Lick It Up
(Mercury 558 858)

More ball-rockin' product from Kiss, this time around, without the makeup. The year was 1983 and times were changing. The world needed to see how hideous Kiss actually was without the kabuki face paint. They'd always known how hideous they were to the ears, of course.

Lick It Up is as hard-rockin' an album as they ever made. With Vinnie Vincent now officially in place and Ace Frehley gone, plus Eric Carr, who could actually drum, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were ready to take on the MTV generation. And how could they lose with unforgettable standards like "Young and Wasted," "Dance All Over Your Face," and "All Hell's Breakin' Loose?"

Well, Kiss never loses, my friend. The listener sometimes does, but Kiss always winds up on top. And that's why I fully support albums as totally melody-free as this one. Pure energy and swagger, with 0% songwriting prowess entering the equation.

Now, that's not always a bad thing, especially with Kiss. When they start overachieving, you get stuff like Music From the Elder, or "Great Expectations," which is all well and good, but all a Kiss fan wants is to be rocked. And just when you wanted to tearfully turn to your Kiss poster and whimper "You … you never rock me anymore," they unleash the fury of Lick It Up, and it restores all your faith.

Okay, right now I'm listening to "Gimme More," and I'd tell you how it goes, even if I thought it "went" any particular way. This album is constructed from riffs, breaks, screaming, and studio veneer.

Does that make it bad? Of course not! This is a Kiss album! They're always good! In a not-really-but-really kind of way. Do I like it ironically? I don't know! Clearly I don't respect it, right? I don't think so! But who knows! This is 1983 hard rock with no frills, just the way your mother hates it. Go ahead, crank it up. Go sneak a beer out of dad's fridge in the garage. Sure, you're long past old enough to buy one for yourself, but you still got to rebel man! "All hell's breakin' loose/Hey, have you read the news?"

Fans of Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister will have room for Lick It Up on their shelves. They won't be able to sing any of it to you after it's over, except possibly parts of the title track (the single), but who the fuck cares? It's Kiss!

Review by Geoff Chinese