B O X S E T S and S I N G L E S

The Originals Kiss -The Originals (Casablanca) 1976

RECORD 1: Kiss
RECORD 2: Hotter than Hell
RECORD 3: Dressed to Kill

Essentially the first Kiss "box set" in that The Originals was a repackaging of the first three Kiss albums. The cover was designed by Dennis Woloch who came up with the idea for the nuclear explosion. The photo was taken of a 1950s Nevada atomic test explosion. The originals was originally released in North American on July 21, 1976 in vinyl and 8-track formats. (The Japanese version was released on March 25, 1977, some eight months after the release of the North American versions in conjunction with KISS' "Sneak Attack" tour of Japan.) It was a basically a repackaging of the first three studio albums released in high hopes of boosting sales of the band's back catalog at a time when "Destroyer" had become the first studio album to be certified Gold by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). It is one of the most sought after Kiss collectibles in their catalog, along with the nearly impossible to find Japanese only release "The Orginals II". There were two printings in the US with the "Second Printing" being released in May 1977. The cover of the package would be altered to state "Second Printing" in the top right corner.

The cover of the album is a gatefold, and the three records are housed in paper sleeves featuring the artwork of the respective album that they contain. Included in this set was a 16 page booklet, perforated trading cards and a Kiss Army sticker. I own the initial vinyl printing of this set. The vinyls are all in excellent condition as are the paper sleeves. Unfortunately the vinyl copy I currently own is missing all of these extras, bring the value down. Most copies of "The Originals" I have seen have considerable ring-wear to the cover, probably due to the fact that three records were housed in the cover. My copy has the cover in relatively good shape, although the spine is a bit worn. Copies in good shape without the extras sell for around $20 and up on most auction sites. With all the inserts, expect to pay around $30. The Japanese version, which included an extra booklet written in Japanese, and also had an OBI strip sells upward of $100 or more. White label promos, for some stupid reason, sell for even more. The Japanese "The Originals II" sells for around $200.

I Was MAde For Lovin' You Kiss - I Was Made For Lovin' You (Mercury) 1993

1. "I Was Made For Lovin' You" -live (4:31)
2. "I Was Made For Lovin' You" (4:30)
3. "I Love It Loud" -live (3:40)
4. "Partners in Crime" (3:48)

A German import single that I found for a couple of bucks at a used store. Doesn't really contain anything that I don't already have but it's a nice collector's disc. Especially dig the German version of the logo with the backwards zz's. Apparently the German government felt the lightning bolt ss's could be confused for nazi symbols, so the band was forced to change the logo in order to sell their cds there.

We Are One Kiss - We Are One (Mercury) 1998

1. "We Are One" (Edit) (3:45)
2. "We Are One" (4:41)
3. "Psycho Circus" (5:30)
4. "Psycho Circus" (Video)

Collector's single with the complete "Psycho Circus" video for PC. Not sure this one was ever released in the U.S. I've never seen it, so I assume it was not.

Kiss - Psycho Circus [promo single] (Mercury) 1998

1. "Psycho Circus" (5:30)
2. "In Your Face" (3:35)

A promotional single that came as a bonus with the "Psycho Circus" 3-D video that I also own. What makes this single essential is the unreleased track "In Your Face" written by Gene Simmons but featuring Ace Frehley on lead vocals. A heavy track that I think would have fit better on the Psycho Circus album than some of the songs they actually chose. The disc comes with no cover art. The Psycho Circus video playable on any PC is also included.

