Or, 1537 Tries To Like KISS Again: Part Trois
Street hustler comes up to me one day
And I’m walkin’ down the street minding my own business
And he looks me up and he looks me down
And he says, “Hey man, what be this?” and “What be that?”
I just looked at him and kinda laughed
And said, “Hey man, I am cool; I am the breeze.”
I was in the mood for something good and uncomplicated this evening and there I was flicking through The Racks of Doom (TRoD) in the front room and I suddenly knew just what I wanted. So here I am reviewing a quarter of my Kiss collection for you, Lick It Up dudes!
Way back in the misty mists of time Gary Moore Dirty Fingers was playing on a crappy old tape machine before school as I asked my cool mate Colin what Kiss were like. His reply was pretty much along the lines of ‘looked great but the music wasn’t heavy enough’, but then he said that Lick It Up was really great. A fortnight later I scraped together enough cash to mail order it from S.T Records along with Night Songs and Georgia Satellites: I got Kissed for the first time.
I liked Lick It Up then and I like it now; there was a middle period when I found the lyrics just made me wince too much, but I can (mostly) deal with it now. I’ve heard the title track and ‘All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose’ a fair few times, as they made the cut for my iPod but it has been a good few years since I had aired this LP properly. From my very limited Kiss experience it is the heaviest I’ve heard them play, consistently so too. The cocoa tin drums of the earlier LPs had definitely gone by 1983* and there was an admirably frenzied, restless sound around the likes of ‘Young And Wasted’ and ‘Exciter’.
I come at Lick It Up from a bit of a different angle than most – sheer bull-headed ignorance about the band’s past. I really rather like the disco-rap stylings that break through hither and yon and I’ve always just loved Vinnie Vincent’s playing, so if the make-up was getting in their way then I was happy to see it gone. Plus I really like the band’s fluffy poodle hair on the front cover, it all went a bit Brian May out there in ’83.
Songs? 10 of them, nine of them good. I simply cannot listen to the appalling chick beating song ‘Dance All Over Your Face’, Gene why? this was 1983, not 1883. I have a fantasy whereby L7 do to it what they did to G’N’R’s ‘Used To Love her’ covering it and just flipping the genders around, thereby lancing the boil once and for all^.
Where was I? songs = good. The jerky, exciting ‘Exciter’ is great (complete with uncredited guitar solo by Rick Derringer) and following it up with the I’m-so-mean ‘Not For the Innocent’ gives Lick It Up a great one-two opening punch. Some days the slower ‘Not For The Innocent’ was my favourite track here, anything that makes you feel dangerous, sexy and mean when you’re a pimply bucket of testosterone and insecurity has to be treasured.
The title track ludicrous though it is, is just perfect catchy rock and I love the whole seize-the-day carpe diem thing it has going down. ‘Don’t need to wait for an invitation / You gotta live like you’re on vacation’ – see? it’s not about oral pleasures at all. Honest. Now let’s see someone belt out an earnest piano only version for a mobile phone advert and we’ll know that the end times are here.
Now here’s a video that needs a parental warning of some sort. Paul Stanley is wearing the girliest boots this side of your local branch of GirlzBootz ‘R’ Us and is Gene going slack-jawed at the mouth on purpose, or is he having a stroke? looking at the pitifully uncoordinated way he’s moving I’m going for the latter. Also, I appreciate we’re in a bargain budget apocalypse scenario here but how come Vinnie Vincent is twice as feminine as any of the women on set? or is that just me?
Anyhoo, honourable Lick It Up mentions go out to ‘Young and Wasted’ and the spiteful near-ballad ‘A Million To One’ which I really like, ‘A million to one / There’s someone better than me’^^. The remaining honours go to the dynamic duo of ‘Fits Like A Glove’ and ‘All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose’. The former is a turbocharged ode to getting one’s nut and the latter is just frankly bonkers rap/rock/disco homage to just how damn cool Kiss say they are; of course it is – just like the other Kiss bits I seem to like best it’s entertaining pantomime nonsense.
Lick It Up turned the oil tanker of Kiss’ fortunes around, hitting #24 in the US charts and a quite frankly surprising #7 in the UK. This is an LP that I don’t play as often as I should do, it’s a really good solid hard rocker and anything that makes you feel dangerous, sexy and mean when you’re a 46 year old bucket of testosterone and insecurity has to be treasured. Oh and apparently they didn’t wear make-up anymore, or something, which was a big deal back then.
*I have never heard Creatures Of The Night (I will pick it up the next time I see it in the wild) so I don’t know to what extent this was a continuation, or a fresh jaunt into heavier waters.
^I miss L7, they were such an amazingly cool kickass band:
^^at loving maybe, at singing I’d offer Evens.