Revenge made Kiss relevant again. 1982’s Creatures of The Night and 1983’s Lick It Up, re-established Kiss as a force to be reckoned with in the Eighties.
MTV was the outlet, and every time Lick it Up came on, it made me stop and watch. This was all about the music. The band had removed their make-up and they needed to make a statement. Lick It Up was that statement. That crunchy and distorted guitar from Vinnie Vincent is what makes the song roll. Of course, it wouldn’t be long before Vincent was shifted. It’s like Gene Simmons can’t handle having talented people around me for a long period of time. Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.
Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it
We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world. Make sure that no mess is left ladies.
By the time the keyboard heavy Crazy Nights (1987) and the pop metal Hot In The Shade (1989) came out, fans started to accuse the band of following whatever MTV trend was popular at the time.
Crazy Crazy Nights to me was so hooky and it was as good as anything else that was in the Charts at that time. I personally love the song, and this is in the era, post the Slippery When Wet explosion. It just reminds me of good times and crazy days, sort of like how Tesla’s Lazy Days and Crazy Nights song does. Listening to the Crazy Crazy Nights song today (I did an Eighties’ CD for my wife and this song was one of the songs I put on it) it just reminds me of how busy my life has come to be, where most of the time I am running on empty or caffeine. It would good to be able to kick back and relax.
They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd
A song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here. Crazy Crazy Nights was co-written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well. Going back to the well that gave birth to quality previously, is a good thing.
Going back to the Revenge album. The Nineties had a massive paradigm shift in the music business. Kiss, now had to compete with bands that released game changing albums. Nirvana released Nevermind and Pearl Jam released Ten bringing Grunge and Alternative Rock to the masses. U2 released Achtung Baby, Red Hot Chilli Peppers released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Metallica released the Black album, The Cult release Ceremony, Guns N Roses released the Use Your Illusion I and II albums, Ozzy Osbourne released No More Tears, Skid Row released Slave To The Grind, Pantera released A Vulgar Display of Power and Van Halen released For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. The majority of the albums had a heavy rock feel and in the case of Van Halen it was return to the brown sound.
Coming into the recording process of Revenge, Kiss already had some momentum going with God Gave Rock N Roll To You, which appeared in the movie, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991. The song is an Russ Ballard composition for the band Argent, however additional credit is given to Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Bob Ezrin. Argent at that time was trying to follow up their mega hit, Hold Your head Up, so when God Gave Rock And Roll To You came out, it bombed. However the song is a great song, and it is a good thing that Kiss rescued it and turned it into a hit.
For Kiss to be relevant in the Nineties, they had to do something different, so they hired a marketing consultant firm to find out what the fans wanted. The answers came back. The fans wanted more Demon, more heaviness, more rock and an album to rival 1976’s Destroyer. It was time to get the team together. Bob Ezrin who produced the epic Destroyer and the terrible Music From The Elder was hired to produce.
The biggest decision made was to use the fantastic, talented and egotistical Vinnie Vincent as a songwriter. Simmons and Stanley realised that Vincent’s contributions to the Creatures of The Night and Lick It Up albums, had produced songs that have become some of the best and well known Kiss songs in recent memory. The sinister single opener Unholy was written by Simmons and Vincent. It is heavy, it is evil and it fit perfectly in the current music climate at the time.
You send your children to war
To serve bastards and whores
It’s a tough lyric line. There is that devilish theme throughout the song.
Other classic Vincent penned songs that appear on Revenge are Heart of Chrome is written by Paul Stanley, Vinnie Vincent and Bob Ezrin, while I Just Wanna is written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent.
It is a shame that this song writing partnership went sour so quickly again, and they haven’t collaborated since.
Revenge is Kiss being themselves and by doing that, they made a record that satisfied the hard core fan bases and somehow also fitted in with the times,
Of course, the album is also in memory to drummer Eric Carr, who passed away due to cancer, before the recording process started. Eric Singer took his place in the band and he has been with Kiss, since then. How good was the Badlands project that Eric Singer was in, with Jake E.Lee, Ray Gillen and Greg Chaisson? However that is for another day.