Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Lick It Up" by Kiss

Song#:  1690
Date:  11/12/1983
Debut:  87
Peak:  66
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Hard Rock

Pop Bits:  After a streak of platinum albums in the mid-to-late 70s, Kiss' fortunes began to slowly dwindle. Their 1980 album Unmasked managed to go gold, but their concept album Music from The Elder and their next effort Creatures of the Night failed to even do that (Creatures would eventually go gold in 1994). Their tours started to see diminishing returns as well and the band knew they needed to do something to turn things around. They did so in dramatic fashion when they decided to ditch their trademark stage makeup for their next LP Lick It Up. The album cover, interviews and tour were all done minus their makeup and associated personas that began with their 1974 self-titled debut album. As expected, the image makeover got a lot of attention including on MTV where the band debuted their fresh faces on the video network the day the album was released. The ploy worked. The album went gold a couple months after its release (it would eventually go platinum) and this first title-track single would get to #19 at Rock while making an appearance on the Pop chart. The band would remain unmasked until a 1996 reunion that featured the original lineup in their makeup and costumes.

ReduxReview:  I never got into Kiss. Their brand of bawdy hard rock just wasn't my thing. However, through their career they would occasionally toss off a song that would get my attention. This was one of them. Of course, the unmasking was quite the news o' the day, so it was difficult to avoid them or this song. Luckily, they began their new fresh-faced era with this solid anthematic tune. It was heavy on the commercial rock side and sounded terrific. With hard rock getting more airplay on pop stations and bands like Quiet Riot moving up the chart, I thought this could easily become one of their bigger hits and was a bit surprised when it stalled in the bottom half of the chart. Despite that result, it does remain one of their most popular concert tracks.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  So where did their legendary stage looks come from? As Gene Simmons mentioned in an interview, back in the early 70s when the band was just beginning, glam rock and its almost androgynous look was taking off. The band wanted to stand out, so they tried something similar. It didn't work. Simmons said that they were not thin, smaller guys and their 6-foot frames couldn't carry off the glam look. He said they looked more like drag queens than rockers. Simmons then just started experimenting and before long the pattern that would grace his face developed. Without any direction or marketing forethought, the other members followed suit and soon they established their own makeup patterns and personas to go with them. Gene Simmons was known as the Demon, Paul Stanley was the Starchild, Ace Frehley was the Spaceman (or Space Ace), and Peter Criss was the Catman. Two other future members also adopted a look and persona - Eric Carr was the Fox and Vinnie Vincent was the Wiz (or the Ankh Warrior).


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