. Reminiscent of the band's late-'70s unfocused period, few tracks on Psycho Circus featured all four members playing together (most tracks were supplemented with session musicians), as the band seemed more interested in flooding the marketplace with merchandise yet again instead of making the music their top priority. With rumors running rampant that the Psycho Circus Tour would be their last, the quartet announced in the spring of 2000 that they would be launching a U.S. farewell tour in the summer, which became one of the year's top concert draws. But on the eve of a Japanese and Australian tour in early 2001, Peter Criss suddenly left the band once again, supposedly discontent with his salary. Taking his place was previous Kiss drummer Eric Singer, who in a controversial move among some longtime fans, donned Criss' cat-man makeup (since Simmons and Stanley own both Frehley and Criss' makeup designs, there was no threat of a lawsuit) as the farewell tour continued. With the band scheduled to call it a day supposedly by late 2001, a mammoth career-encompassing box set was set for later in the year, while the summer saw perhaps the most over-the-top piece of Kiss merchandise yet — the "Kiss Kasket." The group was relatively quiet through the rest of the year, but 2002 started with a bang as Gene Simmons turned in an entertaining and controversial interview on NPR where he criticized the organization and berated host Terry Gross with sexual comments and condescending answers. He was promoting his autobiography at the time, which also caused dissent in the Kiss camp because of the inflammatory remarks made towards Ace Frehley. Frehley was quite angry at the situation, leading to his no-showing of an American Bandstand anniversary show. His place was taken by a wig-wearing Tommy Thayer, but no one was fooled and the band looked especially awful while pretending to play their instruments during the pre-recorded track. The appearance was an embarrassment for the group and for their fans, but Simmons was quick to dismiss the performance as another in a long series of money-oriented decisions. 

 

Peter Criss
Ace Frehley
Gene Simmons
Paul Stanley
Vinnie Vincent
Eric Carr
Bruce Kulick
Eric Singer
Mark St. John

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Kiss - 1974 - Hotter Than hell - 4/5

Kiss - 1974 - Kiss - 4.5/5

Kiss - 1975 - Alive - 4.5/5

Kiss - 1975 - Dressed to Kill - 4.5/5

Kiss - 1976 - Destroyer - 4.5/5

Kiss - 1976 - Rock and Roll Over - 4/5

Kiss - 1977 - Alive II - 4/5

Kiss - 1977 - Love Gun - 4.5/5

Kiss - 1978 - Ace frehely - 4/5

Kiss - 1978 - Gene Simmons - 3/5

Kiss - 1978 - Paul Stanley - 3/5

Kiss - 1978 - Peter Criss - 2/5

Kiss - 1979 - Dynasty - 3/5

Kiss - 1980 - Unmasked - 2/5

Kiss - 1981 - Music from The elder - 2/5

Kiss - 1982 - Creatures of the Night - 4/5

Kiss - 1982 - Killers - 3/5

Kiss - 1983 - Lick It Up - 3.5/5

Kiss - 1984 - Animalize - 2/5

Kiss - 1985 - Asylum - 1.5/5

Kiss - 1987 - Crazy Nights - 1.5/5

Kiss - 1989 - Hot in the Shade - 2/5

Kiss - 1992 - Revenge - 3/5

Kiss - 1993 - Alive III - 2/5

Kiss - 1996 - MTV Unplugged - 3/5

Kiss - 1997 - Carnival of Souls, The Final Sessions - 2/5

Kiss - 1998 - Psycho Circus - 2/5

Kiss - 2003 - Kiss Symphony, Alive IV - 2.5/5

Kiss - 2003 - Kiss Symphony, The Single Disc - 2.5/5

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