Psycho Circus Kiss - Psycho Circus (Mercury) 1998

1. Psycho Circus [Radio Edit] (4:07)
2. Raise Your Glasses [Collectors Version] (4:13)

Radio single for Kiss' "Psycho Circus". I'm not sure what the difference is between the "Collectors Version" of "Raise Your Glasses" and the album version. The radio edit of "Psycho Circus" is just a shortened version of the LP version. Regardless, I dig these little Kiss collector's items. (thanks kmorg)

KISS Kiss-Box Set (Mercury) 2001

1. "Strutter" [demo] (4:58)
2. "Deuce" [demo] (3:26)
3. "Keep Me Waiting" [Wicked Lester] (3:26)
4. "She" [Wicked Lester] (3:07)
5. "Love Her All I Can" [Wicked Lester] (2:41)
6. "Let Me Know" [demo] (3:37)
7. "100,000 Years" [demo] (5:53)
8. "Stop, Look to Listen" [Paul Stanley demo] (4:02)
9. "Leeta" [Gene Simmons demo] (2:28)
10. "Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll" [demo] (4:05)
11. "Acrobat" [live] (6:21)
12. "Firehouse" [demo] (4:37)
13. "Nothin' to Lose" (3:27)
14. "Black Diamond" (5:11)
15. "Hotter Than Hell" (3:31)
16. "Strange Ways" (3:19)
17. "Parasite" (3:03)
18. "Goin' Blind" (3:36)
19. "Anything for My Baby" (2:33)
20. "Ladies in Waiting" (2:32)
21. "Rock and Roll Nite" (2:46)
22. "C'mon and Love Me" [live] (3:08)
23. "Rock Bottom" [live] (3:20)
24. "Cold Gin" [live] (6:40)
25. "Watchin' You" [live] (3:55)
26. "Doncha Hesitate" [unreleased] (2:40)
27. "Mad Dog" [demo] (2:32)
28. "God of Thunder " [demo] (2:54)
29. "Great Expectations" (4:21)
30. "Beth" (2:45)
31. "Do You Love Me" (3:33)
32. "Bad, Bad Lovin'" [demo] (3:35)
33. "Calling Dr. Love" (3:43)
34. "Mr. Speed" [demo] (3:34)
35. "Christine Sixteen" (3:14)
36. "Hard Luck Woman" (3:34)
37. "Shock Me" (3:47)
38. "I Stole Your Love" (3:05)
39. "I Want You" [live/soundcheck] (3:31)
40. "Love Gun" [demo] (3:23)
41. "Love Is Blind" [demo] (2:45)
42. "Detroit Rock City" [edit] (3:55)
43. "King of the Night Time World" [live] (3:03)
44. "Larger Than Life" (3:59)
45. "Rocket Ride" (4:07)
46. "Tonight You Belong to Me" (4:40)
47. "New York Groove" (3:00)
48. "Radioactive" [demo] (3:09)
49. "Don't You Let Me Down" (3:40)
50. "I Was Made for Lovin' You" (4:30)
51. "Sure Know Something" (3:59)
52. "Shandi" (3:35)
53. "You're All That I Want, You're All That I Need" [demo] (4:17)
54. "Talk to Me" [live] (3:40)
55. "A World Without Heroes" (2:41)
56. "The Oath" (4:34)
57. "Nowhere to Run" [remix] (4:26)
58. "Creatures of the Night" [1985 remix] 4:02)
59. "War Machine" (4:14)
60. "I Love It Loud" (4:16)
61. "Lick It Up" (3:56)
62. "All Hell's Breaking Loose" (4:34)
63. "Heaven's on Fire" (3:21)
64. "Get All You Can Take" (3:43)
65. "Thrills in the Night" (4:21)
66. "Tears Are Falling" (3:54)
67. "Uh! All Night" (4:03)
68. "Time Traveller" [demo] (4:57)
69. "Hell or High Water" (3:26)
70. "Crazy, Crazy Nights" (3:46)
71. "Reason to Live" (4:01)
72. "Let's Put the X in Sex" (3:50)
73. "Hide Your Heart" (4:24)
74. "Ain't That Peculiar" [Eric Carr demo] (3:10)
75. "Silver Spoon" (4:41)
76. "Forever" [Single Version] (3:50)
77. "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II "(5:20)
78. "Unholy" [edit] (3:25)
79. "Domino" [demo version] (4:03)
80. "Every Time I Look at You" (4:39)
81. "Comin' Home" [live acoustic] (2:51)
82. "Got to Choose" [live acoustic] (3:31)
83. "I Still Love You" [live acoustic] (6:09)
84. "Nothin' to Lose" [live acoustic] (3:45)
85. "Childhood's End" [w/ coda] (5:26)
86. "I Will Be There" (3:48)
87. "Psycho Circus" [edit] (4:50)
88. "Into the Void" (4:22)
89. "Within" [radio edit] (4:28)
90. "I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock and Roll" (3:33)
91. "Nothing Can Keep Me from You" (4:04)
92. "It's My Life" [unreleased] (3:45)
93. "Shout It Out Loud" [live] (3:37)
94. "Rock and Roll All Nite" [live] (6:06)

