The Year Of KISS: Crazy Nights (1987)

“This is our music, we love it loud!”

Just over two years after the release of Asylum, KISS gave the world their fourteenth studio album, Crazy Nights. Released on September 21, 1987, it was the longest break between albums for the band since the release of Love Gun (1977) and Dynasty (1979) not counting the four solo albums in 1978. The band released one album a year from 1979 to 1985, and went through two drummers and four lead guitarists during that time. Thankfully Bruce Kulick proved to be a keeper and the stability of his and drummer Eric Carr’s abilities gave KISS their strongest lineup in my opinion.

Despite the stability of Carr and Kulick, the band was still dealing with infighting primarily between Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Stanley, ever the frontman, continued to champion the cause of KISS throughout the 80’s and Gene was trying to break into acting and music management. Stanley accused Gene of slacking off with the band and even Simmons has said over the years that he was lost as an artist at the time. It shows on Crazy Nights. Stanley’s songs on the album are much, much better than Simmons’ tunes.

The band stripped back much of their glam look from the previous few years, primarily wearing tight leather, spandex, and darker colors with a lot less makeup. That being said, the videos produced for the album’s singles featured plenty of flamboyancy and glammed up looks, especially from Paul.

The album featured eleven tracks. Of those tracks, three were released as singles. The first single, Crazy Crazy Nights, was very successful. It managed to reach #4 on the UK Singles Chart, #37 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart, #65 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the Norwegian Singles Chart, #9 on the Irish Singles Chart, and charted on a total of eight different charts overall. The second single, the power ballad Reason To Live, hit #34 and #64 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock and Billboard Hot 100 charts, respectively. The final single, Turn On The Night, only managed to reach #41 on the UK Singles Chart. The album itself reached #18 on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum less than two months after its release. It was KISS’ highest charting album in the 1980’s.

Track Listing:

  1. Crazy Crazy Nights (Single)
  2. I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You
  3. Bang Bang You
  4. No, No, No
  5. Hell Or High Water
  6. My Way
  7. When Your Walls Come Down
  8. Reason To Live (Single)
  9. Good Girl Gone Bad
  10. Turn On The Night (Single)
  11. Thief In The Night

Personnel: Paul Stanley (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Bruce Kulick (lead guitars, backing vocals), Eric Carr (drums, backing vocals, percussion), Gene Simmons (lead vocals, bass, backing vocals)

Stanley provided lead vocals on seven of the eleven tracks on the album. Simmons sang lead on the four other tracks. Tom Kelly provided additional backing vocals. The band also added keyboards to the mix for the album, bringing in Phil Ashley to lay down many of the keyboard work on the album along with Paul Stanley. Fans had mixed feelings about the keys on the album.

This album is all over the place for me. It features some of my favorite and least favorite KISS songs. It opens up with Crazy Crazy Nights, my favorite KISS song to hear live. There’s something empowering about singing this song along with thousands of fans and Paul Stanley. I also really love Reason To Live and Turn On The Night. Both of these power ballads sound amazing and Bruce Kulick’s solos are wonderful. Another favorite of mine is Good Girl Gone Bad. It’s the only Gene Simmons lead vocal track that I really like on this album. I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You and My Way round out my favorite tracks on this album.

The album suffers from what I consider to be lazy writing. Songs like No, No, No and Bang Bang You reek of lame lyrics. No, No, No does, however, feature some of Bruce Kulick’s most impressive playing and the obvious influence of Eddie Van Halen. In fact, the album has a number of songs that sound a lot like some of Van Halen’s tracks.

Ultimately Crazy Nights is an uneven album that features tracks that are amazing and just as many that are forgettable. It isn’t as consistent as Asylum but I do have to say that this is some of Bruce Kulick’s best work for the band. I also like how KISS added more ballads and that those songs proved to be some of the best on the album. It was a low key risky album in my opinion and it only partly worked.

I also have to add that I really like the cover of this album. The shattered glass effect reminds me of my favorite Paul Stanley guitar and the contrasting black and blue on the cover looks great. It’s probably my favorite no-makeup era cover overall.

Next month I’ll be taking a look at Hot In The Shade, the first KISS album that I ever owned. I think that my review of that album might be a bit of a shock for most folks considering the fact that it features the song that got me initially hooked on KISS…..and tons of filler.

Thanks for checking out my post. The Year Of KISS has been fun for me and I hope that you’ve enjoyed it as well.

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