The Ten Most Underrated Paul Stanley/KISS Songs
He is the ultimate rock star…with or without the star.
Today is the birthday of Paul Stanley, who was born Stanley Eisen in Manhatten, NY on January 20th, 1952. Along with Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, Stanley and KISS climbed to the top of the rock and roll mountain by the end of the 70s. They were "The Hottest Band In The World".
Stanley has held the position of KISS front man since the band formed on this month back in 1973 in New York City. In the 45-year run of KISS Stanley has thrived and survived through lineup changes, internal band squabbles, the death of a band-mate, and the seismic shifts in trending sounds that would come during the 80s and 90s.
Thanks to constant touring and some radio-friendly songs like "Rock and Roll All Nite", "Detroit Rock City", "Love Gun" and "I Was Made For Lovin' You" Kiss has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. Those who proudly wear their KISS Army badge will tell you, however, that there is much more to KISS than the hits and Paul Stanley has a lot to do with that.
Here are the ten most underrated KISS songs sung and written by Paul Stanley.
"Silver Spoon" (1989)Album: Hot In The Shade
KISS went from near extinction early on in the 80s to finishing the decade in good shape thanks in big part to Paul Stanley. With Gene Simmons more interested in pursuing a movie career it was up to Stanley to carry the weight in the studio for the non-makeup era version of the band.
With a pair of hit singles, "Forever" and "Hide Your Heart", the band's 1989 album 'Hot In The Shade' held its own against the newer bands dominating the charts at the time. Although there aren't too many other noteworthy songs on the album besides the singles it's "Silver Spoon" that remains the exception. It's a hard rocker with a great hook and Stanley's vocals are more than worthy of the painted star he once wore and would wear again seven years later.
"Comin' Home" (1974)Album: Hotter Than Hell
KISS was making a name as a live act very early on but struggled to capture that live magic in studio. On the band's second album 'Hotter Than Hell' they missed the mark once again in large part to the tinny production sound that has continued to leave fans puzzled. Beneath the weak production are some very strong tracks, however, and "Comin' Home" is one of them.
In 1995 KISS would bring this classic track back and perform it during their MTV Unplugged concert. It was a fitting song to play since the original four band members (Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley & Peter Criss) joined together on stage to play together for the first time in close to 15 years.
"Tomorrow" (1980)Album: Unmasked
There are KISS albums that get a bad rap by most music fans but every now and then the vocal minority has to stand up and defend their beloved band. I urge you to give the 1980 'Unmasked' album another listen or, if you've never heard it all, to give it a shot.
At the time it was not what KISS fans were hoping for. Instead of gritty straight-ahead rockers the band, instead, went with the pop sheen approach. That doesn't mean they weren't done exceptionally well. Check out this Paul Stanley-sung tune called "Tomorrow".
"My Way" (1987)Album: Crazy Nights
Much like 1980's 'Unmasked' the 1987 KISS album 'Crazy Nights' has drawn the ire of many-a-fan but I'm not one of them.
I get it. If you're a fan of the band from the 70s the keyboard-heavy sound of 'Crazy Nights' can be hard to take but, hey, those was the times we were in. Pretty much everyone used synthesizers and keyboards.
This is Paul Stanley leaving it all out there vocally. His "no quit, never-say-die" attitude has always inspired fans and this track could be considered one of the best examples of that.
"The Oath" (1981)Album: Music From "The Elder"
The 1981 album 'Music From "The Elder"' isn't just another much-maligned KISS album. This is maybe the most maligned album in rock history. It's the one which KISS has lived to regret the most.
At the time it seemed like a great idea. Let's bring in Bob Ezrin, the man who produced Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', and make our own concept album right?
O.K. The album as a whole is a mess but, I admit it, I love some of the songs on this album. Ace Frehley's "Dark Light" and "Escape From The Island" are great. The track "I" is cool too. Maybe my favorite from the album, though, is "The Oath" sung by Paul Stanley.
This would have easily worked on any other KISS album but it just happened to be included in one that has, unfortunately, been serving a life sentence without parole.
"I Still Love You" (1982)Album: Creatures Of The Night
KISS returned to their hard rock roots on 1982's 'Creatures Of The Night' and made it worth the wait for KISS fans. The rest of the rock world missed out on the fun at the time, though, since they had given up on KISS who had lost their way by the start of the 80s. Eventually the word slowly but surely got out that this was and still is an album worth including in a rock fan's music collection.
On "I Still Love You" Paul Stanley proves that, when it comes to power ballads, he can put forth a powerful performance.
"Rock Bottom" (1975)Album: Dressed To Kill
We're goin' back to old-school KISS for song #4 on this list. "Rock Bottom" starts off with a beautiful dual-guitar musical piece from Paul Stanley and song co-writer Ace Frehley. This KISS Klassic is spell binding to start, fist-pumping to finish. It's everything a great rock and roll song should be.
"I Want You" (1976)Album: Rock and Roll Over
Much like "Rock Bottom", "I Want You" starts off slowly before diving head-first into a heavy rocker. On this one, however, Paul Stanley doesn't wait long to get right to the hard stuff.
From what many KISS fans will say is their favorite album, 'Rock and Roll Over', this classic track stands as one of the best of the best from Paul Stanley and KISS.
"I Stole Your Love" (1978)Album: Love Gun
If only I was born about ten years earlier so I could have experienced what it was like dropping the needle and hearing this song explode out of my phonograph speakers. This is the best opening track of any KISS album. From the 'Love Gun' album comes this hard-driving rocker that not only makes the ideal album opener but the perfect opener to a KISS concert.
What a pure adrenaline rush it must have been to hear this song kick in as the original four burst onto stage with boundless energy. I was about five at the time this album came out. It wouldn't more than a few years, however, before I caught KISS fever and never recovered.
"100,000 Years [Alive! Version] (1975)Album: KISS Alive!
Let's open The Book of Rock, turn our pages to The Gospel of Paul and start clapping those hands!
As great as Paul Stanley is in the studio he is that much better in concert. He does more than just sing the songs with fever. He does more than dance and leap around with limitless energy. He is also rock and roll's foremost preacher.
The rap during the breakdown of "100,000 Years" on the Alive! album is hands-down my favorite Paul Stanley moment. Paul wants to know how many people in the audience believe in Rock and Roll? After that brilliant speech I'd like to know how many people don't!