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Kiss - 1992 Revenge

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ALBUM: Revenge
LABEL: Mercury
SERIAL: P2-48037
YEAR: 1992
CD REISSUE: Reissue List


LINEUP: Paul Stanley - vocals, guitar * Gene Simmons - vocals, bass * Bruce Kulick - guitar * Eric Singer - drums * Eric Carr - vocals (God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II)

Additional Musicians: Dick Wagner - guitar solo (09) * Kevin Valentine - drums (02)

TRACK LISTING: 01 Unholy * 02 Take It Off * 03 Tough Love * 04 Spit * 05 God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II * 06 Domino * 07 Heart Of Chrome * 08 Thou Shalt Not * 09 Every Time I Look At You * 10 Paralyzed * 11 I Just Wanna * 12 Carr Jam 1981



I remember how disappointed I was upon 1989's 'Hot In The Shade's first listening. Lacking in quality songs and production, only 'Forever' and a couple more tracks, namely, 'Rise To It' and 'Silver Spoon' appealed to me. The rest.. 'Read My Body' and 'Cadillac Dreams' may be the worst songs in the entire Kiss catalogue. However, the 1990 HITS tour was a success with the band returning to vintage material and embracing its past with pride. Fan-favorite drummer Eric Carr's illness that led to his untimely death on November 24th (the very same day Freddie Mercury also passed away) was sadly the most relevant fact of 1991. During that year, the band had recorded a version of a 1973's Argent classic renamed 'God Gave Rock and Roll to You II' for the 'Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey' OST with Eric Singer on drums and Eric Carr providing vocals for what would be his last studio contribution. Singer recorded the drum tracks for 'Revenge' in mid 1991 before becoming a permanent member by the end of that year. 'Revenge' seemed to be the right title for the album finally released in May 1992. An album I highly praised upon its release due to its heaviness and impact. My current view is slightly different after 25 years. Paul Stanley stated in a 1985 Faces magazine interview that 'You can't create spontaneity; it's not a contrived thing'. And I think that, besides the tragic circumstances and all the pressure Kiss (Stanley & Simmons) were under in the early nineties - when 'arena rock' became unpopular, they took themselves too seriously on 'Revenge', a clenched-teeth album, maybe too much for its own good. Simmons in particular was very self-deprecating around this time, even bashing the whole Kiss' eighties output, a view I do not share at all. Surveys conducted by Kiss' management at the time (Oh, dear!) showed fans wanted more presence and singles from Simmons.

The Songs
First sonic impressions are Bob Ezrin's stellar production and Eric Singer's superb drumming -the driving force behind 'Revenge', albeit in a more subtle way than Carr's showcase on 1982's 'Creatures Of The Night'. Kulick's contribution is also remarkable, not surprisingly as I consider he had consistently delivered since 1985. I've read funny statements on the subject such as 'he abandoned his firefly-fart-like tone in favor of a rougher edge'. Opener 'Unholy' was the first Simmons single since 1982. An ominous, menacing tune co-written by the Demon and Vinnie Vincent that includes a devilish tritone as main riff and a brilliant guitar solo. The Who-influenced 'Take It Off' is Stanley's first contribution. A good catchy rocker inspired by strippers where the first cracks show up in the form of excessively juvenile lyrics and slightly forced vocals. 'Tough Love', including nods to Led Zeppelin's 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' sounds like it was modelled after the superior 'Heart Of Chrome'. Both sung by Stanley and reminiscent to my ears of COTN's 'Keep Me Comin', they share cool riffing, the latter (the second Vincent co-writing) is a more lively affair with Kulick's monster sounding lead and the unforgettable line 'You taped our sexy conversations and you sold 'em to the BBC', way ahead of its time and very suitable for the current social-media-dominated times. Simmons' Zeppelinesque 'Spit' smells like filler with a heavy blues riff, some of the vocals shared by Stanley and pieces of the 'Star Spangled Banner' as part of the guitar solo. Seems like too much for me, I'd rather listen to 'Asylum's 'Radar For Love' instead regarding Kiss' Zeppelin influences. On the other hand, 'God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II' is stunning. An 'All The Young Dudes' relative in melody, the best I can say is this is not better nor worst than Argent's original, this truly sounds like a Kiss original, something that had already happened on previous albums' covers (e.g. '2,000 Man' and 'Is That You?'). I can also hear Queen's overtones in Kulick's guitar and the impassioned a cappella break - an emotional peak as Carr's heavenly vocals can be clearly heard.

