Review: KISS – Hot In The Shade (Vertigo)
First of all let’s run through the problems with this record. It’s overlong that’s for sure, there is a number of filler tracks written by Simmons such as Prisoner Of Love and Somewhere Between Heaven And Hell that simply could have been left off the record but as per normal with an ego as out of control as his was in the 80’s it was sometimes impossible for him to cup the cream off the milk so to speak. Not only that but the albums length made listening to it on vinyl a joyless experience, the grooves were so close together that sonically not only was the volume reduced but the defining of the instrumentation suffered. A few years later matters didn’t really improve when I bought Hot In The Shade on CD. It’s just poorly mixed and mastered and seems rush recorded.
I remember queuing up in the line at Our Price in Margate with my cash ready in hand hoping that not only would I enjoy the record as much as it’s predecessor Crazy Nights, but that this new recording would eclipse it. Initially I was really disappointed. Luckily as usual Paul Stanley’s pop suss came to the rescue. Lead cut Rise To It is a back to basics party anthem and featured a great video with Paul and Gene discussing whether or not they should put the make up on again. You Love Me To Hate You on the other hand is utterly 80’s era Kiss and is my favourite track. Paul’s voice is utterly stretched but never gets whiney like latter day Axl Rose’s does.
It not all bottom of the barrel for Gene, Love Is Like A Slap In The Face follows on from 1983’s Fit’s Like A Glove and can be placed directly into Simmons bulging box of classic songs and likewise Stanley doesn’t always hit dizzying heights. My two least favourite Kiss songs appear on this album, Hide Your Heart which Ace Frehley also covered on his 1989 solo album Trouble Walkin’ (his version is slightly better) and the absolute stinker that is the power ballad Forever which turned out to be Kiss’ biggest ever hit or something crazy like that. It’s horrible and syrupy nonsense that America lapped up. It became Kiss’ second top ten hit ever (the first being Beth in 1976). Maybe it’s not that bad but I just remember thinking I wish those Americans would grow some balls and stop with all these bloody love songs. I guess that’s how I became so absorbed with thrash metal around the same time.
Hot In The Shade was the last full album that drummer Eric Carr played on before he died from a rare form of heart cancer in 1991 after completing the stomping, laser pulsing Hot In The Shade tour and in this record we have his best vocal performance the band in Little Caesar it’s a spunky little epitaph to the man that wraps up a good yet not great Kiss record.
In this one record everything that made Kiss in the 80’s so great and so rubbish is featured. The 90’s would in hindsight prove much more lucrative for the group.