Ranking The Non-KISS, KISS Albums

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2016-07-02_19.54.12Are you a KISS fan or are you a KISS fan?  Seems like an easy enough question.  But is it?  Once any band hits a certain threshold of popularity you have the casual fan and the diehard.  For those of the diehard ilk, you’d be hard pressed to find more options to latch your blind loyalty to than a band called KISSKISS has everything the super-fan is looking for.  Longevity.  Drama.  Talking points.  High heels and makeup.  A ton of music.  And many current and former members. With lots of members comes lots of music away from the band.  As a public service to KISS fans old and new I made an indisputable ranking of the non-KISS, KISS records.  Here’s my criteria.  I only included records released after the KISS member in question was in KISS.  And no compilation or live albums.

I GIVE UNTO THEE!  THE DEFINITIVE RANKING OF NON-KISS, KISS RECORDS!

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Eric Singer ProjectESP

Worried that people might think drummers are musicians Eric Singer recruited his c-level industry pals to record this unnecessary collection of songs you already know and undoubtedly prefer by the original artist.  0/10

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Peter Criss – One For All

After hearing this, one can only come to one conclusion.  2007 Peter Criss is deaf and surrounded by yes men afraid the PC gravy train will end.  In their own special way, Pete and Ace have always misinterpreted positive feedback. Focusing on blind fandom may have actually helped Peter when recording this record.  Because it makes his worst work sound decent.  As much shit as Pete has gotten for his prior albums, this album is so bad it highlights how much credit should be given to the folks who he worked with on his prior non-KISS records.  I heard somewhere he recorded this in his house.  It sounds like it.  0/10

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Peter Criss – Let Me Rock You

Pete stepped out of the shower just in time to shoot the cover of this record.  He should be given some credit for the ‘dude with an earring in his right ear’ representation.  That’s somewhat progressive for the time.  He should be given zero credit for the music.  Partially because he didn’t write any of it.  And more for how bad this record is.  I imagine in the mid 80’s Pete had to be jealous of Don Henley.  Another raspy-voiced drummer from a 70’s band going solo.  He just sucked more than Henley.  Opening track “Let It Go” and the Gene Simmons song “Feel Like Heaven” are high points.  Avoid Pete butchering the John Lennon song “Jealous Guy” at all costs.  2/10

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Vinnie Vincent – Speedball Jam

I think this is still on YouTube.  It’s basically an hour long guitar solo.  Have fun.  2/10

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Frehley’s Comet – Second Sighting

For some reason, it was decided to name the band Frehley’s Comet for the follow up to Ace‘s first solo record post-KISS of the same name.  Not sure who thought that was a good idea.  I’m guessing their names rhyme with Hod Towarth and Ron Jegan.    Making it a band only augments John Regan and Tod Howarth‘s place in KISStory and nobody needs that.  This is basically a Tod Howarth solo record with Ace as a special guest.  Anton Fig was out by this point.  I’m guessing the steady paycheck at Letterman looked pretty good anytime a wasted Ace banged on his hotel door at 3 am.  In his place is Jamie Oldaker.  I think he played with Clapton?  Check out the Live video they released prior to this record.  Jamie swaps the drum parts for “Cold Gin” and “Shock Me” which tells you all you need to know about his commitment to the ‘band’.  This record sucks.  2/10

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Ace Frehley – Origins Vol. 1

In 1978 all four members of KISS released solo albums.  Quite possibly the last time the world rotated around the sun with a motivated Ace Frehley.  Unfortunately his cover of the Russ Ballard song “New York Groove” became a hit.  Unfortunate as it cemented a couple of delusions he was more than happy to embrace.  For one, KISS needed him more than he needed them.  And the other being he could just cover other people’s songs instead of writing new music.  Origins Vol. 1 is Ace at his tiredest.  Nothing on here is worthy of a second listen.  It’s classic Ace.  Lazy presumptive abuse of his fan base.  Social media got erect of news that Paul Stanley appeared on a track.  Even with that, only a deaf narcissist would give this record a second play.    2/10

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White Tiger- S/T

I have given this record too many chances.  I really enjoyed Mark St. John‘s paying on Animalize.  The nicest thing I can say about it is that it’s super boring.  If you like this record you’re more forgiving than me.  3/10

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Ace Frehley – Anomaly

Fans who purchased this at Best Buy got a special CD package that could be turned into a pyramid.  Which for anyone who read Wendy Moore‘s book had a certain masturbatory meaning.  The record is OK.  Of course, it has a cover.   “Fox On The Run”.   And one of the most intellectually insulting songs I’ve ever heard with the track “Little Below The Angels” where for some reason a mid-sixties Ace feels the need to describe what an angel looks like in the voice of a person speaking to a two-year-old.  Just creepy.  “Outer Space” is great.  The aforementioned “Fox on the Run” is OK.  “Genghis Khan” is bad.  The rest is boring.  It sounds like it was never properly mastered.   3/10

