Top 10 KISS Songs

The core of KISS was born in New York City in early 1972 when singer/rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley and singer/bass player Gene Simmons left the band “Wicked Lester” after a failed record deal. They were part of the glam scene and were influenced by bands like the “New York Dolls” and Alice Cooper.  After drummer Peter Criss joined they became a trio and began practicing until lead guitarist Ace Frehley joined in 1973. Stanley came up with the name KISS while Frehley created the iconic logo for their debut concert at the “Popcorn” club in Queens, New York.

By 1980 they released a dozen albums before original members Peter Criss and then Ace Frehley quit the band. Eric Carr replaced Criss on drums and then Vinnie Vincent replaced Frehley on lead guitar until he was fired in 1984 and was replaced by Mark St. John for a short time before Bruce Kulick took over. After Eric Carr passed away from cancer in 1991 he was replaced by Eric Singer on drums. Then in 1996, the original quartet comprised of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley reunited for a world tour. The reunification lasted 5 years until 2001 when Criss quit again and was replaced by Eric Singer. Then Ace Frehley quit in 2002 and Tommy Thayer took over as lead guitarist. In 2003, Peter Criss rejoins the band for a short time and after he leaves, Eric Singer comes back.

The final incarnation of KISS was made up Simmons, Stanley, Singer and Thayer. After nearly 50 years of performing, KISS has produced over 40 albums that have sold over 100 million units worldwide, with 30 of them becoming Gold albums. Theatrically, KISS is an iconic glam band whose arena sized concerts are some of the most spectacular events in rock history while musically they are a blues rock band amped up to 11 on the dial.

Here are Blues Rock Review’s top 10 Kiss songs.

10. “Beth”

“Beth” appeared on KISS’ 1976 Destroyer album and was the B-side of the A-side 45 rpm single “Detroit Rock City.” A little over a month later “Beth” became a “Top 40” radio hit and took over as the A-side becoming the band’s most popular song. It was written by Peter Criss and his guitarist friend Stan Penridge when they were in a band together called “Chelsea” before KISS formed. The song lyrics were snippets from telephone conversations between another member of the band and his nagging wife asking when he was coming home during rehearsals. Peter Criss would always sing the song, usually at the end of the concert with pre-recorded music.

“Beth, I hear you calling

But I can’t come home right now. 

9. “Goin’ Blind”

“Goin’ Blind” sometimes called “Going Blind” was on Hotter than Hell which was the 2nd album released by KISS in 1974. The song was written by Gene Simmons and Steve Coronel who was the lead guitarist in “Wicked Lester,” with both Stanley and Simmons before KISS was formed. It was seldom performed in concert until 1995 when the original quartet performed it on “MTV Unplugged.”  The lyrics of the song itself are about the relationship of a 93-year-old man with a 16-year-old girl.

“I’m 93, you’re 16

Can’t you see I’m goin’ blind.”

8. “Strutter”

“Strutter” was part of a five song demo in 1973 that became part of their eponymous debut album in 1974. It was co-written by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons and began as part of a song called “Stanley the Parrot.” They were looking for something that would have the swagger of the Rolling Stones song “Brown Sugar” and found it by upping the tempo of one part of the song. It was about the drop-dead gorgeous women in Greenwich Village at the time that frequented the rock and roll clubs. In an interview, Stanley said that they were from the pages of “Playboy”  and “were looking so sure of themselves, and just exuding sex.”

7. “God Of Thunder”

“God of Thunder” is another cut from the band’s 1976 release Destroyer. It was written by Paul Stanley and sung by Gene Simmons after producer Bob Ezrin changed the tempo to make it more ominous sounding. In concert Simmons would spew blood to initiate the tune and the guitar solo in it is considered by Ace Frehley to be one of his best.

6. “Deuce”

“Deuce” is another classic from the debut eponymous album that KISS released in 1974. Gene Simmons said that he wrote the song in his head while riding on the bus and worked it out using his bass guitar. Paul Stanley explained that his opening guitar riff was him “bastardizing” the “Raspberries” 1970 radio hit “Go All the Way.” Ace Frehley said that “Duece” was his favorite song to perform with the band and it was the song used for his audition as lead guitarist. It’s always been on their setlists and over the years it has been both a show opener and closer. Simmons explained that lyrically the song is pretty much a word salad that doesn’t mean anything.

5. “Love Gun”

“Love Gun” is according to Paul Stanley the song’s writer and singer “quintessential ‘KISS’ and probably one of the five essential signature songs.” He wrote the song in his head during a plane flight to Japan and it became the title song of their 6th studio album in 1977. Stanley explained in interviews that the song was about the male sex organ confirming the worst fears of “moral majority” parents.