'Domino' is a Simmons' rewriting of Black 'N Blue's 'Nasty Nasty'. The main riff falls into AC/DC's territory and the highlights are Kulick's finger-picked intro, his warm fat tone and a clever solo within a nice rocker. 'Thou Shalt Not' is a sibling in lyrics to the aforementioned 'Cadillac Dreams', and luckily a far better song, almost metal, Simmons' double tracked vocals very dark and prominent. However, the problem is again the forced heaviness. The Beth-like acoustic-driven ballad 'Every Time I Look At You' features a string quartet in full Ezrin's fashion and Stanley's imposed raspy vocals. Worthy and beautiful despite some criticism about its similarities to Peter Criss' signature song. Just listen to the slightly more stripped version on MTV Unplugged to confirm its beauties. 'Paralyzed' is a subtly funk-driven spirited rocker by Simmons, not spectacular but a welcomed breeze of fresh air. The last Vinnie Vincent's co-writing credit is 'I Just Wanna', tailor-made for live shows. This is a 'Bony Moronie/Summertime Blues' inspired three chord song aimed at hit status with Stanley's enticing intro, infectious choruses and sweet guitar harmonies, one of Revenge's high points for sure. The last song is the instrumental tribute 'Carr Jam 1981', taken from Carr/Frehley's demo that turned into the Frehley's Comet 'Breakout' song released in 1987. A perfect showcase of the great drummer's skills and a good Kulick overdubbed performance. However, legal and copyright issues I may not be aware of aside, it would have been nice to listen to Frehley's original guitar track as well.

In Summary
'Revenge' is frequently hailed as Kiss' best unmasked-era album. To me, that award goes to 'Lick It Up'. Although a vast improvement over the lame 'Hot In The Shade', this is on par with Kiss' 80's output, no more. My main criticisms are the forced heaviness, a certain lack of stronger melodies and the band taking themselves too seriously. 'Revenge' debuted at #6 on the Billboard charts but struggled to attain Gold status. Undeniable is the fact that this was a really strong lineup that I had the pleasure of seeing live twice. Eric Singer's performance in particular was amazing. The band played to mostly half-empty arenas during the Revenge tour and Simmons/Stanley tried to harden their sound even more for the ill-fated 'Carnival Of Souls'. 1995's 'MTV Unplugged' was the preamble to the Reunion Tour with the original lineup.

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#1 | gdazegod on August 29 2017 07:21:28
Kiss - 1992 Unholy
YouTube Video:

Kiss - 1992 Domino
YouTube Video:
#2 | dangerzone on August 29 2017 14:18:51
I could never bring myself to review this one. Like Hot in the Shade, it's never appealed to me. Dave used the term 'forced' and that's exactly what it is. I probably haven't listened to this in 20 years and I'm sure that won't change. I know Kiss was trying to toughen up again and to back to a 70s style direction, but it fell flat to my ears.
#3 | spawn71 on September 01 2017 19:29:00
Well, not a masterpiece for sure, but a solid disc, surely their best from the 90's. I appreciate especially the great performance of Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick, two real musicians, not two masked clowns for live shows. And I still remember very well that almost every magazine saluted the return to form for Kiss back in the day, when this one was originally released.
#4 | Explorer on September 01 2017 22:34:09
I for one think that Ezrin and KISS are a nigh on perfect fit for each other and this album along with his other productions jobs on Destroyer and The Elder make for some of the bands best work, and I also think that the involvement of one V.Cusano on the writing side for Revenge helped things too.
#5 | dtabachn on September 01 2017 23:06:57
I agree, Ezrin's production was superb. I believe Paul Stanley is currently not speaking to Ezrin because of some kind of misunderstanding between them. Also agree with Singer and Kulick being the stars on Revenge, two fantastic underrated musicians. And Vincent has always been a great songwriter. What a pity his current personal issues. As I said in the review, I loved Revenge in 1992. These days, there are some songs I tend to skip when I listen to it.
#6 | Explorer on September 02 2017 00:34:59
As an aside Vinnie has finally broken his long silence today with a hand written letter to fans and is (apparently) appearing at a KISS expo in January of next year.
#7 | reyno-roxx on September 02 2017 10:15:15
A bit of a coincidence with the imminent arrival of the Warrior CD. Get that one while you can!
#8 | gdazegod on September 02 2017 11:19:36
You can read the letter on our Twitter Feed. Refer left-side panel.
#9 | Explorer on September 03 2017 14:40:47
I think the Warrior CD coming out now is just that, a coincidence.I've seen some speculation on the `net about Vinnie`s reappearance being linked with the forthcoming release. I know Hirsh wouldn't ever get involved with Vinnie again after his many troubles with him, and as for the other New England boys, I don't think so. I spoke with Gary Shea a little while back when he told me about the Warrior CD coming out, but he hadn't heard from Vinnie for over 20 years.
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