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Ace Frehley – Space Invader

Marginally better than Anomaly.  4/10

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Gene Simmons – Asshole

I was pretty excited to hear this record.  Then I did.  Then I was excited to alphabetically slot it into my CD collection and never listen to it again.  In retrospect, it is everything you should expect from a Gene solo record.  Bloated,  disjointed,  directionless and filled with any semi-famous person he could dupe into appearing on it.  That said the biggest problem is the songs suck.  “Sweet Dirty Love” and “Black Tongue” ain’t bad.  4/10

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Peter Criss – Out Of Control

I like this record.  Peter was the first out of KISS.  The first to Unmask.  And first to release a solo album.  And anyone who heard his 78′ Solo record realized Pete‘s heart was in a music much different that KISS.  Considering that he delivered a pretty solid soft-rock record that I think may have garnered more attention were it not for KISS‘ reputation in the industry at the time.  And while his 78’ record may have felt like a betrayal to some of his fans you couldn’t make the same claim with this album.  It may not be a hard rock classic but for what it is it’s solid.  5/10

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Vinnie Vincent – Box Set

OK, I know.  Odd’s are this thing doesn’t actually exist outside of a handful of empty prototype boxes.  But the myth of the Vinnie Vincent Boxset alone is better than every record so far.  5/10

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Vinnie Vincent – Euphoria

This was supposed to be a teaser for a full-length album called Guitarmaegeddon that never materialized.  Officially kicking off the “What the hell is going on with Vinnie” procession.  This is a poorly recorded collection of pretty good songs.  Robert Fleischman (HE WAS IN JOURNEY!) provided vocals giving fans of the first VV record something to tug their pink dicks about.   5/10

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Bruce Kulick – AudioDog/Transformer/BK3

After hearing Revenge and most of what Bruce has recorded since I’m convinced he was hog tied creatively by Gene and Paul in his first few years with KISS.  While solid, his playing prior to Revenge was hardly anything to inspire someone to pick up the guitar.  But he was given more freedom on Revenge and he hasn’t looked back.  I’m lumping these three records together because I find it hard to separate them.  Bruce ain’t much of a singer but these records feature some really adventurous music and great guitar playing that makes you wonder what the hell was going on when they recorded Crazy NightsNick Simmons sings lead on a track on BK3 which only serves to perpetuate the myth that Nick Simmons can sing.  Fans of 80’s KISS should search these out.  6/10

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Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet

It may seem typical for a band to take 5 years or more to release a record today.  But in 1987, Ace Frehley fans had gone from pre-puberty to trimming the hair around their shaft to make their dicks look longer.  He whittled away his post-KISS time and money to come out with this?  This record is often looked at as a pinnacle of post-KISS awesomeness.  But I know an absolute zero number of people who aren’t KISS fans who like this record.  I guess it’s not bad.  But it only ranks high if you grade on a curve.  By itself, it’s not a great record.  “Dolls” is so creepy you can only forgive Ace if you focus on how bad it is.  And who invited Tod Howarth to the party?   Still, there is some life to Ace‘s playing and as dumb as the lyrics to “Rock Soldiers” are, when you hear it live it’s hard to not sing along.  The release of this record would mark the first time Ace referenced his 78′ solo record as to what he was going for with this album.  Something he has done with every record since.  6/10

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Criss – Cat #1

By the early 90’s Peter was hardly a hot commodity.  So much so the only record deal he could get was with some label called Tony Nicole Tony records.  Yet he managed to surround himself with some pretty solid no-name musicians for this record.  This would be the last time Pete would venture into anything resembling hard rock.  And there is some solid material here.  “Bad Reputation”, “Blue Moon Over Brooklyn”, “Show Me”, “Bad People Burn In Hell” and “Good Times” are fun songs.  And Peter‘s voice has held up well and sounds great here.  6/10

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Ace Frehley – Trouble Walkin’

With human dog whistle Tod Howarth out the picture Richie Scarlet was brought back into the world of Ace Frehley for Trouble Walking which outside his 78′ masterpiece is Ace‘s best work.  Sure it still has the clunkers “Back To School” and “Five Card Stud” but it also has “2 Young 2 Die” which may be the hardest song ever recorded to not crank up and drive too fast when listening to.  The title track is great as well.  Ace seemed to have his shit together.  Which as it turns out is saying something as he wouldn’t release another solo album for 20 years.  7/10

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Paul Stanley – Live To Win

I love this record.  Great songs with great hooks.  Paul went for a little more polish than a classic KISS record and it was the right thing to do.  When it comes to doing a solo album the hardest thing for a guy in Paul‘s position to do is not sound like the band they are in.  It may not have sat well with some of the arm crossing diehards, but I think this record delivered.  And the subsequent tour should have made the KISS Army realize life without KISS may have it’s perks.  South Park hilariously used the title track in a World Of Warcraft episode.  Probably the first and last sign that someone in KISS may have a sense of humor.  Which made me wonder if Paul got the joke.  I hope one day Paul will be revered for his talent as a songwriter.  7/10

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Union – The Blue Room

Bruce Kulick teamed up with Motley Crue punching bag John Corabi to form the band Union.  Not as good as their debut record but it’s good.  Then again I could listen to John Corabi sing Gene‘s book Me, Inc.   7/10