Well, if your going to do a box set, leave it to the kings of excess to do it right. Kiss does everything on a grand scale and their 2001 box set is no exception. Others may sneer at the fact that Kiss has been a merchandise machine that simply lines the pockets of master-o-marketing Gene Simmons and his ever faithful sidekick Paul Stanley. Well, this may be true but in the case of this box set, the band gives the fans something for their money; over six hours of music on five discs. That's 94 tracks of demos, rarities, hits, album tracks, and live material. On top of this we also get a nicely laid out, 120-page, full-color book, including track-by-track commentary, a biography by Jeff Kitts, and tons of excellent photos that are laid out chronologically as is most of the songs. Most of the track comments are by either Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Ace Frehley offers a few comments throughout the book. Peter Criss has even less. I would have liked to have read some more from Peter and Ace. Additional comments by Bruce Kulick, Vinnie Vincent, Eric Singer, etc. would also have been nice. Despite this, I really have to say this is one of the finest box sets I have ever seen. Each disc chronicles a certain time period of the band. Each disc also comes with a full color 6 page insert with photos from the same time period. The entire five disc collection comes wrapped up in a black canvas box with red lining. The silver and black Kiss logo on the front is a metal plate that is glued onto the box. The entire track listing is glued to the back of the box as well. As with any Kiss release, there is also a merchandise order form included. There is also a 'deluxe edition' of this set that comes in a guitar case, but doesn't really contain anything extra.

Disc One 1966-1975
Disc One contains perhaps the most rarities of the five discs. Being a long-time fan of this band, I absolutely enjoyed hearing all the early demos and Wicked Lester material. The first 12 tracks of this disc are all previously unreleased demos. All this material differs from the final album versions and offers some insight into how the band started off. One of the coolest of these early tracks is 'She' as performed by Wicked Lester, which is Paul and Gene's prior band. Imagine Jethro Tull doing 'She' in the early 70's and you get an idea of what this track sounds like, flute and all. Other oddities include the 1960's Beatle-esque pop rock tracks like "Leeta." It was very nice to see underrated fan favorites like "Strange Ways" included on this disc. I always thought this was one of Kiss' most underrated songs. Actually I was quite surprised to see so much Ace material included on this set, being that the set was put together for the most part by Paul and Gene.

Disc Two 1975-1977
Disc Two shows the band in their 1970's heyday, when they became larger than life and the marketing began to become overwhelming. Still all the material on this disc shows Kiss at their finest. Once again a few demo tracks are thrown in allowing to see inside the machine a little further. The oddest of the demo tracks is "Bad, Bad Lovin'" as it features the lyrics and verses from "Calling Dr. Love" but with a completely different chorus. "God of Thunder" is interesting as it features Paul on lead vocals and Gene singing back-up in a high, almost lady-like manner. Of course, the version that finally appeard on 'Destroyer' became Gene's signature song and is the one that had Christians accusing him of worshipping the devil. During the reunion tours Gene would fly up into the light rigging to sing this song above the crowd, which is pictured on the front cover of disc five. The "live" version of "I Want You" is identical to the version that was recorded for the abandoned live in Tokyo recordings and may very well be the same recording on the Alive II album, without the audience overdubs and with Ace's solo still included.

