My Record Collection: KISS - Crazy Nights (1987)
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
01. Crazy Crazy Nights 02. I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You
03. Bang Bang You 04. No, No, No
05. Hell Or High Water 06. My Way
07. When Your Walls Come Down
08. Reason To Live 09. Good Girl Gone Bad
10. Turn On The Night 11. Thief In The Night
Paul Stanley – vocals and rhythm guitar
Gene Simmons – vocals and bass
Bruce Kulick – lead guitar and backing vocals
Eric Carr – drums, percussion and backing vocals
Phil Ashley – keyboards
Tom Kelly – backing vocals
Crazy Nights is the 14th studio album from KISS. The album was released on September 18, 1987. The eleven-track album was produced by Ron Nevison (Meat Loaf, Heart, The Who, Bad Company, Ozzy Osbourne).
While KISS did return to the charts with three consecutive platinum albums, Lick It Up, Animalize and Asylum. The band were a little frustrated that they weren't getting that mainstream top 40 success like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard ,Heart and Whitesnake.
So, when it came to record KISS’ 14th studio album, founding member Paul Stanley sought out producer extraordinaire Ron Nevison to sit at the helm.
Nevison started his career in the early 1970s as an engineer on Quadrophenia by the Who and Bad Company's debut album. By the 1980s Nevison garnered notoriety as the “go-to” producer for veteran rock acts needing a commercial reintroduction to a new generation of rock fans. Nevison's magic touch gave both Heart and Ozzy Osbourne multi-platinum albums and mainstream hits singles exposing their music to wider audience. With his track record, it looked that Ron Nevison was the right man to give Kiss that kind of mainstream success they were chasing after in the 80s.
Although the album went platinum and had three singles (Crazy Crazy, Reason To Live, Turn On the Night) in heavy rotation on MTV, it never became the cross-over record the band was shooting for.
There are few reasons as to why Crazy Nights stalled and failed to reach a wider audience.
KISS were slowly finding their footing and credibility as a rock band, gradually bringing back their core audience with Creatures of the Night, Lick It Up, Animalize and Asylum. Crazy Nights marks a drastic departure in the bands sound. Crazy Nights was their first album that relied heavily on keyboards and synthesizers. The album confused new and old Kiss fans alike.
As Kiss fans were ready to put the disco era of the band behind them, Kiss drops the ultra-poppy Crazy Nights album. That Kiss were kind of sounding like any another “glam rock” band didn’t sit too well with long-time fans. You have to remember back in the 70s and 80s it was considered sacrilege for a rock band to use keyboards and synthesizers. It took Van Halen and Iron Maiden to put that stigma to rest, although at the time it was still considered a career-ending gamble for both VH and Maiden to include keyboards and synthesizers on their respective albums. Luckily, times and tastes have changed.
The biggest issue with Crazy Nights was that the album wasn’t very consistent. Songs like Bang Bang You, No, No, No and Good Girl Gone Bad are arguably some of the weakest songs in the entire Kiss catalog. If you are going to drastically change your sound and throw off your core audience, you better have a killer set of tracks to back it up. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case here. Crazy Nights sorely lacked Stanley's melodic anthems and Simmons's raunchy rockers to put this record over.
Speaking of Gene Simmons. Most fans know at this point in time Simmons was more actively involved in pursuing a number of outside interests (such as acting and producing other groups) which unfortunately limited his participation and hurt the quality of the songs that he brought into the project.
Don’t get me wrong, the album isn’t all bad. Stanley's voice is in fine form here. Crazy Crazy Nights is a great pop anthem, and I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You is an under-rated KISS track with an outstanding vocal performance by Stanley. My Way and Turn On The Night show that Stanley is an underrated pop-rock writer who really knows his way around a hook.
At the time I really enjoyed Crazy Nights. It didn’t sound like anything else in the band's catalog which made it sound fresh and new.
Granted, Crazy Nights is no way in the same league as Destroyer, Creatures of the Night, or Rock and Roll Over, but it has some catchy songs, and sometimes that’s all you need.
Crazy Nights isn’t a terrible album, it's just a little too slick in its production.
The bottom line is that if KISS fans have learned to embrace the commercial failure of the band's concept album The Elder, then it’s time to give Crazy Nights some love too.