Join me now as we return to the year 1987 when MTV was ruling the small screens of homes everywhere and teenagers and the not so much would tune in to see the top videos of the day. It was during this time that the band KISS would release what amounted to be their most commercial album yet with “Crazy Nights”. An album that celebrates its thirtieth anniversary today. By the time 1987 rolled around, it seemed like the makeup had been gone from the faces for so much longer and I guess this was due to the band having released three albums previously all without the famous face paint. “Creatures Of The Night” would be the last makeup years album and when Vinnie Vincent became an official member for “Lick It Up” it was gone. Then came “Animalize” and “Asylum” and new guitarists in Mark St. John for “Animalize” onto Bruce Kulick for “Asylum” where he would continue the role on “Crazy Nights”. At the time of this release Eric Carr (RIP) had become my very favorite drummer and despite being a super diehard for the legendary Ace Frehley, I was quite enjoying the skills that Kulick was bringing to the table. Before getting deep into thoughts on this one, remember that these are personal reflections to the best that’s possible and not line for line history since that is already on the Wikipedia entry. Here we go.
I bought my copy of “Crazy Nights” on vinyl from a store in my neighborhood called The Record Factory. It’s been gone for a very long time as I write this and now is one of the numerous cell phone providers sales places. A band friend of the time would join me in my first listen to the album over a couple of beers in my Sanctum Sanctorum basement headquarters in my parent’s house and while I had heard the single somewhere already was a tad concerned on just how commercial this seemed to be. According to interviews of the time the band had hired on producer Ron Nevison and he was tasked at giving the band a brand-new radio friendly sound. Nevison had worked on Ozzy’s “The Ultiimate Sin” and there were some hits on the release so KISS probably felt that his touch would do similar magic to their latest work. As my friend and I worked through the listen it was agreed that the second number was a killer one but “Bang Bang You” was junk. Too corny and lame we felt – with lines like “I’ll shoot you down with my love gun baby” – Please. I was pretty much a fan of KISS for the past ten years at this time and was feeling very let down by my favorite band as I worked deeper into the release. Below you can examine the full track listing and I’ll continue to share my favorites afterwards.
1. Crazy Crazy Nights
2. I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You
3. Bang Bang You
4. No, No, No
5. Hell Or High Water
6. When Your Walls Come Down
7. Reason To Live
8. Good Girl Gone Bad
9. Turn On The Night
10. Thief In The Night
Looking over the tracks on the album the songs that found the most appealing way back when I was first spinning it still are my favorites and yeah, I did admit to not liking a whole lot of it when I did the first couple of go rounds on the turntable. Over the years more about it grew on me as good Rock & Roll songs. The title track is quite an anthemic number and holds a lot of charm while I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You” was probably my most favored tune of them all. I loved the furious feet of Eric on “No, No, No” but didn’t think much of the tune and while it’s a sappy ballad “Reason To Live” eventually won me over. Back in the day I felt this reminded me a lot of the Heart track “What About Love” (I think it was that one) and I guess this came from the Ron Nevison production. For some reason I loved “Turn On The Night” but the song was not really KISS fare and something that one expected to hear more from a band like Journey or even Loverboy. This one should have been on the radio but I don’t remember ever hearing it. I was a frequent listener to WPLJ and they were locked into replaying the same Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple songs over and over each day. For me as a KISS fan there was equal parts lame and equal parts of “it’s okay” and while I say this I can also state that the friends I had back then who were just only now listening to KISS loved it. It was their first go at the band and I guess it hit them much differently than it did me. I would still go to their concert when it happened in my area at the easily accessed Brendan Byrne arena. It’s commonly referred to as “The Meadowlands” but it’s been closed for a few years now. The songs from the album that were done on the tour did sound a lot more lively in the setting of a concert so that was a good thing. One thing I remember about the show was that the tour book was massive. I have to see where this is so I can include some photos from it.
I mentioned purchasing my copy at the local record shop and I still have the album. I’ve included it in this Music Milestone toast for your enjoyment.
Back in the day the albums used to come with a decorative sleeve and this one was no exception. One side had a current photo of the group and the other side had the lyrics to the songs for those of you who wanted to sing along while you listened to it.
The band offered up a few videos from the album and that made sense since these were the days of MTV prominence. In addition to the album’s title track “Crazy Nights” we would get “Turn On The Night” and the ballad “Reason To Live”. Most of them reside on an “Official” KISS Vevo channel, but the albums’s title track is not among them so I had to use a fan posting. Check them out.
As I close up this latest Music Milestone, I can honestly say that after all these years it’s a good album to me. My listening habits are very different and sometimes I just pine for a simple and solid Rocking track. I’m chuckling as I recall just the other night after watching the Scorpions kick some NYC behind in concert that “Crazy Crazy Nights” came on over the jukebox and many of the people around me were singing along. I was too and I had wondered if they realized that this very album was having a birthday. Congratulations KISS, you still are my favorite band even if you sometimes drive me crazy. Here is to your next music milestone achievement.