Music > Artists > Rock

The Very Best of Kiss, KISS


August 9th, 2002

1973 in New York, NY


Years Active:
'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s


'70s Hard Rock
'70s Hard Rock
Arena Rock
Arena Rock



Rooted in the campy theatrics of Alice Cooper and the sleazy hard rock of glam rockers the New York Dolls, Kiss became a favorite of American teenagers in the '70s. Most kids were infatuated with the look of Kiss, not their music. Decked out in outrageously flamboyant costumes and makeup, the band fashioned a captivating stage show featuring dry ice, smoke bombs, elaborate lighting, blood spitting, and fire breathing that captured the imaginations of thousands of kids. But Kiss' music shouldn't be dismissed — it was a commercially potent mix of anthemic, fist-pounding hard rock driven by sleek hooks and ballads powered by loud guitars, cloying melodies, and sweeping strings. It was a sound that laid the groundwork for both arena rock and the pop-metal that dominated rock in the late '80s. Kiss was the brainchild of Gene Simmons (bass, vocals) and Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar, vocals), former members of the New York-based hard rock band Wicked Lester; the duo brought in drummer Peter Criss through his ad in Rolling Stone and guitarist Ace Frehley responded to an advertisement in The Village Voice. Even at their first Manhattan concert in 1973, the group's approach was quite theatrical; Flipside producer Bill Aucoin offered the band a management deal after the show. Two weeks later, the band was signed to Neil Bogart's fledgling record label, Casablanca. Kiss released their self-titled debut in February of 1974; it peaked at number 87 on the U.S. charts. By April of 1975, the group had released three albums and had toured America constantly, building up a sizable fan base. Culled from those numerous concerts, Alive! (released in the fall of 1975) made the band rock & roll superstars; it climbed into the Top Ten and its accompanying single, “Rock 'N' Roll All Nite,” made it to number 12. Their follow-up, Destroyer, was released in March of 1976 and became the group's first platinum album; it also featured their first Top Ten single, Peter Criss' power ballad “Beth.” A 1977 Gallup poll named Kiss the most popular band in America. Kiss mania was in full swing and thousands of pieces of merchandise hit the marketplace. The group had two comic books released by Marvel, pinball machines, makeup and masks, board games, and a live-action TV movie, Kiss Meet the Phantom of the Park. The group was never seen in public without wearing their makeup and their popularity was growing by leaps and bounds; the membership of the Kiss Army, the band's fan club, was now in the six figures. Even such enormous popularity had its limits, and the band reached them in 1978, when all four members released solo albums on the same day in October. Simmons' record was the most successful, reaching number 22 on the charts, yet all of them made it into the Top 50. Dynasty, released in 1979, continued their streak of platinum albums, yet it was their last recorded with the original lineup — Criss left in 1980. Kiss Unmasked, released in the summer of 1980, was recorded with session drummer Anton Fig; Criss' permanent replacement, Eric Carr, joined the band in time for their 1980 world tour. Kiss Unmasked was their first record since Destroyer to fail to go platinum, and 1981's Music from the Elder, their first album recorded with Carr, didn't even go gold — it couldn't even climb past number 75 on the charts. Ace Frehley left the band after its release; he was replaced by Vinnie Vincent in 1982. Vincent's first album with the group, 1982's Creatures of the Night, fared better than Music from the Elder, yet it couldn't make it past number 45 on the charts. Sensing it was time for a change, Kiss dispensed with their makeup for 1983's Lick It Up. The publicity worked, as the album became their first platinum record in four years. Animalize, released the following year, was just as successful, and the group had recaptured their niche. Vincent left after Animalize and was replaced by Mark St. John; St. John was soon taken ill with Reiter's Syndrome and left the band. Bruce Kulick became Kiss' new lead guitarist in 1984. For the rest of the decade, Kiss turned out a series of best-selling albums, culminating in the early 1990 hit ballad “Forever,” which was their biggest single since “Beth.” Kiss was scheduled to record a new album with their old producer, Bob Ezrin, in 1990 when Eric Carr became severely ill with cancer; he died in November of 1991 at the age of 41. Kiss replaced him with Eric Singer and recorded Revenge (1992), their first album since 1989; it was a Top Ten hit and went gold. Kiss followed it with the release of Alive III the following year; it performed respectably, but was not up to the standards of their two previous live records. In 1996, the original lineup of Kiss — featuring Simmons, Stanley, Frehley, and Criss — reunited to perform an international tour, complete with their notorious makeup and special effects. The tour was one of the most successful of 1996, and in 1998 the reunited group issued Psycho Circus. While the ensuing tour in support of Psycho Circus was a success, sales of Kiss' reunion album weren't as stellar as anticipated. Reminiscent of the band's late-'70s unfocused period, few tracks on Psycho Circus featured all four members playing together (most tracks were supplemented with session musicians), as the band seemed more interested in flooding the marketplace with merchandise yet again instead of making the music their top priority. With rumors running rampant that the Psycho Circus Tour would be their last, the quartet announced in the spring of 2000 that they would be launching a U.S. farewell tour in the summer, which became one of the year's top concert draws. But on the eve of a Japanese and Australian tour in early 2001, Peter Criss suddenly left the band once again, supposedly discontent with his salary. Taking his place was previous Kiss drummer Eric Singer, who in a controversial move among some longtime fans, donned Criss' cat-man makeup (since Simmons and Stanley own both Frehley and Criss' makeup designs, there was no threat of a lawsuit) as the farewell tour continued. With the band scheduled to call it a day supposedly by late 2001, a mammoth career-encompassing box set was set for later in the year, while the summer saw perhaps the most over-the-top piece of Kiss merchandise yet — the “Kiss Kasket.” The group was relatively quiet through the rest of the year, but 2002 started with a bang as Gene Simmons turned in an entertaining and controversial interview on NPR where he criticized the organization and berated host Terry Gross with sexual comments and condescending answers. He was promoting his autobiography at the time, which also caused dissent in the Kiss camp because of the inflammatory remarks made towards Ace Frehley. Frehley was quite angry at the situation, leading to his no-showing of an American Bandstand anniversary show. His place was taken by a wig-wearing Tommy Thayer, but no one was fooled and the band looked especially awful while pretending to play their instruments during the pre-recorded track. The appearance was an embarrassment for the group and for their fans, but Simmons was quick to dismiss the performance as another in a long series of money-oriented decisions. The band kept touring the globe with no new album in stores, but in 2008 they returned to the studio, re-recorded their hits, and released Jigoku-Retsuden aka KISSology or Kiss Klassics. The release was exclusive to Japan until a year later when it became a bonus disc for the band's first studio album in 11 years, Sonic Boom. Produced by Paul Stanley and Greg Collins, the album was exclusively distributed in North America by the Wal-Mart chain of stores. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato, Rovi