Disc Three 1976-1982
The years of decay when the band was absolutely not focused whatsoever on what they were or what their fans wanted. The first five tracks are prime 70's Kiss, but once the solo albums start and the whole disco experimentation with tracks like "I Was Made For Lovin' You" and "Shandi" you have to be a die-hard to enjoy. Fortunately for me, I am. Tracks 16-19 feature the last of the make-up era material where the band was again focusing on the heavy metal and hard rock that made them the world wide phenomena in the mid-70's. Of course, the "Creatures" material is some of my favorite from the band and is also, in my opinion, some of their most underrated material. A live version of Ace's "Talk to Me" was a nice addition to this set. The live version of "King of the Night Time World" is said to have been recorded at the LA Forum in August, 1977. Since this song wasn't being performed on that tour, I tend to doubt that this is the case. From the sources I have read, this song may actually be a "soundcheck" recording with the audience dubbed in during the mixing process. "Creature of the Night" comes from the re-mastered, remixed 1985 version of the album, unlike the last two tracks which are taken from the original 1982 mix.

Disc Four 1983-1989
Disc Four could have been released as a single disc called "the Best of the Unmasked Years." This disc contains only a few rarities, but it's cool to finally have some of the band's finest 80's material on one disc. I always found it odd that releases like 'Smashes, Trashes & Hits' didn't contain more of the material from this era of the band. Reading through the comments by Paul and Gene, however, it's easy to see why. It seems the band doesn't look back to fondly on some of their glammy 80's pop metal material. Don't exactly understand why as the band was huge during this era and their resurrected metal sound is what brought them back into the spotlight. It was nice to see the band not slagging on Vinnie Vincent and crediting him with helping the band to come out of their slump. There is a few rarities on this disc, like the Eric Carr demo "Ain't That Peculiar" in which Eric sings and performs all instruments except the guitar which is capably handled by Bruce Kulick. This lyrics are a reworked version of a Marvin Gay song of the same title and may have just been used temporarily by Eric for the demo. This song eventually become "Little Caesar" on the "Hot in the Shade" album. Much was made of Eric's contribution to the band throughout this part of the book. Another rarity is a glam rocker from Paul Stanley called "Time Traveller." There are plenty of photos of the band, including rare shots of Vinnie and Eric Carr in their make-up.

Disc Five 1992-1999
Once again, as in the early 80's Kiss had lost focus and had to rebuild. Disc Five features tracks from the reborn Kiss and the 90's Kiss reunion, including tracks from the MTV Unplugged sessions. One song that I had not had the pleasure of hearing until this compilation was the acoustic version of "Got to Choose" which was left off the CD version of 'MTV Unplugged' and only included on the vinyl version (which I own a sealed copy of). "Into the Void" was Ace Frehley's contribution to "Psycho Circus" and is likely the only song that all four Kiss members actually played on. The title track from "Psycho Circus" should be labeled as an edit, since it omits the original album introduction on the song. Paul Stanley played the lead on this song. The accompanying book gives Ace and Peter credit for playing on the song, but it's pretty well know that they weren't given the opportunity. "Within" should also have been labeled edit or radio edit. or a short time, in October 1998, KISS had planned to release "Within" as the second radio single from the "Psycho Circus" album. The edited version that was made for that single is the version included here and cuts almost a minute from the original track. Other rarities include a demo version of "Domino" and a song written by Gene Simmons that was previously recorded by the late Wendy O Williams called "It's My Life." This song had also been recorded by Kiss for "Creatures of the Night", but the song was not used. This version of the song was recorded during the "Psycho Circus" sessions and has the entire band sharing lead vocals. "Shout It Out Loud" [live] was recorded live at Tiger Stadium, Detroit, MI, on June 27, 1996 during sound-check with the crowd added in at mixing. "Rock and Roll All Nite" was said to be a preview track from the forthcoming Kiss Alive IV. "However, Alive IV was never released, at least not as promised. This track was actually not recorded the credited New Year's show in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, but rather was recorded earlier in the year (probably on the Psycho Circus tour) and given the studio over-dub treatment as well. I had read that it was used as part of KISS' lip-synched performance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, on October 29, 1999, for Pixelon's iBash event as well. Still, Disc 5 of the box is a good overview of the later years of Kiss' career and a good listen overall.

