After reading Ricki C's not-so-positive (but entertaining) take on Sirius XM's limited engagement channel dedicated to all things Kiss, I thought it was my duty to counter with my own thoughts on Kiss Army Radio.
I was pretty excited when I heard Sirius XM Radio would be doing a Kiss channel. They have done limited engagement channels for many artists in the past, including Tom Petty, Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones and others. They even have permanent channels for Elvis and The Beatles. (editor’s note: and Bruce Springsteen.)
Most people listen to Sirius XM Radio in their cars but I am a non-driver, so I had to download the app and listen on my phone. This was kind of a pain because I had to sign up for a subscription to Sirius XM Radio for a minimum of 6 months at $5.99 a month. Not really a big expense, but once Kiss Army Radio is over I probably won't use the app much anymore.
It kind of reminded me of a time back in 1979 when I begged my parents to get HBO because the new cable movie channel announced they would be airing a Kiss concert that was taped in Japan. My parents really didn't want to get HBO but with my non-stop pleading they eventually caved and I got to watch the Kiss concert several times.
Sometimes you just gotta do things for your favorite band.
Anyways, I picked a random hour to tune in and see how many "good" Kiss songs I would hear on Kiss Army Radio. I will admit I am a bit biased when it comes to Kiss but I also don't mind calling them out when they fall short.
This is how my hour with Kiss Army Radio went:
1. "A World Without Heroes" (Music From The Elder / 1981)
So the hour didn't start out with a bang but I do like this song. I love The Elder, it's actually in my Top 5 favorite Kiss albums. I wish the hour had started out with "The Oath," but hearing anything from this album on the radio makes for a pretty exciting day.
2. "Do You Love Me" (Kiss Symphony: Alive IV / 2003)
Another good Kiss song but I do not like the symphony version. I think the MTV Unplugged version would have worked better here.
3. "Hell Or Hallelujah" (Monster / 2012)
This song comes from what will probably be the last ever Kiss studio album, Monster, released in 2012. Typical latter-day Kiss rocker. I'd say this song is just ok, not horrible but not great either.
I did notice that this song along with "Modern Day Delilah" from 2009's Sonic Boom album got a lot of airplay. I guess they had to throw Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer a bone every once and awhile.
4. "She" (Dressed To Kill / 1975)
A track that dates back to Paul and Gene's pre-Kiss band Wicked Lester and eventually appeared on Kiss' 1975 album Dressed To Kill.
"She" is a classic! I love everything about this song. It has cool vocal harmonies, a killer bass groove from Gene Simmons, and a tasty guitar solo from Ace Frehley.
If you have ears, you will recognize that this is a killer song.
5. "Creatures Of The Night" (Creatures Of The Night / 1982)
Kiss made a big return musically with their 1982 album Creatures Of The Night and the title track is one of the best Kiss album openers ever. This is an excellent song and you can tell Kiss were on a mission to prove they could still rock.
6. "Charisma" (Dynasty / 1979)
"Charisma" comes from an album that a lot of people refer to as Kiss' disco album. Dynasty definitely had flourishes of disco on it but no more than The Rolling Stones Some Girls, The Kinks Low Budget or The Game from Queen.
Dynasty is a solid rock album and "Charisma" is one of my favorites from the record.
Dynasty is not Disco and Carnival Of Souls is not Grunge.
Speaking of Carnival Of Souls, did anyone hear a track from that record on Kiss Army Radio?
7. "Black Diamond" (Kiss / 1974)
Epic song that closes Kiss' 1974 debut album.
Written by Paul Stanley who sings the intro and then turns the lead vocal over to drummer Peter Criss. I always loved how Kiss traded off lead vocals in the early days. As a kid I never really knew who was singing what, it seemed so effortless on their part.
"Black Diamond" is a truly a classic by any rock n roll standard. A song so great that The Replacements covered it on their excellent Let It Be album.
8. "Rocket Ride" (Alive II / 1977)
An often-overlooked classic from the band featuring Ace Frehley on lead vocals.
This song appears on Side 4 of Kiss Alive II. The band recorded five brand new studio tracks as a special surprise for fans buying the new live album. I loved all the new material on Side 4 of Alive II and "Rocket Ride" is a strong showing from The Spaceman.
