Jerry Bradshaw, an avid music and horror fan, is an English major at the University of Michigan - Flint.
KISS is not only a rock band. KISS is a phenomenon. They have firmly etched themselves into pop culture. There will never be another band like KISS. That being said, I could write about their best material (and there is a wealth of it) from their beginnings to their most recent studio album Monster. I decided to stick with their output during their formative years - with the original lineup: Ace Frehley (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Peter Criss (Drums, Vocals), Gene Simmons (Bass, Vocals), and Paul Stanley (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals). A lot of KISS fans would argue that this is the period of their best work. I am pulling ten songs from that era. However, I am not including the songs we hear on classic rock stations in constant rotation. Songs like Detroit Rock City, Rock and Roll All Nite, and Shout it Out Loud will not be represented. Instead I decided to pull from their album cuts. Some of which may have been forgotten by the casual KISS fan or even the die-hard fans. Let's take a look into our time capsule and see what we can find!
10. 100,000 Years
This is probably my favorite cut on the band's debut album. Paul Stanley delivers a performance filled with his signature attitude and spunk. Gene's fantastic bass intro opens the door. Ace Frehley's guitar work is superb. Peter Criss kicks into high gear on the drums. I think what makes this such a favorite of mine personally is the way Paul delivers ad-libs such as "Will ya, babe?" when asking if he can sit down for awhile and let his female companion "reacquaint yourself with my style". If you haven't heard this one in a while I highly suggest you give it a spin and reacquaint yourself.
9. Love Her All I Can
A song culled from Paul and Gene's days in Wicked Lester, this song has some of Peter's best drumming in my opinion. Peter Criss has always had a bit of a swing in his playing and he certainly showcases that here. The harmonies are tight, Paul's lead is up front and personal. This is one of the hidden gems on the band's third album.
Hotter Than Hell was released to an unsuspecting public in 1974. The band's second album featured concert staples such as Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll and Watchin' You. However, one of the best songs in the band's catalog is also featured. Ace Frehley's Parasite. At the time Ace was insecure about his singing abilities so he passed the torch to bassist Gene Simmons. The result is one hell of a blistering rock and roll song. This song also features one of Ace's best guitar solos on record.
7. Strange Ways
Another cut from their second album, Strange Ways was written by Ace Frehley and the vocal duties were assigned to drummer Peter Criss. The result? Perfection. Pete delivers one of his best vocals since his performance on Black Diamond. This song goes a bit slower but the rhythm section drives it home. Ace was proving himself to be an adept songwriter right alongside Paul and Gene, who wrote the lion's share of original material.
6. I Stole Your Love
The band's 1977 album Love Gun had one of the best openers in all of KISStory. Fans placed the needle on their copy of the album and were greeted with the crunch of thunderous guitars. The song speeds along like a locomotive and showcases Paul Stanley's vocals. The song kicked off the album perfectly. You knew you were in for some serious shit when this track began. I'm sure many mothers were rattled in their homes by the sound of I Stole Your Love kicking off an album they more than likely wish their teens had not purchased. Such is life.
5. Shock Me
Another cut from the 1977 album Love Gun, this is Ace Frehley's first recorded lead vocal with the band. It also gives us some of Ace's best guitar work. A great solo - vocally and instrumentally. This is one of the standout tracks from Love Gun. The version on Alive II would take it to new heights. Ace's solo on that version rivals just about any rock and roll guitarist.
4. Save Your Love
Another vocal by lead guitarist Ace Frehley, Save Your Love is one of the best songs on their 1979 album Dynasty. It's the final song on the record. Paul Stanley lends a bit of attitude with his backing vocals. This is truly a hidden gem. If you never gave it much attention before - now is the time. Ace is in fine form here. A lot has been said about the band going commercial with this album. It contains one of their biggest hit singles I Was Made for Loving You, which is definitely the most commercial thing they had ever done up to that point. With its disco vibe it's understandable why many fans were turned off enough to not purchase the album. Those fans missed out on some great moments. Save Your Love is but one of them.
3. Makin' Love
The band's 1976 album Rock and Roll Over was a return to form for the band after their eponymous release earlier that year (the legendary album Destroyer). One may say it's great to save the best for last and that is exactly what KISS does on this record. The song that takes us home after nine great songs is Paul Stanley's Makin' Love. The song was co-written by Sean Delaney, who would go on to produce the band's album Double Platinum.
2. Rocket Ride
Ace Frehley was starting to become more and more absent from the band's proceedings by this time. The band's second live album Alive II would include a fourth side of studio tracks. One of which is Frehley's Rocket Ride. Ace's blistering guitar solo is probably the best damn thing he ever did with the band. Peter Criss plays like his life depends on it. The result is the ultimate song for the Space-man. The song would go on to become a staple in Frehley's live shows after he split from KISS.
1. Watchin' You
Gene Simmons offers up one of the band's best early tunes. Watchin' You is featured on the band's second album Hotter Than Hell. It was one of their live staples in the early days and stands the test of time. With lyrics like "I'm standin' here not quite aware - and I'm tryin' baby, tryin' not to stare" Simmons gives a respectable performance on this cut. Pete's drumming is on point. The band is ultimately in fine form. What would you expect from "The hottest band in the world..."?