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Criss, Peter - 1982 Let Me Rock You

ARTIST: Criss, Peter
ALBUM: Let Me Rock You
LABEL: Casablanca
SERIAL: 6302 194
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1998, Mercury, 314 558 072-2


LINEUP: Peter Criss - vocals, drums * Steve Lukather, Bobby Messano, Steve Stevens, Michael Landau, Caleb Quaye, Phil Grande - guitars * John Lo Presti, Davey Faragher - bass * Michael Braun, Dennis Conway - drums * Jai Winding, James Howard, Jim Roberge, Ed Walsh - keyboards, synthesizers

TRACK LISTING: 01 Let It Go * 02 Tears * 03 Move On Over * 04 Jealous Guy * 05 Destiny * 06 Some Kinda Hurricane * 07 Let Me Rock You * 08 First Day In The Rain * 09 Feel Like Heaven * 10 Bad Boys


The first thing that springs to mind about Criss' third solo album is the dodgy cover. A disturbing close up of Criss' face which showed him in a less than heterosexual manner might have appealed to those of a certain orientation, but for Kiss fans it was probably a rude awakening after Criss left the band in 1980! The album itself was a marked improvement over his poor 1978 self titled effort and 1980's dull 'Out Of Control', showing more urgency in hard rock and AOR areas. Criss roped in outside songwriters such as Russ Ballard, Gene Simmons, Steve Stevens, Vinnie Vincent, Tommy and Davey Faragher to try and improve the songwriting. This ploy worked but did not increase sales.

The Songs
AOR heights are scaled (and not bettered) immediately through 'Let It Go', with a nice blend of keyboards and heavy riffing, but overshadowed by a brilliant hook and Criss' own superior vocals. If you're looking for an unrecognised AOR classic this is it. Vincent and Adam Mitchell contribute the well worked 'Tears', the albums lone single and another worthy piece of AOR, on the softer side it has to be said. Criss and producer Vinnie Poncia team up for the updated doo wop of 'Back In Town', which isn't as suspicious as it sounds, but hardly compulsive listening! Criss adds a cover of John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy', which as you'd expect is fairly dull and wiped out by the stunning melodic excellence of 'Destiny', another AOR cut to watch out for. Ballard chips in with the title track and 'Some Kinda' Hurricane', both great examples of Ballard's legendary songwriting prowess and handled superbly by the able Criss. 'First Day In The Rain' is a major non-event, a dreary ballad written by Stevens, but thankfully Simmons is on hand with the fiery 'Feel Like Heaven' which adds more hard rock credibility to the album. 'Bad Boys' opens in West Coast style but could be the Rolling Stones too, if you can imagine the two combined!

In Summary
An overlooked piece of vinyl which sunk upon release and was the last Criss album until 1994. During the intervening years Criss was fairly anonymous and it wasn't until the original Kiss lineup's reunion in 1996 that he was back in the limelight. Always a fine vocalist, his ability is demonstrated throughout 'Let Me Rock You', and it is a shame he wouldn't record again for the rest of the decade. This is well worth looking into for melodic rock enthusiasts.

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#1 | Eric on April 08 2009 13:31:06
This was never easy to find when it came out. Casablanca imploded in 1982 with the death of Bogart and I'm sure the record lost out because of it. Maybe Dave R. can shed some light on this? hmm!
#2 | reyno-roxx on April 08 2009 19:07:21
I think the problem with this album was indeed, as you point out Eric, Casablanca imploded and was bought out by PolyGram. The album was effectively dead in the water upon release. It was only issued in North America and continental Europe and available for a relatively short period in both markets, much to Criss' annoyance, and not promoted at all.
At least Criss got his way in the wake of the reunion in 1996, when he insisted both of his post Kiss Casablanca solo albums were finally released on CD, but, again, sadly only for a limited run it appears. This record is certainly the harder of the two to find on CD these days.
#3 | sabace on September 02 2010 14:07:45
as an unapologetic kiss fan from the 70 's . I have to say I have always had a soft spot for peter's vocals and actually like a lot of his solo stuff . this is a little harder edged than his norm but I find it enjoyable .
#4 | jefflynnefan on September 04 2010 00:52:32
Hey Sabace,

There is a great demo track from Dynasty that Peter sings that is up at youtube. Don't know why it wasn't included on that album because it's just as good as Dirty Livin' .
#5 | dangerzone on August 08 2012 01:54:13
I've been listening to the demos Criss released under the Peter Criss Alliance moniker with Stan Penridge in 1984 and I have to say it's prime AOR of the highest class. A shame they never got a proper deal.

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