The Year Of KISS: Paul Stanley (1978)

“You keep your love in chains….”

Of the four KISS solo albums released in 1978, Paul Stanley is, at least in my opinion, the one that sounds the most like a KISS album. Loaded with power pop and rock, a few Ace-like hooks, and Paul’s voice exploring its range, this album sounds like KISS both past and present. I can hear bits and pieces of KISS, Dressed To Kill, Love Gun, and Rock And Roll Over and the soon-to-come pop sounds of Dynasty and Unmasked. I can even hear hints of KISS’ mid-1980’s sound.

The Starchild relied on more musicians than Ace Frehley but used about half as many as Gene Simmons and Peter Criss. He handled most of the guitars on the album, utilizing Bob Kulick on a few tracks on lead guitar and split the bass duties between two bassists, Steve Buslowe and Eric Nelson. The most recognizable name on the album outside of Stanley and Kulick is most likely drummer Carmine Appice, who added his drums to Take Me Away (Together As One).

The album shows the strength of Stanley as not only a singer and guitarist, but as a songwriter and producer as well. It is the only album of the four solos to feature completely original material. Stanley wrote all of the songs except for Move On, Ain’t Quite Right, and Take Me Away (Together As One). Mikel Japp co-wrote those tracks with Stanley. Jeff Glixman produced four of the album’s tracks with Stanley handling the rest. Stanley and Mike D. Stone mixed the album. This foreshadows Stanley’s producer credits on future KISS releases such as Hot In The Shade, Sonic Boom, and Monster.

Stanley knows how to write excellent power pop and rock tracks, and this can be heard throughout the album, especially on tracks like Love In Chains and Move On. He also shines on power ballads like the slightly sappy Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart) and the punchier, rock-tinged Tonight You Belong To Me. There are some very Ace Frehley-like sounds heard on the solos for Move On, Goodbye, and Ain’t Quite Right which makes me wonder just how much of an influence Stanley had on Ace’s style of play and vice versa.

The album featured nine original tracks. Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart) was the lone single. It managed to reach the 46th spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 edging out Gene Simmons’ Radioactive as the second most successful single from the four solo albums. The album itself peaked at #40 on the US Billboard 200 chart, making it the third most successful album of the four solo releases.

Track Listing:

  1. Tonight You Belong To Me
  2. Move On
  3. Ain’t Quite Right
  4. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me
  5. Take Me Away (Together As One)
  6. It’s Alright
  7. Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart) (Single)
  8. Love In Chains
  9. Goodbye

Personnel: Paul Stanley (lead, rhythm, and acoustic guitars, lead vocals, backing vocals, EBow), Bob Kulick (lead and acoustic guitar), Steve Buslowe (bass), Eric Nelson (bass), Richie Fontana (drums), Carmine Appice (drums), Craig Krampf (drums), Diana Grasselli, Miriam Naomi Valle, Maria Vidal, and Peppy Castro (backing vocals), Doug Katsaros (piano, strings, backing vocals), and Steve Lacey (guitars).

Stanley spends a lot of the album talking about love, broken hearts, and emotions. The single, Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart), is my least favorite track on the album and, in my opinion, the sappiest. The title is also long and awkward. This one tracks slows the album down considerably and almost derails the whole record. Thankfully it is book-ended by two of my favorite tracks on the album, It’s Alright and Love In Chains. The rest of the tracks are amazing as well and the album is wrapped up nicely by the guitar-driven Goodbye.

While Ace’s album is my favorite, Paul’s album is a very close second. Both albums deserve to be in any KISS fan’s collection. Paul’s solo album proves that he was and still is the heart and soul of KISS and its driving force.

Thanks for reading my post. Next month I’ll be returning to the band’s regular studio albums beginning with the first album of the No Makeup era, Lick It Up. Let me know what you think of the Year Of KISS so far in the comments and tell me what you’d like to have me cover in later installments in this series.

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