Kiss Alive ! Kiss - Kiss Alive! 1975 - 2000 (Mercury) 2006

DISC ONE "Alive"

1. "Deuce" (3:54)
2. "Strutter" (3:22)
3. "Got to Choose" (3:52)
4. "Hotter Than Hell" (3:18)
5. "Firehouse" (3:50)
6. "Nothin' to Lose" (3:34)
7. "C'Mon and Love Me" (3:04)
8. "Parasite" (3:35)
9. "She" (6:47)
10. "Watchin' You" (3:49)
11. "100,000 Years" (12:09)
12. "Black Diamond" (6:00)
13. "Rock Bottom" (3:23)
14. "Cold Gin" (7:16)
15. "Rock and Roll All Nite" (4:01)
16. "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll" (5:44)

1. "Creatures Of The Night" (4:39)
2. "Deuce" (3:42)
3. "I Just Wanna" (4:24)
4. "Unholy" (3:27)
5. "Heaven's On Fire" (4:14)
6. "Watchin' You" (3:34)
7. "Domino" (3:47)
8. "I Was Made For Lovin' You" (4:31)
9. "I Still Love You" (6:03)
10. "Rock And Roll All Nite" (3:33)
11. "Lick It Up" (4:17)
12. "Forever" (3:53)
13. "Take It Off" (6:04)
14. "I Love It Loud" (3:20)
15. "Detroit Rock City" (5:30)
16. "God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II" (5:21)
17. "Star Spangled Banner" (2:38)

1. "Detroit Rock City (3:56)
2. "King of the Night Time World" (3:05)
3. "Ladies Room" (3:09)
4. "Makiní Love" (3:13)
5. "Love Gun" (3:31)
6. "Calling Dr. Love" (3:31)
7. "Christine Sixteen" (2:45)
8. "Shock Me" (5:50)
9. "Hard Luck Woman" (3:07)
10. "Tomorrow and Tonight" (3:06)
11. "I Stole Your Love" (3:31)
12. "Beth" (2:24)
13. "God of Thunder" (5:16)
14. "I Want You" (4:14)
15. "Shout It out Loud" (3:41)
16. "All-American Man" (3:14)
17. "Rockin' in the USA" (2:38)
18. "Larger Than Life" (4:02)
19. "Rocket Ride" (4:08)
20. "Any Way You Want It" (2:34)
21. "Rock and Roll All Nite" [Single Version] (3:23)

DISC FOUR "Kiss Alive: The Millenium Concert"

1. "Psycho Circus" (5:33)
2. "Shout It out Loud" (3:16)
3. "Deuce" (3:45)
4. "Heaven's on Fire" (4:14)
5. "Into the Void" (4:25)
6. "Firehouse" (3:59)
7. "Do You Love Me?" (3:54)
8. "Let Me Go Rock 'N' Roll" (5:16)
9. "I Love It Loud" (3:24)
10. "Lick It Up" (4:39)
11. "100,000 Years" (5:47)
12. "Love Gun" (4:17)
13. "Black Diamond" (5:28)
14. "Beth" (2:42)
15. "Rock and Roll All Nite" (5:41)

