KISS – Lick it Up (Review)

A KISS Klassik on CD and Vinyl
A KISS Klassik on CD and Vinyl

I discovered KISS in the late 80s. Up until Crazy Nights, they had never made much of a splash in the UK, so without much info on the band or their history I generally just ordered the cassettes that had the coolest titles and, subsequently, Lick it Up was an early acquisition. I didn’t know or care that it was their first album sans make-up so let’s not get into that too much. Suffice to say KISS had been floundering around for a few years, not quite sure what they wanted to do or who they wanted to do it with. A thrilling moment of discovery came with the stunning Creatures of the Night album. KISS were a full-blooded Metal band. Unfortunately, the sales were less than stunning so KISS played their trump card, removing the make-up for publicity and also signifying their new found musical confidence.

Lick it Up is the sound of that confidence. Not quite as dynamic and anthemic as Creatures but the solid sound of a band that means business. And business was good! Lick it Up became their first album to go Gold in 3 years.

There’s a real sense of danger and threat in these songs. Tracks like Exciter and Million to One cut and thrust with emotively strained and dynamic vocals from HMO man-crush, Paul Stanley. Gene Simmons’ songs mostly rumble and lurch menacingly with little of the Blues/Rock N’ Roll licks he would rely on for the rest of the decade. Gimmie More and Fits Like a Glove are filthy raunch and All Hell’s Breaking Loose and the title track (it’s basically sex music) provide the anthemic relief. Drummer Eric Carr hits hard and reins in the tempo which adds to the muscular vibe but the whole album is tied together by its star player, lead guitarist and songwriter on 8 of the 10 tracks: Vinnie Vincent. Curbing (or forced to curb) his widdlier tendencies, his classy riffs, licks and solos are the most remarkable and creative contributions to the album.

Unfortunately, Vinnie would soon be gone and, although KISS would continue to release superb albums for the rest of the decade, they were never quite this good or this assured again. Lick it Up is not only a strong contender for the greatest KISS album of all-time but a strong contender for my favourite album of all-time. Don’t agree? Well, listen bitch! I’ve got news…

HMO Rating: 5 out of 5

[KISS – Exciter]

CD Rear Cover
CD Rear Cover
Advertisements

33 thoughts on “KISS – Lick it Up (Review)”

  1. I liked Creatures of the Night, good album. Lick It Up was something new and different although my sister thought KISS were so ugly that they should have kept their make up on. lol Good post

    Like

    1. I always think of Creatures and this as great companion albums but there is something different about Lick it Up. Totally agree with you there. Your sister’s probably right but Paul Stanley would probably object!

      Like

  2. Dude, this nails it on the head. Just rocking out to your Exciter linkage right now. Fucking great album. I want this on vinyl too. I wonder if there is a 180 gram reissue?

    When all is said and done, can I REALLY pick my favourite Kiss album? I think I’ve named Hotter Than Hell before (my first) but just listening to Exciter…who’s to say Lick It Up isn’t a contender? After all, when I’m tired with Hotter Than Hell, what album do I grab next? Usually Creatures and Lick It Up. And don’t they make me feel just as great as Hotter Than Hell? Yoooouuuu betcha!

    Like

    1. Thanks Mike! It is a fucking great album. Never seen it on 180g but I think the KISS catalogue is due an overhaul! Bonus tracks please…

      I say Lick it Up is my favourite pretty tentatively based on it’s importance to me starting out as a Metal fan and the fact that it still holds up. But for pure listening enjoyment these days, I think Creatures might edge it. As far as the 70s studio goes I’m a big Dynasty fan! But picking favourite KISS album is about as difficult as it gets.

      Like

      1. I think Kiss are being very coy when it comes to bonus tracks…for a reason. (Saving them up for retirement, the kids’ retirements, etc.) Every once in a while, they cough something up. “Here’s a box set, with a taste…” And then a few years later, “Here’s an unreleased guitar solo to Sweet Pain!” They’re really dragging it out!

        But you know there are unreleased demos, because we have bootlegs of them. I have one very rough incomplete demo of a song called “You”, on which Paul and Vinnie were working out a huge-sounding harmony chorus.

        Like

      2. Yeah I can understand them being coy (and maybe not wanting to focus too much on their past?) but they are rreeeaalllyyyyy dragging it out! Some archive live recordings wouldn’t go amiss even. They must have stuff like that coming out their arse!

        Like

  3. I grew up loving the title track. Thank god I didn’t know what it was really about then. Despite the majority think, and even with the sidesteps here and there, Kiss were still a decent band without the make-up. Revenge is cool, too.

    Like

    1. Absolutely, I love 80s KISS. A lot of people say they got too generic but they stood out for me. Revenge is a cool album and I always really rated Animalize and Asylum too.

      Thanks for stopping by! Much appreciated.

      Like

    1. I rate both those albums very highly. The 80s was really my favourite period of the band’s career. The main reason I would rate Creatures/Lick it Up higher is because Gene’s material was slightly better at that point. Paul Stanley was consistently at the top of his game and later on, I think Gene’s material often seemed like filler compared to his (although I still love a lot of it). But there’s not much in it! All of the albums from Creatures to Hot in the Shade could find their way into my top albums list easily.

      Like

      1. I’ve got that one! It was a good read. There was a cover story in Classic Rock’s AOR magazine earlier in the year all about their 80s period too. It was a great read and had some awesome photos. Worth tracking down a back issue if your into that period.

        Like

      2. I enjoyed the AOR piece because it covered that period and brought back memories but I don’t suppose there were any great revelations there… Behind The Mask was a great book too. Especially the song by song section.

        Like

  4. I like KISS, but I’m just a tourist. It’s fun for me to read along with all you guys who are more closely attached to these records and know one from the other and their merits and faults. I get to follow along and benefit from all your knowledge. That Exciter is a cool track. Rawk.

    Like

  5. I liked what you said about the new confidence found in Kiss being more metal committed. I bet they didn’t want to be outshines. Stanley sounds emotively strained for the passion. And it’s cool to hear this. My first listen. A unique voice, Stanley has. Vincent sounds like quite the impetus for forward metal progression. Fiery intro to the record. Thanks HMO. Thanks Kiss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Adam. Yeah, I’ll bet they felt they had a lot to prove with this album. I love Stanley’s voice, it’s definitely unique and Vincent was awesome here. Shame it didn’t work out for him with KISS. And if you like this one, I’d recommend their Creatures of the Night album too. It’s equally excellent!

      Like

The Heavy Metal Overlord awaits your response!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s