“When I was seventeen, found out just what it means
If you can get it free, it just ain’t worth a damn
When I heard the preacher say, don’t throw your life away
I got that message, and I wrote it on the wall”
– “Cadillac Dreams”
Continuing the KISSmas in July Retro-active articles, we take a look back at 1989’s Hot In The Shade album and ask the question, can you “Read My Body” (not really, but it sounded cool)?
Hot in the Shade is the 1989 album for KISS. It is the first KISS full studio album since 1981’s Music from “The Elder” to feature lead vocals from someone other than Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons, with drummer Eric Carr singing lead on “Little Caesar“. It is also the final KISS album to feature Eric in its entirety before his tragic passing in November 1991.
Fans and critics are divided over the album. Our posters on Facebook had the following diverse comments to say about the record:
“It’s the album that got me into KISS. “Hide Your Heart” was the song that caught the attention of my young heart as a kid LOL. Love this whole album.“
“One of the worst album covers from the KISS catalog. Musically speaking, it’s pretty forgettable, with exception of the singles they released from it.“
“Had Ace returned at that time and KISS would have taken a bit more time on this record, take out the “filler” on HITS and Trouble Walking and mix the two albums, you would have had a killer record…“
Paul Stanley described the album as being a return to “vintage” KISS and generally critics were more forgiving of this album than some other releases by the band in the 1980’s.
Slide guitar opens up the album and ushers in the riffy “Rise To It“, which was one of the singles. Musically, it has KISS stamped through it. Paul sings his heart out and we’re off to the races.
Other highlights for me include “Hide Your Heart“, “Forever“, “King Of Hearts” and “You Love Me To Hate You“. The songs are strong, regardless of whether they were from demos or not. It is very much a summer album and one which I absolutely love way more than earlier releases.
Hot In The Shade was certified Gold on December 20, 1989, by the RIAA. The album has sold over 800,000 copies since its release, reaching only gold status. Not what KISS would have expected, but times were changing and sales were not what they once were.
Its most successful single, “Forever” reached #8 on the Billboard charts, the band’s highest-charting single in the US since “Beth“, 13 years earlier.
Love it or hate it, the album has great moments and you can’t fault Bruce Kulick‘s guitar work or Eric Carr‘s powerful drumming.