Top 10 Kiss Albums

Kiss Albums

Photo: Casablanca Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Our top 10 Kiss album list looks at a famous rock and roll band formed in 1973 in the heart of New York City. The band Kiss would go on to become one of the most famous bands in Rock and Roll History. It’s hard to know where to start with the band because they were so unique in rock and roll. They were first and foremost a rock and roll band. However, as we all know, they marketed themselves by wearing makeup and costumes that stood out among all the other rock and roll bands. Would they have been as successful as they had become without the makeup? Well, that was part of the wonder of the band and why people loved them so much.

The makeup and the costumes were coordinated with live shows that employed fire and incredible lighting fueled by the spitting up of blood by the very scary-looking Gene Simmons. We all loved it. However, you can’t see the visuals on the radio. For any rock and roll band to succeed in the music business and last long, one needs hits and album sales. Interestingly, the first big hit that Kiss celebrated was a live track from the Alive! album entitled “Rock and Roll All Night.”  From then on, Kiss would enjoy one of the most successful careers any rock and roll band could have ever imagined. The band underwent many personnel changes over the years, with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley being the only continuous members.

Throughout their career, Kiss has released twenty studio albums. The band has also released eight live albums and fourteen compilation albums. Through all that, Kiss also released sixty singles and eight box sets. And, of course, one can’t fail to mention all the Kiss Army merchandise the group has sold throughout the years. Kiss is big business. Kiss is Rock and Roll. Kiss is part of our lives. Here are our favorite all-time top 10 Kiss albums.

Top 10 Kiss Albums

Kiss Albums

Photo: Tilly antoine, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

# 10 – Sonic Boom

We open our top 10 Kiss albums list with a very interesting Kiss album. Many Kiss fans and rock and roll fans in general may be surprised to find out that the Kiss album Sonic Boom is the band’s highest-charting album of their career on the Billboard Top 200 albums charts. Sonic Boom missed the number one spot in 2009, peaking at number two. The album was released on October 6th, 2009. It’s not the biggest selling Kiss album, in fact it hasn’t even sold half a million units. Still, at the time Kiss fans as well as many other rock and roll fans were very happy to have a new Kiss album. It had been eleven years since Kiss had released their last studio album entitled Psycho Circus in 1998.

The Sonic Boom album was brilliantly marketed. It was pretty much a box set release. Disc 1 contained the brand new album of 11 new Kiss songs. Disc 2 contained a greatest hits compilation of 15 classic songs. Disc 3 was a live DVD recorded in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2009, containing six live performances.

The Sonic Boom album featured Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, Eric Singer on drums, and the fabulous Tommy Thayer on guitar. When I first saw how many extras the band added to the new album release, I was concerned that they were doing this because maybe the new songs were weak. I could not have been more wrong. This was a great album. It was heavy, it rocked hard and at times even leaned towards the world of Led Zeppelin. The album’s greatest track and one of the best songs they had released in years was the Paul Stanley composition “Modern Day Delilah.” We cannot think of a better album to open up this top 10 list than the Sonic Boom record. It represented the band well after 50 years, proving they were still going strong, and Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons defined the notion that rock and rollers never get old.

Read More: Tommy Thayer: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview

# 9 – Lick It Up

Continuing with our Kiss albums list, we turn to the band’s 1983 record, Lick It Up. This album was released after Kiss appeared on MTV without makeup for the first time in their career. Remember how big of a deal that was?  Of course, it made sense that the band would appear on the album cover without costumes or makeup. At the time, only Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons remained from the original band, with Eric Carr now playing drums and the incredible Vinnie Vincent on lead guitar. The Lick It Up album also featured a guest appearance by Rick Derringer on the song “Exciter.”

Lick It Up continued the new sound Kiss had explored on the Creatures of the Night album. With Vinnie Vincent on guitars, the band sounded heavier than ever. Kiss did not lose sight of their commercial appeal, as the album’s first single, “Lick It Up,” got plenty of rotations on MTV. However, it only peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100. But it really wasn’t their fault; Michael Jackson was taking up all the spots.

