Paul Stanley
Live to Win


2.5
average

Review

by Pedro B. USER (303 Reviews)
April 2nd, 2010 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Solid hard rock which suffers as much from identity crisis as it does from lack of choruses.

Anybody who’s been privvy with KISS for more than five minutes knows Gene Simmons is merely a flash in the pan; the best choruses and interpretations always came from his slightly more discreet partner in crime, Paul Stanley. Much more competent both vocally and musically, Stanley was the one that crafted the musical side of KISS, leaving the tween-seducing, fire-spitting antics to his towering co-leader. Therefore, it came as no surprise that his 1979 self-named effort was by far the best of the four KISS solo albums released that year. With his second solo album, 2006’s Live To Win, Stanley may have been looking to repeat that successful formula, and while his album may not be the best of the extra-KISS releases, it is certainly the most carefully tailored.

Written, for the most part, with hitmaker Desmond Child (who wrote for Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper and Def Leppard, among others), Live To Win presents ten perfectly-crafted hard rock songs, which walk a fine line between “modern” and “classic” brands of hard rock, and end up getting a little lost along the way. The biggest surprise comes with the first three songs, which see Stanley eschew his traditional style of hard rock in favour of an updated approach that puts him in the same ballpark with bands like Creed, 3 Doors Down or Three Days Grace.

The title track introduces this new sound, sounding like it could have been written by one of the bands on the most “uplifting” side of the spectrum (think 12 Stones), while Lift starts out with a riff that would make Adam Gontier proud, then evolves into a chorus where soaring orchestrations and crashing guitars are set over a solid slow-tempo rhythm section. And speaking of Adam Gontier, he would also certainly approve of Wake Up Screaming, which would have fit nicely into his band’s latest release. At this point, it seems Stanley is setting out to either teach the kids how it’s done, or just flat-out hop on their bandwagon. Either way, his output is never more than average, even by the genre’s somewhat low standards.

But then, around track four, everything changes. Everytime I See You Around and, more significantly, Bulletproof bring us back to the style of hard rock that made Stanley famous, sounding not far removed from what KISS were doing in the 80’s (a time when, incidentally, Paul Stanley was their main frontman). This point is abundantly proven by Second To None, the first of two power-ballads, which sounds very much like a successor to Reason To Live (off Asylum) and Forever, off Hot In The Shade. The new-rock influences try to resurface for a few moments on All About You and It’s Not Me, but for all intents and purposes, Live To Win becomes a straight-out hard rock album from this point on.

It is also in this section that the more interesting songs are located. Standouts include Second To None and Bulletproof, two songs exactly as cheesy as they are well-made and appealing. The first, as mentioned, is a power-ballad, while the second is a mid-tempo rocker which sounds like it was timewarped directly from 1986. The remainder of the songs, while not exactly captivating, are listenable, at no time bordering on offensiveness.

It’s only a pity, then, that there isn’t more to this album. Ultimately, Live To Win has two good songs, two okay songs, and over half an album’s worth of bland, harmless, boring filler. If Stanley could have put as much effort into his hooks as he did into making sure the songs were well-tailored and didn’t overstay their welcome, this would have been an above-par album. As it is, Live To Win will certainly charm the pants off salivating KISS fans, but for everyone else, it will be “just another” album that you listen to with half an ear, then throw away just as promptly. If you want lasting hard rock records, stick with the Ace.

Recommended Tracks
Bulletproof
Second To None



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user ratings (18)
Chart.
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
April 2nd 2010


8259 Comments


I do admire your insane will to review everything associated with KISS.

ReturnToRock
April 2nd 2010


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I am reviewing exactly ONE MORE KISS-related album. I'm not going into the Vinnie Vincent, Eric Carr, Eric Singer or Bruce Kulick side projects. It's not like I didn't THINK of doing it, but it would be pointless, since some of these musicians have a career prior to and outside of KISS.

Therefore, KISS My Ass, the tribute album, will mark my last KISS-related review. And that's only because it should have been reviewed way back after the Sonic Boom review. After that, I'm done, and I'm going back to good music.

Nagrarok
April 2nd 2010


8259 Comments


Phew.

bloc
April 2nd 2010


34915 Comments


I look at the cover and I instantly think "Paul Stanley is watching you poop."

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2010


16403 Comments


good review! i won't be checking this out though tbh

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

tiesthatbanned
April 2nd 2010


100 Comments


I've been faithfully reading most of these KISS reviews and I've still only heard a couple of their songs.

IRAI
April 2nd 2010


1567 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I WAKE UP!

I WAKE UP SCREAMING!

NebSnurb
April 2nd 2010


535 Comments


Yeah, these are some of the most enjoyable reviews Ive read since I joined this site, 2 years ago.

ReturnToRock
April 2nd 2010


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Norfin Trollneg

Ire
April 2nd 2010


41794 Comments


LIVE TO WIN

TIL U DIE

EasternLight
April 2nd 2010


2700 Comments


his eyes are creepy

ReturnToRock
April 3rd 2010


3448 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thank you sir. I do my best.

GlennPageMusic
February 14th 2012


1 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't know, there's a few songs on this album I really like, and I am not really a Kiss fan. (I own none of their albums although I have heard ALOT of their songs.) I particularly like "Where Angels Dare" and "It's Not Me" which are buried near the end of the album. "Wake Up Screaming" and "Live to Win" are fun too... and most of the rest is pleasant enough. I scored it a 3.

patman1001
September 27th 2012


1012 Comments


the only reason i know about this is because of the WoW episode of south park



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