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Vinnie Vincent Invasion – All Systems Go

VVI‘s second release featured the vocals of newcomer and future star Mark Slaughter who took over vocal duties just in time to lip sync the band’s first ever music video “Boyz Are Gonna Rock”.  This record has a lot a great material along with some unnecessary filler.  Sadly it would be the band’s swan song as the three members not named Vinnie had a secret meeting behind the back of one earth’s most notorious paranoids.  “Ashes to Ashes”, “Dirty Rhythm”, “Let Freedom Rock” and “That Time Of Year” are 80’s metal at it’s best.  8/10

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Union – S/T

KISS officially kicked Bruce Kulick to curb a few weeks before Motley did the same to John Corabi.  And they formed a perfect Union.  This record is amazing.  It features both Bruce and Corabi in top form.  Heavy rock at it’s best.  The result of their Union is an inspired record filled with great songs.  If you enjoyed Motley‘s self-titled record with Corabi you need to hear this.  “Old Man Wise”, “Pain Behind The Eyes” and “Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore)” are songs good enough to make you reconsider your career path.  Even the album’s acoustic closer “Robin’s Song” will make you feel regret about something you did.  9/10

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Vinnie Vincent Invasion – S/T

I don’t think anyone realized it at the time but post-KISS Vinnie Vincent had something to prove.  The opening track erupts like the ejaculation of a virgin male on his wedding night.  There are signs of the Vinnie who wrote 4/5’s of Lick It Up.  But it’s encased in an aural assault of THE most over the top guitar pyrotechnics album of the 80’s.  And as much as it’s a perfectly compressed time capsule of all things 80’s metal, it holds up great.  Robert Fleischman (HE WAS IN JOURNEY!) fucking KILLS on this record.  Anytime I played “Shoot You Full Of Love” too loud windows broke on a neighboring Masonic Lodge.  In KISS, Vinnie was like a neutered wolf.  Which was good for KISS.  But Vinnie was a wolf that needed to howl.  If so many people weren’t focused on hating Vinnie for reasons that have nothing to do with them they could realize just how amazing this record is.  Fans of the 80’s era metal should be required to write an essay on this record.  It should be required listening at rock n roll fantasy camps.  Instead of dragging your kid to see whatever you want to call current KISS you should be duct taping a pair of headphones to their head and making them listen to “Boyz Are Gonna Rock”.  The best songs are all of them.  Gun to head the only weak spot I find is “Back On The Streets”.  The only song to feature Vinnie on lead vocals.  This song is sluggish and surprisingly covered by many artists.  Including Ace Frehley.  So while I may press skip on track 7 the rest fills dicks with blood.  “Invasion” may be the best album closer of the era.  10/10

There you have it.  The perfect ranking of all the records of current and former members of KISS released after being in KISS.  With that, I’d like to say Merry KISSMas in July.  Send your hate mail to bakko@decibelgeek.com or just leave a comment.

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11 thoughts on “Ranking The Non-KISS, KISS Albums”

  1. I think Paul Stanley’s album was better than Vinnie and a little better than Bruce’s. I’ve seen him on DVD doing the album, he looks like he’s having a lot of fun

  2. Man I was so ready to hate on this list but I’m really glad someone else appreciates the greatness of Vinnie’s Invasion albums! If you haven’t heard them, there’s a couple great unreleased Vinnie tracks out there with Robert on vocals. Go check out a song called “Truth” and imagine how awesome it would sound if properly mixed/mastered!

  3. Haha well said about first Frehley’s Comet album. I remember reading about the recording process for it in tender little morsels from Circus and Hit Parader and shuddered with anticipation waiting for it. I skipped school the day it came out and waited in front of my local record store to be the first to get it. Maybe it was my 17 year old mind hoping it would be a clone of his 70’s solo record but with each track I remember being more horrified at what I was hearing. To this day only Fractured Too still makes it for me.

  4. Michael Wilson

    I can agree with the rankings here fur the most-part. However, that White Tiger album kicks ass over any of these except the two Vinnie albums. I like those two Union albums, but the second is better than the first. And… hold the freaking phone bro! The song Words Are Not Enough makes Ace’s mini-live album worth ranking here. I might rank it one notch higher than that phantom Vinnie box set.

  5. Sorry (not too much), but you’re an ignorant about music. Just by looking at how you rated Anomaly, is enough to notice you don’t understand about vibe, artistry or the elements that have to do with the essence of music; you don’t seem to know how to feel the music, just “think” it. BTW, Live to Win sucks in almost every aspect, and look where you put it in the list.
    I know music is very subjective, but you seem to be astray, really.

  6. Finally an honest assessment of Ace’s solo stuff post ’78. He was never as good on his own and his last three sucked large. Beyond terrible with one or two exceptions song wise. On the other hand you’ve piqued my curiosity about the Union albums. Nice work.

  7. Michael Wilson

    @Arturo M … I really want to know what there is to “feel” about any of Ace’s albums in recent years. I give him a lot of leeway simply because he’s Ace, but he hasn’t made an album I’ve wanted to listen to more than twice since Trouble Walkin’.

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