Well, after almost six years Kiss fans are finally given the Alive IV they were promised. I was happy with "Symphony Alive IV", but was a bit disappointed that the "Alive IV" that was promised on the band's web site and in the Kiss box was not released. However, in order to get this disc, we are forced to buy a four CD box set, rather than just a single disc release as we were all hoping for in 2001. Kiss Alive! 1975-2000 is 4 discs containing 69 tracks and lasting over 291 minutes. Disc-1 is "Alive!" (1975 / 77+ minutes); Disc-2 is "Alive II" (1977 / 74+ minutes) Disc-3 is "Alive III" (1993 / 73+ minutes); and Disc-4 is the promised "Alive: The Millennium Concert" (2000 / 66+ minutes). The case is a 5-side cardboard foldout. Included with the discs is an extensive 72-page booklet containing a plethora of band photos, plenty of liner notes including excerpts from band interviews, all original artwork from Alive I, II and III, including the booklets. All discs are digitally remastered as well. So, for the mere $20 I paid for this box set, it is quite worth it, despite the fact that I was forced to buy the first three Alive albums again, and in some cases for the fourth and fifth time. I'd also be willing to bet that within a year, "Kiss Alive: The Millennium Concert" will be released as a separate package and have already read rumors of this happening. I have even read on-line that the next release of "The Millennium Concert" will contain the tracks "God of Thunder", "2000 Man", "Detroit Rock City", "Shock Me", "Cold Gin", and "Forever". With that this box set will become pretty much a collector's disc only. Having said all that, I have also read on-line that it is Universal Music Company, who owns Kiss' back catalog, that is releasing all this stuff again like this, with no input from the band whatsoever.

Complaints aside, there are a lot of positives about this collection. First of all, Alive III had yet to be remastered. The sound quality on all four discs is outstanding. However I hear no noticeable difference between the remasters from a few years ago of "Alive" and "Alive II" and these. Kiss Alive III offers the bonus track "Take It Off", which was originally recorded for the record but left off. It is a nice inclusion here. The radio single edit of "Rock And Roll All Nite" from their "Alive!" is not really all that important. Almost 40 seconds is chopped out of the song for this single version that is tacked onto the end of "Alive II". Still, it was a nice bonus track. Actually, it might have been cool had they dropped the studio tracks off "Alive II" and included some more live tracks. I read on Amazon that "Alive II" will eventually be re-released with live versions of "Take Me", "Do You Love Me", "Hooligan" and "Flaming Youth" replacing the studio tracks.

The best part of this package is "The Millennium Concert" material. I am happy to finally have something from the Farewell Tour with Ace, Paul, Peter and Gene. I was fortunate enough to catch the band twice on this tour, once in Albuquerque, NM and once in Las Cruces, NM. Both shows were fantastic and were my reason for gleefully looking forward to "Alive IV". Of course the original Alive album will forever be the seminal Kiss live album, but separating that album from this one, "Alive IV" is a fantastic listen. I don't know how much of this show has been overdubbed, but regardless, it all sounds thick, meaty and energetic. There are some parts on the disc that are not perfect, which tells me that perhaps there weren't too many edits made. Unfortunately there isn't much in the way of unreleased live material here. All of these songs have seen an official release before. It would have been nice to have had "2000 Man" included, as well as Ace's guitar solo, but that is just the Kiss die-hard in me talking. As it stands, this is really a nice live collection and a very handsome collector's box.

