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Culling the Herd

Culling The Herd: KISS – Hot In The Shade

Although we typically stick to double albums when trying to breakdown the strong points of overly long releases, I’m here to present the same idea for a stand-alone album. KISS are a band where a lot of peoples’ opinions on them are from a passionate angle. It’s no secret that I’m one that defends them to the end of the Earth, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t dropped some hot garbage. Hot In The Shade took literal years for me to decide what I thought of the album overall. That’s embarrassing on my part because the answer is as simple as “it’s pretty good, but it’s too fucking long.” 

Some legend-tier tracks got overlooked, a few obvious classics, some killer but kind of filler songs, and some straight-up snooze-tunes. So today, I’m here to guide you through what’s worth hearing. Although I seldom skip songs when playing an album, I won’t pretend I don’t just sit through certain ones awaiting the next track. So instead of fifteen KISS tunes clocking in around the hour mark, here are nine KISS tunes coming in between thirty-five and forty minutes.

1) Rise To It

I’m going to spoil it for you now that Hot In The Shade has an immaculate start. This is the opener, starting with a simple acoustic lick before breaking into glam metal excellence, much like Cinderella’s “Bad Seamstress Blues / Fallin Apart At The Seems.” Bruce Kulick’s solo, Paul Stanley’s energetic build, and the gang-chorus are fantastic. This song never got the credit it truly deserved.

2) Betrayed

As I stated, Hot In The Shade begins on a great note, and track two follows suit. One of the only Gene Simmons fronted songs to make the list absolutely smokes, and that’s heavily due to his powerful vocal outbursts. I also can’t deny the steady melodies that balance it out being spot on.

3) Hide Your Heart

Our first obvious classic is one that any fan should hear at least once, even those silly folk who only listen to the ’70s albums. This is a tale based around some lovers involved with the wrong people at the wrong time, and it’s told excellently. Paul’s clean delivery and the wailing leads are all you need to enjoy this properly. Tenser breaks are used flawlessly, especially during the quieter bridge before Eric Carr’s drum blasts kick in. Also, I highly recommend hearing Ace Frehley’s version of this if you haven’t.

4) Love’s A Slap In The Face

Here lies the only other Gene-lead song to make the list, and I’ll admit that this one is killer but also kind of filler. No way there was much thought that went in, but the hooks are some of the sharpest, and that chorus is loads of fun.

5) Forever

This should be obvious, as it’s one of the biggest power ballads of its time and easily one of KISS’s biggest hits. Built on acoustic rhythms, Paul Stanley casts touching feelings of unconditional love and contempt with his signature high notes and flawless execution. The heavier rhythms add a lot of oomph to it, and that solo on the acoustic guitar is one of my favorites ever written. I’m certain that if you actually took the time to read this article that you’ve heard this. But if somehow I’m wrong, give it a listen.

6) Silver Spoon

I couldn’t have asked for a better immediate follow-up to “Forever,” because this is an overlooked banger from end-to-end. The softer but firm lick that leads us in and retains its strength is one of the high points, and oddly enough, the lyrics are pretty solid too. Like many of these, the chorus is the hookiest part, but I truly love this entire tune.

7) King Of Hearts

Here lies one of the oddballs, as I don’t think it fits that well with the other songs. That said, there are tastier flavors to be had. Substance wasn’t a strong feature, but if you can make something like that stand out without feeling too obvious, I’m going to be at least a little impressed.

8) You Love Me To Hate You

My God, it pains to know that I’m probably one of like, ten fans that love this song. I chalk all of that up to the awkward build, but holy hell do those progressions ever slap! The chanting inclines are borderline anthemic, and the way they drop to a whinier finish worked way better than it had any business doing. I may be alone here, but I love every bit of this.

9) Little Caesar

Alright, you caught me. I only really added this one because it’s Eric Carr’s only song, besides that re-recording of “Beth.” And though it may not be that special, it offered a fresh template, and for that, I think it’s worth hearing. I considered including “Boomerang” in its place due to the fact that it’s a full-on speed metal tune, but if I’m honest with myself, it sucks. Just like the other five songs that didn’t get mentioned.

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