Review Summary: More like Greatest Cheese.
In the early-to-mid 90’s, with a good 20 years of making music behind them, KISS, like every other ‘veteran’ band behind them except maybe The Beatles, discovered the joys of reunion tours. It made the fans happy, it made recording companies happy, and it brought mucho buckos into the band’s safe deposits. So what if the musicians couldn’t get along" It sold!
This explains why, from 1995 onwards, Simmons and Stanley unceremoniously dumped their longtime MKV companions and got back together with the original MKI: Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. This also explains why the vast majority of their releases from that point onwards were Greatest Hits packages. The trend started with Alive III
, still with Kulick and Singer, and quickly spread to You Wanted The Best…You Got The Best
, a misleadingly-titled quasi-bootleg, and Greatest Kiss
. In the following decade, the group would release one more volume of Alive
, two compilations, including a Japan-only re-recording album, and a new album which featured a bonus CD with…the band’s greatest hits. In a measly ten years, the number of compilation albums and live albums in the group’s official discography nearly doubled, and the sad part was the fans were still lapping it up.
is no different than all those other compilations. Initially devised as an international release only, public demand justified a US edition. In total, there were four different packages, all with slightly different tracklists, released in Europe/Australia, Japan, America and Mexico. The version I downloaded happened to be the Euro/Aussie version, but I know the American version is also readily available (I checked).
The differences between each release are minimal. Basically, the key setlist remains the same, with only the final three tracks varying from edition to edition. Furthermore, the live version of Shout It Out Loud
is placed differently in each version, and some versions had one or two tracks more or less. But in general, they all share a common trait: they’re basically Double Platinum
with a few more tracks from latter albums.
And therein lies the first disappointment. Over 20 years had passed between Double Platinum
and Greatest KISS
, yet that time lapse is never explored – the group merely gives us tracks from the pre-1980 period, like those were the only albums that mattered. Sure, the 80’s were filled with crap, but the 90’s yielded one very good album (Revenge
) and even the 80’s had their standout songs, like I Love It Loud, Heaven’s On Fire
or Crazy Crazy Nights
. None of those are present here, and neither are Domino, Unholy
or Every Time I Look At You
. The sole concession to KISS’s later years is made by the inclusion, in some versions, of God Gave Rock’n’Roll To You II
; however, because of the difference in sound with respect to every other track, the song ends up sounding a tad awkward.
So now we’ve established that 90% of this album is “been there, heard that” fare, the main focus of interest are the added songs. The European version has a quite decent selection, with Cold Gin, Plaster Caster
and the aforementioned God Gave Rock’n’Roll To You
. However, the real winners here are Americans; I almost fell over when I saw that the US version had Flaming Youth
. We Europeans don’t get that gem, but we do get Black Diamond
for our troubles. Overall, all four versions are quite evenly balanced, even though in some versions, the random live insert is more haphazardly placed than in others.
The “regular” setlist is far more predictable, and only the inclusion of Goin’ Blind
and Shock Mer
really raise eyebrows. Do You Love Me
is here too, and it is a cute little song, but by no means worthy of inclusion in this sort of package. She
and Sure Know Something
round up the wildcards, and while I have come to appreciate a few strengths in the former (such as the rather kickass solo and drumming) the latter’s inclusion still feels like force-feeding. And of course, I Was Made For Lovin’ You
makes its inevitable appearance, although force of habit has more or less numbed me to it; now, I even manage to sing along to the inane verse lyrics, although every time I hear the chorus, I feel a few braincells die.
The rest of the tracks are megahits like Detroit Rock City
– ever dominant – Love Gun, Deuce, Rock’n’Roll All Night
and the original
version of Strutter
, which reminds us how much better it is than the ’78 re-recording. God Of Thunder, Christine Sixteen
and Hard Luck Woman
also make very welcome comebacks, as does the original recording of Beth
, which sounds a little too slow, perhaps because I’ve grown used to the live version.
At the end of the day, however, the problem remains: this brings nothing new to the table, and is little more than an easy way to make yet a couple million dollars more. If you already own Double Platinum
or any of the comprised albums, and are not a diehard fan, you don’t need this. A newbie could do worse than this compilation, but the fan-baiting live inserts and long-ignored tracks will be lost on him or her. This leaves Greatest KISS a not-bad compilation with a somewhat muddled audience. Enter at your own peril.
Detroit Rock City
Hard Luck Woman