Me and my bro Rich were talking about Paul’s recent rather disparaging comments about Gene’s material in the 80’s. I can’t argue with his assertion that Gene was mailing it in here and there in terms of material and over all effort in the unmasked 80’s. It’s a pity Gene was so distracted after removing the facial facade because he simply contributed less tunes than Stanley with very few truly great tracks and certainly no workable singles …..but clunkers? The true measure of the quality of material is how it holds up today. Let’s see:
LICK IT UP – I can no fault with either the Starchild or Demon’s offerings on this mega rock opus that may be the best hard rock record of 1983, period.
ANIMALIZE – Some will roll there eyes here ‘cuz this album is so land-locked in the 80’s it’s hard to have any perspective on it that isn’t absurd but the only Gene cut here that really wears on me is “Lonely Is The Hunter” (even though it’s got the best guitar work on the record compliments of Bruce Kulick behind the scenes). I would say Paul’s “I’ve Had Enough” is a bit of a dog in on the LP also. “Burn Bitch Burn” may be a low point for Gene in terms of lyrics but I gotta say people, it rocks. Score: 1 to 1.
ASYLUM – Pretty cool album. but I’ve always hated “Trial By Fire” because it’s just so shitty, save the fun bridge which does makes one want to do the Demon head and tail wag a bit. “I’m Alive” is also a bit too much: we may enjoy it, but I would say it’s borderline at best. Score: 2 to 2.
CRAZY NIGHTS – Again, Gene’s output here is weak, but in terms of truly walking the plank, this is Paul’s baby and “My Way” and “Bang, Bang, You” are sub-par KISS cuts no matter how much gloss was added by Nevison. That said, they are over shadowed by the grim reality of Gene’s god-awful “No, No. No”….mercy. Score: Paul 4, Gene 3.
HOT IN THE SHADE – Welcome to the jungle people, it’s thick in here with KISS near hits n’ misses but the two pigs that really stand out to me today, as they did upon first listen, are “Cadillac Dreams” (Bruce, you we’re so right!) and desperate abomination that was “Read My Body”. The rest is survivable though the chorus of “Love You To Hate Me” and irksome but I’ll let it slide lol.. Score: Paul 5, Gene 4
SMASHES, THRASHES & HITS – Then of course we have the Stanley womanizers “Let’s Put The X In Sex” and “Rock Hard” but both tunes are catchy enough to escape banishment here I think. Since Gene contributed nothing here it’s hard to dock points. He was the only one of the two punching in at the office apparently.
In conclusion, sure Gene was AWOL and brought little to the table ‘unmasked’ that stands out today (save “Hell of High Water” and maybe “The Street Giveth” (Tommy Thayer take a bow)) but in the Demons wanderlust absence the Starchild birthed his own collection of 80’s muts. That said, I cut him slack and offer a tip of the hat because did what had to do to get us all through the 80s, though a tad darkly at times.