Top Albums

The Very Best of Kiss, KISS
1. The Very Bes..
Greatest Kiss, KISS
2. Greatest Kis..
Destroyer (Remastered), KISS
3. Destroyer (R..
Smashes, Thrashes & Hits, KISS
4. Smashes, Thr..
Alive! (Remastered), KISS
5. Alive! (Rema..
The Complete Collection: Kiss, KISS
6. The Complete..
Kiss (Remastered), KISS
7. Kiss (Remast..
Double Platinum (Remastered), KISS
8. Double Plati..
Kiss: Ace Frehley (Remastered), Ace Frehley
9. Kiss: Ace Fr..
Alive II (Remastered), KISS
10. Alive II (Re..
Love Gun (Remastered), KISS
11. Love Gun (Re..
MTV Unplugged: Kiss, KISS
12. MTV Unplugge..
Dressed to Kill (Remastered), KISS
13. Dressed to K..
Rock and Roll Over (Remastered), KISS
14. Rock and Rol..
Creatures of the Night (Remastered), KISS
15. Creatures of..
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Kiss, KISS
16. 20th Century..
Hotter Than Hell (Remastered), KISS
17. Hotter Than ..
Alive! (1975-2000), KISS
18. Alive! (1975..
Dynasty (Remastered), KISS
19. Dynasty (Rem..
Revenge, KISS
20. Revenge

Top Songs

Name Album Time Price
Rock 'n Roll All Nite Greatest Kiss 2:48 $1.29
Beth Greatest Kiss 2:48 $0.69
Detroit Rock City 20th Century Masters – The .. 3:36 $1.29
Lick It Up Very Best of Kiss 3:55 $1.29
I Was Made for Lovin' You Very Best of Kiss 4:28 $1.29
Calling Dr. Love Very Best of Kiss 3:43 $1.29
Heaven's On Fire Animalize 3:21 $1.29
Rock 'n' Roll All Nite (".. Very Best of Kiss 4:01 $1.29
Love Gun Very Best of Kiss 3:15 $1.29
New York Groove Very Best of Kiss 3:00 $1.29
Shout It Out Loud Very Best of Kiss 2:48 $1.29
Beth Very Best of Kiss 2:45 $0.69
Detroit Rock City Destroyer (Remastered) 5:18 $1.29
Forever Very Best of Kiss 3:49 $1.29
I Love It Loud Very Best of Kiss 4:14 $1.29
Detroit Rock City (Edited Version) Very Best of Kiss 3:36 $1.29
Detroit Rock City (Edit) Greatest Kiss 3:38 $1.29
Rock and Roll All Nite Dressed to Kill (Remastered.. 2:48 $1.29
Strutter Kiss (Remastered) 3:12 $1.29
God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to Yo.. Very Best of Kiss 5:19 $1.29
God of Thunder Destroyer (Remastered) 4:13 $1.29
Hard Luck Woman Very Best of Kiss 3:31 $1.29
I Was Made for Lovin' You Greatest Kiss 4:31 $1.29
Strutter Very Best of Kiss 3:10 $1.29
Crazy Crazy Nights Crazy Nights (Remastered) 3:47 $1.29

Top Music Videos

Shout It Out Loud (Live from Tiger Stadium), KISS
1. Shout It Out L..
I Was Made for Lovin' You (Live from Inner Sanctum Australian), KISS
2. I Was Made for..
Forever, KISS
3. Forever
Let's Put the X In Sex, KISS
4. Let's Put the ..
Rock & Roll All Nite (from Kiss eXposed), KISS
5. Rock & Rol..
Reason to Live, KISS
6. Reason to Live
I Love It Loud (Live), KISS
7. I Love It Loud..
I Just Wanna, KISS
8. I Just Wanna
All Hell's Breakin' Loose, KISS
9. All Hell's Bre..
Turn On the Night, KISS
10. Turn On the Ni..
(You Make Me) Rock Hard, KISS
11. (You Make Me) ..
Rise to It, KISS
12. Rise to It
Thrills In the Night, KISS
13. Thrills In the..


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