The merchandise machine that is Kiss has released a new album in their classic Simmons-Stanley-Frehley-Criss line-up last year, "Psycho Circus". Recently it's been re-released as a limited double CD with six live bonus tracks, so I figured I might as well shell out the dosh and get it. After all, otherwise it would be the only classic line-up Kiss album I didn't have.

What struck me first is that, unless I am very much mistaken, all the Kiss member pictures are actually from the seventies. It confirms the idea that, even with new material, this Kiss release is basically a trip down memory lane. Where the earlier albums - "Destroyer", "Love Gun" and the "Alive" albums - were good on their sheer status, "Psycho Circus" misses that. What you're left with is an album by four rock icons that is just quite OK really. Paul Stanley's voice has stood the test of time, but we already knew that. The album is a tad short, which is probably all part of the "let's relive the seventies" atmosphere.

The title song is pretty OK, and what follows are a few pretty good songs ("Within" and "Raise your Glasses", though the latter is rather poppy) and some typical Kiss sing-along anthems ("I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock'n'Roll" and "You Wanted the Best"). Anticlimax of the album is the "Beth"-alike "I Finally Found my Way", with strings and the whole ballad shebang. It's just too much for me, which also goes for the so-so ballad-type "We are One" (the titles already say it all, don't they?) . Strings can be used to good effect, as can be heard in "Journey of 1,000 Years". So there are highs and lows - not too high, not too low - on this album. It's not a vital addition to any Kiss fan's collection, but certainly a pretty commendable album.

The bonus CD, about as long as the actual "Psycho Circus" one, contains six tracks recorded last December in the States. Three old songs, three "Psycho Circus" tracks. The songs are OK, of course, but there's a drum solo and a guitar solo...perhaps a bit superfluous. On the first CD, incidentally, there's a Kiss screen saver. This is basically a "Psycho Circus" picture show with a variety of transformation effects, which is OK at best.



Written March 1999


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