As the 4 people that read my “Best Of 2017” list can attest, I love making music lists. They’re fun. What’s even more fun is arguing about them afterwards. This was confirmed when Eddie Trunk once again did a Top 20 list. Last year he did a Top 20 Aerosmith songs. It was amazing listening to fans call in and express dismay over omissions. It was topped when Tom Morello and other musicians chimed in. hearing them revert to being a fan was very cool.
The success of the Aerosmith list ensured that another was to follow. Naturally, KISS was the choice. Anyone that has listened to Eddie knows that they are his favorite band even if they no longer talk to him. Like him, they are my favorite band too. I don’t go to the shows anymore and the last couple of albums have stunk. Still, the are my faves. When I hear their music I become the same 12 year old as when I first heard them. My uncle Brian introduced them to me when he gave me his copy of The Originals. I still have it to this day. Same as all their other albums I got growing up. Love Gun which I got as a birthday present right before I went on a road trip to Indiana. I was so obsessed I took it with me even though I had no way to play it. The four solo albums I bought from a record store that I would later work at. The Dynasty album that I remember my Dad saying was catchy and I knew something had changed. Not in a good way. Another birthday gift was Unmasked and was disappointed by the horrible cover but still loved what was inside. It was around then when I fell of the bandwagon but jumped back on for Asylum. Which I still have, in the shrink.
After listening to Eddie’s list and the fallout I had to make my own. If you have SiriusXM I implore you to listen to it and his explanations for each. You hear the kid in him and how each song has stuck with him. The next days show where John 5, Morello, Charlie Benante and others give their list is a must too.
The method I chose in making my list was to go album by album and chose “must haves” from each. Then I whittled it down to twenty. Remembered a couple songs, then whittled again. So here is my Top 20, as of now because it will change in about 3 hours.
20-DEUCE-Alive-you could go with the studio version but the live one has the iconic intro that we all know. Plus the live energy gives it a bit of a kick.
19-GOT TO CHOSE-Hotter Than Hell-This one of their best vocal songs. The way they have the big harmonic chorus and the Paul sings is fantastic. Love the “ooo who who’s”
18-WHO WANTS TO BE LONELY-Asylum-the neon videos aside, there was a lot to like about this album. This track was prime Paul pop. Hooky as all get out.
17-I STOLE YOR LOVE-ALIVE II-again, you could go with the studio version but this “Live” version sounds like its played a couple beats faster and rocks.
16-WATCHIN’ YOU-Hotter Than Hell-I always loved the way the song starts. Ace guitar, then bass joins, then the drums and now were off and running. Liked how Gene sings lead but Paul comes in for a line or two. That and there really isn’t a traditional solo more vamping the main riff than anything. Plus some killer cowbell.
15-IS THAT YOU?-Unmasked-this album is odd because it was at their lowpoint but has some killer tracks. It’s a simple riff but Paul’s attitude is off the charts and the opening two lines are catnip for me.
14-WAR MACHINE-Creatures of the Night-I have to wonder if I love this song so much is due to the song or because it was used as Humongous’ walk out music in Mid South. What, you have no idea what I’m talking about? Humongous was a wrestler who looked like the guy with the same name from Road Warrior.
See! The song is great too. Eric Carr’s drums are unreal on this album and on here it’s another level. If you look up powerhouse in the dictionary, this drum sound should be listed.
13-LOVE HER ALL I CAN-Dressed To Kill-since this album is in The Originals collection I listened to it endlessly. It has a bit of a funky feel to it and Gene and Paul trade vocals on it which is a treat.
12-MASTER & SLAVE-Carnival of Souls-I am dead certain that if you complied all the lists that came out of Eddie doing the show I am the only one that has this track on theirs. People say Carnival is KISS going grunge and poo poo it. While it’s obvious they were trying to fit in, lots of good stuff on there. Great bass line and could have easily fit in on Revenge. Big singalong chorus that drops out until big riffs come in. Love it.
