Kiss are often dismissed as just another metal/hard rock band, but in truth there’s plenty of AOR and melodic rock to enjoy from 1978 onwards.
Written by: Lee South Africa
ALBUM: Crazy Nights
SERIAL: 832 626-1 (LP), 832 626-2 (CD)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Paul Stanley – vocals, guitar, keyboards * Bruce Kulick – guitar * Eric Carr – drums, vocals * Gene Simmons – vocals, bass
TRACK LISTING: 01 Crazy Crazy Nights * 02 I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You * 03 Bang Bang You * 04 No No No * 05 Hell Or High Water * 06 My Way * 07 When Your Walls Come Down * 08 Reason To Live * 09 Good Girl Gone Bad * 10 Turn On The Night * 11 Thief In The Night
WEBLINKS: Site Link
A very personal album for me to review, since this was the pivotal high school album that put me on the righteous melodic/AOR path. Kiss are often dismissed as just another metal/hard rock band, but in truth there’s plenty of AOR and melodic rock to enjoy from 1978 onwards, when Paul Stanley took control of the band’s direction with melodic inclinations.
This album had the added advantage of Ron Nevison in the producer’s chair, preventing Gene Simmons from spoiling any of the songs with his usual grumbling and growling – he actually had to sing this time! With Phil Ashley and Paul Stanley sharing long overdue keyboard duties, ‘Crazy Nights’ is the most deliberate AOR Kiss album since 1980’s ‘Unmasked’.
Built around an unforgettable hook and a big anthem chorus, the title track is a true classic of the genre. Wonderful supporting keyboards add texture and atmosphere, a recurring delight throughout the album. ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ was a genuine hit, peaking at the dizzy heights of #4 on the British charts.
‘I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You’ keeps the melody factor very high, sporting a mid tempo strut, those ever present keys and a superb chorus, which is sung by Paul without any backing. Needless to say, he’s in fine voice. ‘Bang Bang You’ is such a pleasant surprise musically, that you can forgive the rather naughty lyrics. Taking the shape of yet another melodic anthem, the keys are more upfront and used to good effect.
Next up is ‘No No No’, the only throwaway on the record, and yes it’s sung by Gene. A frantic pace and very weak melody consign this one to the scrap heap, but it is worth the odd listen just for the power drumming display by the much missed Eric Carr.
‘Hell Or High Water’ ushers in another Gene vocal, this time far more melodic and smooth in nature. It’s a pleasure to hear that he can actually sing when he wants to, and I’m sure Ron Nevison had something to do with this.
Paul’s back for the next anthem called ‘My Way’. Far more prominent keys and melodies aplenty make this lesson in self belief a pleasure to revisit time and again. He sings the chorus alone, but such is his vocal form, it actually suits the song. ‘When Your Walls Come Down’ is another Paul anthem, slightly raunchier in nature but still melodic.
Very upfront keyboards signal the arrival of ‘Reason To Live’, the album’s requisite power ballad and a highlight in the Kiss catalogue. The melody is simple but majestic, and that hook will never let go. As ever, Paul sings it like only he can.
We’re three tracks from the end, where record companies tend to pour in the filler tracks, but ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ is certainly Gene’s finest moment on the album. Delivering a convincingly smooth vocal, this dreamy mid tempo track will leave you wondering why he resorts to growling so often.
Track 10 is an AOR dream come true entitled ‘Turn On The Night’. Sweeping keys and vintage mid 80’s melodies combine with Paul’s last vocal on the album to create a towering classic. Eric Carr’s powerful backbeat must again be singled out for special praise. Bruce Kulick is in fine melodic form on lead guitar.
Gene closes the album with a worthy atmospheric rocker called ‘Thief In The Night’. This track was written in the early 80’s for an album that was shelved in favour of the magnificent ‘The Elder’ record, but Wendy O Williams covered it on her solo album during the mid 80’s.
‘Creatures Of The Night’, ‘Revenge’ and ‘Carnival Of Souls’ are the only disappointments you’ll encounter from ‘Dynasty’ onwards, so there’s plenty of melodic rock/AOR to discover in the Kiss catalogue. Having said that, ‘Crazy Nights’ is the reigning champion.
Crazy Crazy Nights
Reason To Live
Turn On The Night
Entire Album (Select Tracks)