Ikons KISS - Ikons (Mercury) 2008

DISC ONE (Gene Simmons)
1. God Of Thunder (4:15) - Stanley
2. Almost Human (2:49) - Simmons
3. Calling Dr. Love (3:47) - Simmons
4. Ladies Room (3:30) - Simmons
5. Christine Sixteen (3:14) - Simmons
6. Deuce (3:04) - Simmons
7. Rock And Roll All Nite (2:51) - Simmons/Stanley
8. Cold Gin (4:22) - Frehley
9. Parasite (3:03) - Frehley
10. Larger Than Life (4:01) - Simmons
11. Love 'em And Leave 'em (3:47) - Simmons
12. Plaster Caster (3:27) - Simmons
13. Radioactive (3:53) - Simmons
14. Charisma (4:27) - Simmons/Marks
DISC THREE (Ace Frehley)
1. New York Groove (3:03) - Ballard
2. Shock Me (3:48) - Frehley
3. 2,000 Man (4:57) - Jagger/Richards
4. Rocket Ride (4:08) - Frehley/Delaney
5. Snow Blind (3:58) - Frehley
6. Speedin' Back To My Baby (3:38) - A. Frehley/J. Frehley
7. Talk To Me (4:04) - Frehley
8. What's On Your Mind (3:29) - Frehley
9. Rip It Out (3:41) - Frehley/L. Kelly/S. Kelly
10. Save Your Love (4:42) - Frehley
11. Hard Times (3:33) - Frehley
12. Two Sides Of The Coin (3:18) - Frehley
13. Dark Light (4:21) - Frehley/Fig/Reed/Simmons
14. Into The Void (4:23) - Cochran/Frehley
DISC TWO (Paul Stanley)
1. Detroit Rock City (5:18) - Stanley/Ezrin
2. Love Gun (3:18) - Stanley
3. Take Me (2:58) - Stanley/Delaney
4. Strutter (3:11) - Simmons/Stanley
5. C'mon And Love Me (2:55) - Stanley
6. Hotter Than Hell (3:32) - Stanley
7. 100,000 Years (3:24) - Stanley
8. Rock Bottom (3:56) - Frehley/Stanley
9. Do You Love Me? (3:34) - Fowley/Ezrin/Stanley
10. All American Man (3:14) - Stanley/Delaney
11. Mr. Speed (3:21) - Stanley/Delaney
12. I Stole Your Love (3:06) - Stanley
13. Wouldn't You Like To Know Me (3:20) - Stanley
14. I Was Made For Lovin' You (4:31) - Stanley/Child/Poncia
DISC FOUR (Peter Criss)
1. Hard Luck Woman (3:35) - Stanley
2. Baby Driver (3:40) - Criss/Penridge
3. Hooligan (3:01) - Criss/Penridge
4. Beth (2:47) - Criss/Penridge/Ezrin
5. I Can't Stop The Rain (4:29) - Delaney
6. Black Diamond (5:13) - Stanley
7. Mainline (3:52) - Stanley
8. Don't You Let Me Down (3:43) - Criss/Penridge
9. Dirty Livin' (4:29) - Criss/Penridge
10. Getaway (2:45) - Frehley
11. Strange Ways (3:20) - Frehley
12. That's The Kind Of Sugar Papa Likes (3:03) - Criss/Penridge
13. Easy Thing (3:56) - Criss/Penridge
14. I Finally Found My Way (3:41) - Stanley/Ezrin 

By 2008, Kiss hadn't released a new studio album in the U.S. since '98, however the band's output of various live material and compilations hadn't slowed down. Of all the crazy re-packagings of Kiss' music out there, I find this one to be one of the better assembled. Rather than just another package of hits, this four CD set focuses one each of the individual members of Kiss; Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, and more specifically the characters or 'icons' each represent. Much like the Beatles, Kiss were as famous for each individual member as they were a group. Each disc in this collection compiles together songs that each individual member sang on. The nicely laid out 24-page insert asserts that the disc helps lay out each individual members contribution to the band, and for the most part that is true, though some songs written for the characters weren't written by that character. For instance, one of the Demons character songs is "God of Thunder" a song written by Paul Stanley, the Starchild. 