# 8 – Dressed To Kill

Dressed to Kill was the band’s third studio album release. At the time, it became their highest-charting album on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number 32. The album was released on March 19th, 1975. The album contained the studio version of “Rock and Roll All Night,” which would become a big hit about eight months later when it was released on the Alive! album. Dressed to Kill is just a straightforward essential rock and roll album full of energy and great songs that began defining the heart and soul of Kiss. Their painted faces and costumes sometimes got in the way of their most significant attribute: their no-nonsense rock and roll. It all could be heard on this album.

# 7 – Creatures Of The Night

The Kiss album Creatures Of The Night was the band’s 10th release. The album was released on October 28th 1982. Let me tell you something: this is a smoking heavy rock and roll record. Listen to the sound of those drums on the title track, “Creatures Of the Night,” and that blistering guitar work. This was a sound that we had not heard before from Kiss. Steve Harris just kills it on guitar on this recording. The band brought in many guest musicians for this recording, and you could hear the difference in the instrumentation. For some, that was a good thing, but for others, it was not. This was an outlier in the Kiss catalog. The absence of Ace Frehley changed the sound of the band.

# 6 – Love Gun

How could you not love this album title and album cover? It’s just simply the perfect rock and roll album cover if you are a male rock and roll star…I guess. Love Gun was the band’s sixth studio album. The Love Gun album was released on June 30th, 1977. At the time, it would become the band’s highest-charting album on the US Billboard Top 200 albums list as it peaked at number four. Kiss was on a roll after having just released Destroyer and Rock and Roll Over. The band was really in a booming commercial groove. The group had become so big that after the Love Gun album was released, each member released their solo albums simultaneously with almost identical covers featuring just each member on his solo record.

The Love Gun album featured the hit single “Christine Sixteen,” which featured a great vocal sung by Gene Simmons, who also composed the track. The album also contained a cover of the classic Crystals song “Then He Kissed Me,” which of course they turned into “Then She Kissed Me.” The Love Gun album was the first time all four original members, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, all got to sing lead vocals. It was also the last Kiss album to feature all four original members on the same album.

# 5 – Hotter Than Hell

At the halfway point on our Kiss albums list, we turn to the band’s second album release, Hotter Than Hell. Despite one of the worst album covers in history, Hotter Than Hell was a great rock and roll record that further cemented the road Kiss was on to becoming one of the most popular rock and roll bands in the world. The Hotter Than Hell album was released on October 22nd, 1974. The album peaked at number 100 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums charts. It may have gone higher, but the album failed to release any hit singles. Nonetheless, it was still an excellent rock record that contained some soon-to-be Kiss classic songs, including the tracks ” Hotter Than Hell,” ‘Parasite,” and “Let Me Go Rock and Roll.”

# 4 – Rock And Roll Over

After the massive success of Destroyer, Kiss was faced with a pretty monumental task in following up on that great album. Amazingly, the group released their next album eight months later, on November 11th, 1976, entitled Rock And Roll Over. The same magic that filled the Destroyer album was found on Rock And Roll OverThe Rock And Roll Over album was fueled by the record’s first single, entitled “Hard Luck Woman.” A song which became a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The album’s second single, “Calling Dr. Love,” became a top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. What we loved about Rock And Roll Over was that every song was great. It was simply the band’s most consistent record they had ever put out.

# 3 – Kiss

At number three on our Kiss albums list is the band’s debut album entitled Kiss. The album was released on February 18th, 1974. It was not a massive hit in the United States, as it only peaked at number 87 on the US Billboard Top 200 album charts. Still, the album introduced us to a great rock and roll band. The album opened with one of the soon-to-be Kiss classics, “Strutter.” The album also contained many Kiss songs that the band would constantly perform throughout their career, including songs like “Nothing To Lose, Firehouse, Cold Gin,” and the great Kiss song “Deuce,” not to mention the album closer “Black Diamond. It’s our second favorite Kiss studio album of all time. Basic, pure, and all genuine rock and roll.