“You pull the trigger of my

Love gun (love gun)”

4. “Cold Gin”

“Cold Gin” was written in a spiral notebook and worked out in his head by lead guitarist Ace Frehley while he was riding the subway in New York City. It appeared on KISS’ 1974 eponymous debut album and became an instant classic. The band actually launched “an official, KISS-branded gin,” named after the song.

“It’s time to leave and get another quart

Around the corner at the liquor store.”

3. “Black Diamond”

“Black Diamond” is another classic from KISS’ 1974 self-titled debut album and was written by Paul Stanley with some riff embellishment by Gene Simmons. The composition like many KISS songs was about New York City street life and was specifically believed to be inspired by a black prostitute. The song was an opportunity for Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley to create their “big guitar sound and had Peter Criss doing vocals. “Black Diamond” is also the title of the unauthorized biography of KISS by Dale Sherman.

“Whoo, black diamond

Out on the street for a living”

2. “Detroit Rock City”

“Detroit Rock City” is from the opening track of KISS’ 1976 release Destroyer. As a native of Detroit, this writer must attest to the fact that Motown was indeed rock city from early doo wop and blues to hard rock and punk. Whether it was Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels or the MC5, Detroit rocked and it was the first major city that fully embraced KISS. The song itself does two different things by first memorializing the death of a fan going to one of their shows in Charlotte as well as appreciating the loyalty of their Detroit fans.

1. “Rock and Roll All Night”

“Rock and Roll All Night” is undeniably one of “rock and roll’s” most iconic classic anthems that exuded the raucous spirit of the music itself. It appeared on their 3rd album in 1975 Dressed to Kill and according to Gene Simmons the tune began “as a song about a girl car” he called “Drive Me Wild.” He needed a chorus and shared what he had with Paul Stanley who decided to turn it into a party song. Stanley saw his role as a rock and roll preacher singing about the glories of the lifestyle that the high energy music celebrated. The song’s title was a succinct declaration of that message in one swoop phrase that became their “signature song.”

Bob Gersztyn

As a teenager in Detroit, Michigan during the early 1960’s Bob Gersztyn saw many Motown and other R&B artists including Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. After his discharge from the army in 1968 he attended school on the GI Bill and spent the next 3 years attending concerts and festivals weekly. It was the seminal period in Detroit rock & roll that Bob witnessed spawning the MC5 and Stooges along with shows featuring everyone from Jimi Hendrix and the “Doors” to B. B. King and John Lee Hooker. In 1971 He moved to Los Angeles, California to finish his schooling where he became an inner city pastor promoting and hosting gospel concerts. He moved to Oregon in 1982 and began photographing and reviewing concerts for music publications. Since that time he has published myriads of photographs, articles, interviews, and contributed to 2 encyclopedias and published 6 books on everything from music to the military. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Bob%20Gersztyn His rock & roll photo art is available for sale on Etsy @: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ConcertPhotoImages?ref=seller-platform-mcnav Bob may be contacted personally at bobgersztyn@gmail.com

6 thoughts on “Top 10 KISS Songs

  • March 12, 2022 at 7:27 am
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    Kiss have been called lots of things but Blues Rock? I don’t think so….

    Reply
  • March 14, 2022 at 10:31 pm
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    That was a great list but rock n roll all night is a great commercial hit but not their best in my opinion

    Reply
  • March 15, 2022 at 5:38 am
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    Part two might probably include Shock Me, Hard Luck Woman, Calling Dr. Love, Larger Than Life, All American Man, Sure Know Something, I Was Made for Lovin’ You, Creatures of The Night, War Machine, I Still Love You, etc.

    Undoubtedly, the first Van Halen album will blow up the whole Kiss catalogue to smithereens. In the late 70’s, Circus Magazine once reviewed that the first Foghat Live album made KISS sound like a folk act.

    Reply
  • March 15, 2022 at 5:51 pm
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    I literally grew up on KISS, been to many of there concerts,I was a drummer almost 15 years, my favorite album is & always has been “DESTROYER” still listen to it all the time yet

    Reply
  • August 6, 2022 at 7:25 am
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    Have you ever heard of a song called Heaven’s on Fire? Why has that Kiss song been forgotten? Ask your Alexa to play Beth, and then Heaven’s on Fire, or even Rock and Roll all Night, and then Heaven’s on Fire, and then tell me honestly which one sound the coolest? Which one do you want to listen to again? There’s no way any Kiss song tops that. That was their one true masterpiece. It’s sad there it’s not talked about anymore.

    Reply
  • August 6, 2022 at 7:26 am
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    Have you ever heard of a song called Heaven’s on Fire? Why has that Kiss song been forgotten? Ask your Alexa to play Beth, and then Heaven’s on Fire, or even Rock and Roll all Night, and then Heaven’s on Fire, and then tell me honestly which one sounds the coolest? Which one do you want to listen to again? There’s no way any Kiss song tops that. That was their one true masterpiece. It’s sad there it’s not talked about anymore.

    Reply

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