Lick It Up, of course, was the album that introduced the world to a new, unmasked, Kiss. No makeup! And you know what? As far as eighties band photos go, the one on the cover of Lick It Up isn’t all that embarrassing. The guys are pictured on the cover wearing outfits that, relative to the scene at the time, were actually pretty tame. Sure, Vinnie looks like someone’s lesbian aunt Roxy, but hey, it’s all cool. Paul Stanley isn’t even pouting his lips (too much).
Lick It Up was the follow-up to 1982’s Creatures of The Night, an album that was supposed to be Kiss’ triumphant return to “metal” after some questionable musical choices. Unfortunately, Creatures Of The Night under-performed relative to Kiss’ expectations and thus, KISS felt that the time had come to take off the makeup, and light a fire under the ass of their sagging career. And indeed, the buzz created by this unmasking was enough to garner Lick It Up platinum sales, the first KISS album to do so since Dynasty (1979).
Vinnie Vincent’s presence was also important to the KISS “comeback”. Vincent had co-wrote a few of the songs on Creatures of The Night, and also played guitar (uncredited) on a handful of cuts on that record. He toured with KISS (in makeup) to promote Creatures Of The Night as well. But, Lick It Up was Vinnie Vincent’s first (and only) album as a regular (though not officially contracted) KISS member. Vincent co-wrote eight of the ten tracks on Lick It Up.
My Worthless Opinion: A mixed bag. As per usual, the best tracks are the Paul Stanley cuts. Gene’s sole purpose, it seems, was to make us better appreciate the songs he wasn’t singing. Rarely did Gene’s songs deliver quite like Paul’s. Stanley was the better singer and the better song writer. And Gene’s lyrics usually sucked. I understand that it’s rock n’ roll, and I love misogynist lyrics as much as the next guy, but Gene just comes across as down right creepy. Like Ted Nugent creepy. The man just reeks of incredible insecurity and over-compensation. I say this, not as a licensed medical professional, but as a student of the obvious. My favorite track on Lick It Up is All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose. That riff! Maybe the best KISS riff ever? Not sure who wrote the riff (the entire band shared writing credit on this track), but I assume it was Vinnie Vincent. I actually like Paul’s “rapped” verses, too. Even the somewhat racially insensitive first verse makes me smirk. Hey, its Paul’s world, we just live in it. Great video, too. And by that I mean that it is horrible and I love it! What else? Oh, there’s the title track. Another cool tune. It’s brazenly simplistic, but KISS pull it off (again, thanks to Paul Stanley). The biggest letdown of the album is that it ends with three straight Gene Simmons tunes. That’s not the way I want to go out. As for Vinnie Vincent, he was out of the band by the time they finished the Lick It Up tour. Apparently KISS realized that they had already reached their quota for assholes. My score: B+