Kiss - 1987 Crazy Nights

Lee South AfricaLee South Africa South Africa
edited June 2020 in year-1987

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ARTIST: Kiss
ALBUM: Crazy Nights
LABEL: Mercury
SERIAL: 832 626-1 (LP), 832 626-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1987
CD REISSUE: 1998, Mercury, 558 861-2

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

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

Background

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'.

The Songs

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.

In Summary

'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.

Videos

Reason To Live

Turn On The Night


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Comments

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    gdazegodgdazegod Lostralia
    edited June 2020
    Well I gotta say, I really like this record, but that's more in retrospect because I never bought the LP or CD at the time. Most of Lee's points are on point in his article, for me at least.

    I know some of you regulars will probably disagree, but all in all, I enjoyed all of Kiss' material during the 80's.
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    I got into KISS in the 80s and love this era, the only blip being the throwaway Animalize. I don't personally get why we can't like the harder hitting Creatures of the Night, Revenge, Carnival Of Souls era of the band AND the smoother Unmasked and Crazy Nights, but other than that personal view of mine, this review is spot on.

    I'll admit that when I first heard the single Crazy Crazy Nights I struggled to grasp my hard rocking heroes going soft but once I had the album it all clicked into place, although it was odd having my school friends suddenly become aware of the band that were my favourites!

    Personally I really like No No No. I think it's more aggressive bent and superb guitar and drum work makes for a nice contrast on an album that does have quite a singular view but it's actually My Way that I always gravitate back to on this record.

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this and it's inspired me to dig the album out later today!
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    PatrickHemmingPatrickHemming Tampa Florida
    Nice review Lee. I’m quite the fan of KISS especially when Paul is leading the charge.

    Having Ron Nevison produce the album was a smart move as Nevison’s work was all over radio at the time with Survivor, Heart, Ozzy & Europe. I know it wasn’t an accident that Paul chose Ron to lead the charge.

    While Creatures & Lick It Up are my favorite hard rock albums in the 80’s KISS cannon, Unmasked & Crazy Nights see the band delivering 80’s AOR Magic and are two of my favorite KISS albums of any era.
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    I know this review has been around for years on the old sites, but I have never understood how ‘Creatures’ is a disappointment. One of the best ever. ‘Crazy Nights’ is a great album too, ‘My Way’ being the pick of the bunch.
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