The 1980s were a decade of change for Kiss, as they reacted to a new musical landscape by ditching the make-up in 1983. But even without the familiar alien-glam slap that helped to make them superheroes for a generation of rock kids, they still churned out some killer tracks during this underrated period. These are their 10 finest moments from that era.
10) War Machine (1982)
One of the heaviest tracks Kiss have recorded was, surprisingly, co-written by Gene Simmons, Bryan Adams and Adams’s writing partner Jim Vallance. Also surprising is the fact that Simmons came up with the bones of the song while tinkering on a cheap miniature synthesiser. Bombastic, powerful and badass, The Demon’s foreboding vocals on War Machine are full of scowling menace.
9) Tomorrow (1980)
Although Paul Stanley has dismissed 1980’s Unmasked as “a pretty crappy album”, there is one track on that record that he still loves. “Tomorrow is a really great song,” he says. It’s a pop-rock classic – the hit that never was.
8) Forever (1989)
Although the 1989 album Hot In The Shade is now all but forgotten, this masterful, acoustic-based power ballad was a Top 10 hit in the US. Paul wrote it with the king of power ballads – and of bad hair – Michael Bolton.
7 Tears Are Falling (1985)
Even Gene Simmons admits that it was Paul Stanley who carried Kiss for much of the 80s. And one of his best songs from those years was Tears Are Falling, from the 1985 album Asylum. The riff was heavy and dramatic, but in the vocal melody and the big chorus was a finely tuned AOR sensibility. And really, get a load of Paul in the video – sporting the gloves of shame…
6) Heaven’s On Fire (1984)
Starting with Paul Stanley yodelling – “Whoah-o-o-o-o-o-o-ooh!” – this is one of the great Kiss songs of the 80s. Assisted by ‘hit doctor’ buddy Desmond Child, Paul based Heaven’s On Fire around a huge chanted chorus and created a hair metal masterpiece.
5) Nowhere To Run (1982)
It’s their lost classic – a great song pissed away as a makeweight on the stopgap best-of album Killers. Nowhere To Run is powerful and melodic – vintage Paul Stanley. And in its thrumming intro is an echo of The Who’s Pinball Wizard.
4) Crazy Crazy Nights (1987)
The band’s biggest hit of the 80s was basically Rock And Roll All Nite with a persecution complex, Paul Stanley proclaiming: ‘They try to tell us that we don’t belong/But that’s alright, we’re millions strong.’ It’s as daft as it is brilliant.
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3) I Love It Loud (1982)
As its title makes abundantly clear, this is the ultimate no-brainer rock anthem. Set to an earth-shaking drumbeat, I Love It Loud is Gene’s hymn to heavy metal. ‘Rock on, I wanna be President!’ he declares, that famous tongue firmly in cheek.
2) Creatures Of The Night (1982)
In 1982, Kiss delivered the heaviest album of their career in Creatures Of The Night. And it was the first song written for the album that became its title track and mission statement: a bombastic, balls-out heavy metal anthem.
1) Lick It Up (1983)
When Kiss took off the make-up in 1983, they needed a great song to prove they could cut it on music alone. Lick It Up was exactly that. With its irresistible, chugging riff and shout-it-out-loud chorus, this was classic Kiss.