11-DOMINO-Revenge-the aforementioned Revenge shows up. On his show Eddie mentioned how KISS thinks its holy trinity is Destroyer, Creatures, and Revenge. He thinks Revenge is not as good and I tend to agree. Very top heavy record. One of the best is Domino. Honestly, if you need a definition of a Gene song, this is it. Confidence, humor, hooks, and sex talk. Plus in the video Paul plays bass, how cool is that.
10-ALL HELL’S BREAKING LOOSE-Lick It Up-I mentioned Paul and attitude before and this song has it in spades. His rap is just amazing and awe inspiring. So fun. Nice guitar work from Vinnie lays a foundation for Paul to do his thang.
9-TOMORROW-Unmasked-another Unmasked song? Yep. If this song would have come out a couple years before or a couple after it would have been a huge hit. It sounds like a modernized version of a 50’s song that Paul grew up on. Simple, perfect.
8-ROCKET RIDE-Alive II-when I bought this I was so happy to get a live album plus 5 new songs. 5 new songs!! Apparently Ace channeled Gene and wrote a filthy song dripping with double entendre. The climbing riff fits perfectly with the rocket theme and showcases Ace’s humor.
7-CREATURES OF THE NIGHT-Creatures of the Night-coming after the shitshow that was The Elder, Creatures was a revelation. A true return to form and reminded everyone who KISS were. The drums were big and powerful and decades later are the example of what heavy drums should sound like. The little extra bits Vinnie would play in between lines are delectable.
6-I-Music From The Elder-What an atrocious album. What do you expect when a rock band tries to impress the critics and involve Lou Reed. Is there a more over hyped “artist than Lou Reed? Hes a glorified one-hit wonder that the only reason people know who he is comes from being in NYC and having famous friends. However the one bright spot is “I”. Motivational lyrics and gang choruses plus Paul and Gene trading vocals is a sure fire winner. It’s like someone turned the poster of the Just Hang In There cat into a song.
5-YOUNG & WASTED-Lick It Up-like Domino this is a textbook Gene song. Very aggressive feel to it. Once again a song where Paul and Gene trade vocals. Favorite part is at the end when Paul finishes a line Vinnie plays something crazy while Gene wails. It’s the most frantic and out of control the band ever got. So good.
4-LARGER THAN LIFE-Alive II-This is the quintessential Gene song. There is no innuendo here, this is laid out bare. And it’s awesome. Two great solo’s from Bob Kulick plus the drums are big. Very big, almost Bonham -like
3-BLACK DIAMOND-KISS-the only Peter song on here. You would think that his vocals wouldn’t work on a rocker like this but they do.
2-100,000 YEARS–KISS-people are quick to dismiss Gene but he is a terrific bass player. This is a perfect showcase of his playing. I love the breakdown when it’s just the drums then everyone comes back in. One of my favorite Ace tracks, he is killing it here.
1-MAKIN’ LOVE-Rock Roll Over-in all honesty, this probably isn’t the best song. The main reason I have it #1 is that his is the first song I knew all the words too. As a young teen I was singing “Making Love” even though I had no idea what that actually meant. Honestly, you could wake me up in the middle of a deep sleep and I could sing the words. Nostalgia aside, I do love this song even though some of the lyrics do not age well.
So there it is, 1-20. as of now. I wrote the list, then typed it out. Then cut and pasted the order a couple more times. My choices really cover their career. While many concentrated on the early years, I could not ignore the non-makeup albums. So much good stuff. And I don’t care what anyone says Carnival of Souls is a fantastic album. I think it’s the best non-makeup one.
You can see that I left some obvious tracks off. No “Detroit Rock City” or “Rock And Roll All Night”. Granted there is some “Stairway To Heaven” effect here and not really wanting to hear them again. It’s not that I don’t like those songs it’s just that I’m not going to dial them up on Spotify. The ones you want to hear again and again should be how you determine the list.
So grab you phone, a par and paper and make your list.
You know you want to .