The beginning of the Nineties was a very precarious time for American rock band Kiss. The original line-up had dispersed amongst much acrimony, the trademark make-up had gone, they had not had a top-ten album in America since “Dynasty” in 1979, and their concert pulling power had virtually fizzled out. To top it all, their charismatic drummer Eric Carr had been diagnosed with cancer and would soon succumb to the disease. Things were not looking too bright.
But the main duo of Gene Simmons on bass guitar and vocals, along with his erstwhile partner Paul Stanley (guitar and vocals) were still there, facing up to the facts that they had frittered away all critical respect during the previous decade on solo albums, some ill-advised attempts at breaking into acting, and generally not concentrating on the main bread and butter of their business.
After seven decidedly average albums it was time to knuckle down. Bruce Kulick on lead guitar, who had replaced the too awkward to deal with Ace Frehley (and the even more unpredictable Vinnie Vincent), proved himself to be one of America’s greatest and most underrated rock’n’roll guitarists, and prior to this album being recorded, Eric Singer, an old friend of the band, came in to take on the difficult job of replacing Eric Carr on the drum stool, the latter being too sick to continue.
Another left-field play was bringing back Bob Ezrin, the producer of their earlier smash hit albums, but also at the controls for the disastrous album “Music for the Elder” (1981), which upon release had made Kiss globally ridiculed for their pompous pretentions.
The first single off the “Revenge” album was a superb version of Russ Ballard’s song “God Gave Rock’n’Roll To You”, which featured in the movie sequel, “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”. The film was a smash hit amongst the youth of the time, giving Kiss much needed reclaimed creditability and the single rose to number four on the American Billboard. This was quickly followed by “Unholy”, a surprising collaboration between Simmons and Vincent. “God Gave Rock’n’Roll To You”, “Unholy” and “Domino” are still staples of the Kiss live show today while “Every time I Look At You” is just a good old fashioned rude rock song and all the better for it.
The songwriting on this album is pretty evenly shared between Simmons, Stanley, Vincent (enlisted by Simmons to help pen some tracks), Kulick and Ezrin, while the lead vocal duties are split between Simmons and Stanley.
Eric Carr makes his last contribution to Kiss music by singing a cappella the line …”To everyone he gave his song to sing”… in the song “God Gave Rock ‘n’Roll To You”. He also found the strength in his final days to play drums on the video that accompanied the single. The closing track on the album is titled “Carr Jam 1981”, a song he wrote soon after joining Kiss and in fact this whole album is dedicated to Eric Carr.
So after this album release, Kiss were on their way back on an upward spiral. There were more band splits to come of course, but the make-up came back and the shows just got bigger. Hey, it’s rock ‘n’roll.
Rating: 4 Stars
Take it Off
God Gave Rock‘n’Roll To You
Heart Of Chrome
Thou Shalt Not
Every Time I Look At You
I Just Wanna
Carr Jam 1981
Paul Stanley – guitar and vocals
Gene Simmonds – bass guitar and vocals
Bruce Kulick – lead guitar and backing vocals
Eric Singer – drums and backing vocals.