I personally find all four discs to be a great listen. Every Kiss fan has their favorite, and mine has always been Ace. His quirky style and pure rock and roll attitude has always appealed to me. As such, his was the first disc I cranked. Ace didn't start singing in Kiss until 1977, thus there are no tracks from the early years, like there are on the other three discs. His disc also features a lot more obscure tracks and fan favorites, while Simmons and Stanley's discs tend to include more hits and singles. There are a handful such as "New York Groove", the single from Ace's solo album and "Shock Me", Ace's vocal premier on the "Love Gun" album. However, it's the more obscure tracks such as "Into the Void", "What's On Your Mind", "What's On Your Mind", and the Stones cover "2000 Man" that make this disc so interesting. There are also four songs from Ace's solo album. Sadly, "Torpedo Girl" was left off this compilation. Ace's CD also feature a newer song, unlike Gene and Paul's which generally stick to the 70's songs. "Into the Void" was one of the better songs off the 1998 reunion album "Psycho Circus". 

Criss' disc is similar to Ace's in that it compiles less hits and more fan favorites and obscure tracks. Of course "Beth" was Criss' biggest hits. However, most Kiss fans tired of this song by the end of the 70's. Two incredibly underrated early Frehley compositions made their way onto Criss' disc, including "Strange Ways" and "Getaway". I always though that Criss' had an incredible voice for rock n' roll. Songs like "Black Diamond", "Baby Driver" and "Hard Luck Woman" drive this point home perfectly. Like Ace's disc, Criss' features a newer cut in "I Finally Found My Way". 

Simmons' disc is a bit perplexing to me. It features the obvious songs such as "God of Thunder", "Deuce", "Calling Dr. Love", "Ladies Room" and "Rock and Roll All Night". However, I'm not sure why great songs like "War Machine" and especially "I Love It Loud" were left off in favor of songs like "Plaster Caster" and the creepy "Christine Sixteen". And how about "Domino", "Unholy" and "Going Blind", easily some of Simmons best composition. As it stands, however, I still find the Demon's disc to be quite a good listen. Two Frehley compositions made it onto Gene's disc in the classic "Cold Gin" and "Parasite".  One song from Gene's solo album also made it onto this disc, "Radioactive". I'm also quite fond of the underrated "Charisma". 

The Starchild could have easily filled two or three discs with his outstanding compositions. As such, putting together this compilation of only fourteen songs must have been quite a chore. Unfortunately Paul's disc, much like Simmons', focuses only on his 70's compositions. The essential tracks are all here including "Detroit Rock City", "Love Gun", "Strutter", "Rock Bottom", "Hotter than Hell" and "100,000 Years". I was pleasantly surprised to hear a few of my personal favorites included; "C'mon And Love Me", "Take Me" and "Mr. Speed". With only a few slots left to fill, it's not surprising that other favorites were left out. I could have done without "I Was Made for Lovin' You", although I do realize it was one of Kiss' hit singles. I also think that "All American Man" could have been left out in favorite of any number of great songs from the 70's including "Makin' Love", "Firehouse" or even 80's songs such as "Shandi", "Creatures of the Night" or "I Still Love You". Nothing is included from Paul's 1978 solo album either. I think that "Tonight You Belong to Me" or "Move On" would have been excellent inclusions. I'm actually surprised that "Lick It Up" and "Forever" were left off, being two of Stanley's biggest hits. I suppose this is because the 1980's, non-make-up years material wouldn't have worked into the theme of "Ikons". However, a newer track such as "Psycho Circus" easily would have fit the bill as well. No matter the amount of material that could have been included on The Starchild's disc, what we are left with is still a great listen. In a nutshell, Stanley's disc is outstanding.

The five panel, fold-out digi packaging includes a ton of photos as well as the photo packed, 24-page booklet. Unfortunately, the discs themselves slide into slits, rather than being on plastic digi-trays. I suppose this is all done in the name of "being green". However, the way they are packed does little to protect the CDs from being scratched. 

For all the repackaging of old songs that has occurred with Kiss over the years, I find "Ikons" to be one of the better collections. It's focus on each individual Kiss character is a good idea. I doubt that casual Kiss fans will dish out the money for this release, but Kiss' hordes of fans are sure to grab a copy of this collector's set for themselves. 

The compilation was produced by Paul Hall & Jeff Fura and mastered by Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering, Hollywood, CA. 


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