KISS – Psycho Circus (1998, Mercury Records)
1. “Psycho Circus” – 5:30
2. “Within” – 5:10
3. “I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll” – 3:32
4. “Into the Void” – 4:22
5. “We Are One” – 4:41
6. “You Wanted the Best” – 4:15
7. “Raise Your Glasses” – 4:14
8. “I Finally Found My Way” – 3:40
9. “Dreamin'” – 4:12
10. “Journey of 1,000 Years” – 4:49
Band *deep breath*:
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar; Lead guitar on “Psycho Circus”, “I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll”, and “You Wanted the Best”; Bass on “We Are One”, “Raise Your Glasses”, and “I Finally Found My Way”
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass, Rhythm guitar on “We Are One”
Ace Frehley – Lead Guitar (Credited as, but only actually played on “Psycho Circus”, “Into the Void” and “You Wanted the Best”), Lead Vocals on “Into the Void”
Peter Criss – Drums (Credited as, but only actually played on “Into the Void”), Lead Vocals on “I Finally Found My Way”
Bruce Kulick – Lead Guitar on “Within” (intro)
Tommy Thayer – Lead Guitar
Kevin Valentine – Drums
Bob Ezrin – Fender Rhodes on “I Finally Found My Way”
Shelly Berg – Piano on “I Finally Found My Way” and “Journey of 1,000 Years”
Produced by: Bruce Fairbairn
Wow, giving proper musician credit has always been a pain on KISS albums and this is no different. I love KISS, but how sad is it that that Ace & Peter barely even played on this “reunion album”? Instead we get future “Space Ace” Tommy Thayer playing lead guitar and Kevin Valentine on drums. Sheesh.
This was my second KISS album. My first was Alive II. At the time, I read Metal Edge magazine religiously and I was just coming into my own as a rock/metal fan and they were constantly running articles and interviews with KISS, hyping their live show and this upcoming album. So finally decided to check’em out during “winter” (not Christmas!) break of ’98 with Alive II when I had some extra Christmas $$$ to blow. Honestly, I didn’t care for that album and I remember my best friend (who knew nothing of KISS either) commenting, “this album sucks”. I hesitantly agreed and it almost ended my love affair with KISS before it began. Later, it would grow on me, but I still don’t think it’s anything special.
ANYWAY, back to this album, all of Metal Edge’s constant hyping convinced me to try some new KISS, having already sampled 70s KISS, and again, I was fairly disappointed with Psycho Circus. I soldiered on, thanks to the KISS remasters that came out around that time and soon became a huge KISS fan, but this one still stuck out as lackluster to me as “Psycho Circus” was really the only song where they knocked it out of the park. To this day, it’s one of my favorite KISS songs.
While I would occasionally sample this album, it was still fairly average in my opinion, but in time it’s grown on me a lot. It’s nowhere near being KISS’ best. It’s not a great album at all, but I can safely say (in my own mind at least) that it’s a good album. “Psycho Circus” makes a VERY strong start for the album, but the problem is, it was the best they had to offer on this album. Still, Psycho Circus is full of rock ‘n’ roll anthems and love letters from KISS to us fans telling us that they’re back and more larger than life than ever. I seriously doubt this album won over any new fans for the band, despite the fact that this album went Gold, but it’s a serviceable effort for the diehards.
KISS found a great producer in Bruce Fairbairn, who is one of my faves, and has worked with other rock giants such as Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Poison, Scorpions and AC/DC.
By the way, the company that held the publishing rights to Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” sued Paul Stanley & former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick citing “substantially similar” qualities between “I’m Eighteen” and the Stanley/Kulick-penned “Dreamin'”. The case was settled out of court.
Highlights: “Psycho Circus”, “I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll”, “Into the Void”, “I Finally Found My Way” (yes, it’s an obvious “Beth” ripoff, essentially “Beth Part II”, but I still dig it), “Journey of 1,000 Years”