By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
KISS – LICK IT UP (1983)
I’ve been on a quest to get all of the Kiss albums added to my music collection. While I’d prefer to have them on CD of course, I’m doing this on the cheap so I’m not always able to find them in that format at a price I want to pay. So I’ve been picking some of the albums up on cassette which serves not only to get the album into my collection, but gives me another article in this series to write about.
Such is the case with Lick It Up. But before I talk about this album, I want to mention that I’ve been listening to the band’s album Destroyer a lot lately. That’s a CD edition and I’ve been really impressed with how much I like not only the classic hits on that album but the album tracks were pretty darn good as well. This plays a bit into my thoughts on Lick It Up so I thought I’d mention it now.
Since I’ve never owned the album before, I pretty much thought that the only song I’d know was the title track. The song is definitely worthy of its status as one of Kiss’s best known songs. What I didn’t realize until I listened to the album for this piece was that there are two other songs on the album that I didn’t realize I knew.
I’d hesitate to call them classic songs in the same vein as “Lick It Up”, but I would have to say that the reason I am so familiar with “Young And Wasted” and “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” is because they got played on the radio both back in 1983 and on classic rock stations to this day. As I said, I’ve never had the album before now so it wasn’t like I realized those particular songs made up part of the album’s track listing. But both of the songs immediately “rang a bell” for me and you just know that it had to be due to 94 HJY, the radio station I listen to all the time.
The funny thing is that the album started off kind of slow for me. While both “Exciter” and “Not For The Innocent” were full-on rockers, I have to say that neither song really fully captured my attention. The latter song had an edgier tone to the vocals but even that wasn’t enough. But then came “Lick It Up” and the album took off from there. I already mentioned “Young And Wasted” but the first side of the album closes with another ballsy rocker in “Gimme More”. I know that the title might conjure up the idea that it is simplistic and nothing you haven’t heard a million times before, but for some reason the song just struck a chord with me.
The second side of the album got off to a great start with the “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose”. I’m mentally slapping myself over not realizing the song was on this album before now. “A Million To One” followed that up and the uptempo track was pretty darn good as well.
However, if I’m going to pick a song that is the underappreciated gem of the album it has to be the song “Fits Like A Glove”. It is a kick-ass song that features some fantastic guitar work and the song’s fast pacing made the experience of listening to this track for what I think is the first time a supremely enjoyable “discovery” for me.
The outstanding start of the second side hit snag with the song “Dance All Over Your Face”. For me, it kind of started with what I think is just a stupid title and the song is pretty generic and forgettable otherwise.
The album closing “And On The 8th Day” goes a long way toward finishing Lick It Up on a high note for me though. Of particular note was how the symbolism of the song’s chorus resonated with me. It’s a “rock and roll forever” kind of anthemic vibe but it just seemed to catch me at the perfect moment.
The Lick It Up album may feature only one hardcore classic track but if you haven’t heard the album in full before, I think you’ll find that there is a whole lot of stellar material that (like the Destroyer album) will leave you believing it is one of Kiss’s better start-to-finish releases.
NOTES OF INTEREST: Paul Stanley has been quoted saying that he thinks the reason the album sold so well was less to do with the music and more because it was the first album with the band taking the makeup off.
Though the album did achieve platinum status, the title track is apparently the only song that still gets played regularly in concert.
Rick Derringer played the solo on lead off track “Exciter”.
Despite co-writing 8 of the 10 songs on Lick It Up, guitarist Vinnie Vincent was out of the group before their next album due to disputes with Gene and Paul over money and his role with the group. However, in recent days there’s been talk of Vincent (among other ex-members of the group) taking part in the final Kiss show when their “End of the Road” tour comes to a close.