9. "Psycho Circus" (Psycho Circus / 1996)
Title track from the band’s 1998 reunion album with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.
It actually wasn't much of a reunion album at all, as Ace and Peter had very limited involvement with the creation of the album.
It was an exciting time to be a Kiss fan, though. The band had just completed a highly successful world tour with the original lineup, Kiss was back on top.
Even without Ace and Peter being involved, I do like the album Psycho Circus. The title track has a classic Kiss vibe about it and it has been a staple in the set list for the past 20 years.
10. "New York Groove" (Ace Frehley / 1978)
I was wondering if Kiss Army Radio would delve into the 1978 solo albums and to my surprise they did.
"New York Groove" was the only actual hit to come from the 1978 Solo Albums, so I guess it makes sense that they included it here.
Wow, we are up to 2 Ace Tracks this hour. Things are looking good.
11. "Hell Bent For Leather" - Judas Priest (Kiss pick)
Each hour during Kiss Army Radio there was a track that was supposedly hand-picked by the band. These songs were from bands that influenced Kiss or had some sort of connection with the band.
Judas Priest opened for Kiss during the 1979 Dynasty tour. At that time Judas Priest was supporting their recently-released live album Unleashed In The East that was recorded during their Hell Bent For Leather tour of Japan.
I saw Priest open for Kiss in July of 1979, so I can approve of the inclusion of this song during my Kiss Army Radio listening experience.
12. "Room Service" (You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best / 1996)
Another great song that originally appeared on 1975's Dressed To Kill.
The version played during this hour came from the archival release You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best. This album combined previously released live versions of Kiss classics plus some doctored-up live versions of songs that had never been released.
Paul added new vocals to this vintage track and it sounds a little weird to me. 1996 Paul sounds a lot different than 1975 Paul.
Still a great song but I would have played the Dressed To Kill version.
13. "Lick It Up" (Lick It Up / 1983)
Title track from the band’s 1983 album and the first to feature the band without their trademark make-up.
"Lick It Up" is a good song but I've heard it so many times over the years that it isn't really one of my favorites.
I would have picked "A Million To One" instead. In fact, I actually did pick this song for the KISS Unmasked Fantasy Draft.
14. "Spit" (Revenge / 1992)
Some interesting programming going on here, "Lick It Up" followed by "Spit"? Accident? Probably not, I'm guessing Gene was controlling the airwaves for these back to back tracks.
I love the Revenge album but this is not one of my favorite tracks. Musically I think it's great but the lyrics are a bit cringe-worthy.
With that said, "Spit" did somehow make it onto my fantasy Kiss record when the Pencil Storm staff attempted to rank the songs of the non make-up era of the band.
15. "Calling Dr. Love" (Rock And Roll Over / 1977)
A signature Gene track from Rock And Roll Over.
I dig this tune and I love Ace Frehley’s crazy guitar solo on this track. One of my favorite Ace solos.
Definitely a good one.
16. "Shock Me" (Love Gun / 1977)
The hour came to a close with another Ace lead vocal, we are up to three now!
This is Ace's signature song and one of my favorites from the Spaceman.
Overall I think my hour with Kiss Army Radio was pretty solid. Definitely wasn't packed with hits but Kiss really isn't a "hits" kind of band.
I think Kiss Army Radio did a great job of satisfying casual fans but they really did dive deep for the die hard fans as well.
I have randomly tuned in over the last few days and heard songs like "Torpedo Girl", "I", "Paralyzed", "And On The 8th Day", "Tonight You Belong To Me", "Is That You" and many other lesser-known songs.
The channel did a nice job of covering all eras. Ace seemed to be well represented during the times I spent listening. Could have just been a timing thing but I didn't hear many songs from Peter. I heard "Beth" and "Hard Luck Woman" several times but no "Hooligan" or "Baby Driver". I'm sure they played more from the Cat but I must have missed it.
Also, I do wish they had included some vintage concerts or maybe some interviews from the vaults.
Kiss Army Radio is now just a memory but hopefully they will bring it back in the future. It was a fun listen and I’d say a hit!
Sirius XM aired a live broadcast of Kiss performing at the Whiskey A Go Go from the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California. Check out the clips below of the band performing “Deuce” and “Black Diamond” at this historic venue.
Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH bands Radio Tramps and Returning April. Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.