# 2 – Alive

At number two on our Kiss albums list is one of the ultimate live albums ever released, entitled Alive! The Kiss Alive!  album was released on September 10th, 1975. Casablanca Records heavily promoted this album. Every record store you walked into in 1975 had huge Alive! album cover posters put up everywhere in the store. Huge display racks of the Alive! album was centered right when you first walked into record stores in every single mall across the United States. With a cover that was simply mesmerizing, everyone wanted to buy this album, even if you never even heard of the band before. But chances are you did because the live single “Rock and Roll All Night” was a massive hit for the band.

For many, many of us are Alive! was the first Kiss album we ever purchased. Despite being great rock and roll records, the band’s first three albums had not made them well known to people outside of the rock and roll business and hardcore fans. It wasn’t until the Alive!  the album was released, and Kiss became a household name. It was just a roaring great live rock & roll album everyone had to have. A double record set with a great gatefold cover and pictures that you just stared out for hours and hours and hours. It was the start of the Kiss Army, the Kiss cult following, the Kiss everything. If you became a Kiss fan after purchasing Alive! you became a Kiss fan for life.

# 1 – Destroyer

We close out our Kiss albums list with the band’s most popular album of all time  entitled Destroyer. If you were alive in the 1970s and a teenager in 1976, chances are you had this album not just in your collection but probably hanging up on your wall, staring at the cover every day of your teenage life. Trying to describe how big this album was, especially for Kiss fans, is almost impossible. We were blown away the second we put the needle on the vinyl and heard the opening sounds of “Detroit Rock City,” a song written by Paul Stanley and album producer Bob Ezrin. It is one of the all-time great classic rock songs and one of Kiss’s most explosive album openers.

Once the “Detroit Rock City” song was over, we were greeted with another great Paul Stanley vocal called “King of the Night Time World.” Two rocking Gene Simmons vocals called “God of Thunder” and “Great Expectations” closed out the first side of Destroyer.

Side two of the album Destroyer opened up with an Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons track called ‘Flaming Youth.” It was the only song on the album in which Ace Frehley got writers’ credit. Another rocking Gene Simmons song, “Sweet Pain,” followed the side two opener. And then it was off to the big hits. The album’s opening single, “Shout It Out Loud,” featured lead vocals shared by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. This was a big one! The song “Shout It Out Loud”  reached number 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100. However, it became a number one single in Canada. Surprisingly, it didn’t get any higher on the Billboard Hot 100. Those darn Bee Gees just kept hogging the charts. At the time, it was the band’s second biggest hit after Rock and Roll All Night.” That was until the next single was released, a song titled “Beth.”

There are things in life that seem not to make sense. The fact that a rocking, loud, in-your-face band like Kiss would celebrate their biggest hit single as a ballad, I guess, doesn’t matter if it made sense or not because it happened. “Beth” was released as the second single from the Destroyer LP. The song broke the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 peaking at number seven making it the band’s highest charting song of their career in the United States on the Billboard top 100. Changing the song’s name from “Beck” to “Beth” was probably a good idea because Beck just would not have worked.

The song “Beth” was written by Peter Criss, Stan Pennridge and Bob Ezrin. The iconic lead vocal was performed by Peter Criss, who played drums in the band. All the girls loved Peter. It was amazing how big of a song “Beth” had become. I will never forget all the people saying, “Wait a second, that’s Kiss?” Other band members brought up issues about how much Peter Criss contributed to the composition of the song “Beth.” Just how much of the song did Peter Criss write as opposed to his friend Stan Pennridge remains untold. Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter anymore because they all made a lot of money on it. And, of course, a top 10 hit will always help fuel album sales.

The Destroyer album also became the band’s biggest-selling Kiss album of their career. It has since sold 2 million copies which is pretty impressive since it failed to break into the Billboard top 200 albums charts top 10 list just missing a number 11. Still, if we had to choose our favorite Kiss album, it would always be Destroyer.

Top 10 Kiss Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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