KISS: Creatures of the Night

Creatures of the Night, KISS’s 10th studio album, was released in 1982 and remains a significant milestone in the band’s career. The album was also the last to feature Ace Frehley as a band member which he did not participate in the recording of the album, although his face still graces the album cover. 

The album still holds a special place in the hearts of many KISS fans, including me. It was the first KISS album I ever bought, I remember seeing their poster and hearing their popular song “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” which immediately caught my attention. but this is the first KISS album I bought and still love it loud till today.

Although Destroyer (1976) and Alive! (1975) or somethings fom mid to late 70s are the albums that come to mind when people think of KISS, Creatures of the Night stands out as a testament to the band’s ability to evolve and continue to capture the hearts of their fans. KISS proved that they were still a force to be reckoned with and hinted at a possible resurgence in popularity. Unfortunately, that resurgence did not happen.

Between 1975 and 1979, KISS enjoyed success both creatively and commercially. However, with the release of their hit song “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” the band encountered a turning point. As they entered the 1980s, they faced a series of setbacks and challenges that threatened to derail their career.

Their planned tour in support of Unmasked (1980) was abruptly cancelled, and the band experienced personnel changes as two members departed. Furthermore, The Music From “the Elder” (1981) , the band’s progressive musical experiments, were largely ignored by the public, leaving KISS in a state of uncertainty and doubt about their future.

Creatures of the Night

As KISS prepared to record Creatures of the Night, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were faced with two significant decisions.

First, Ace Frehley expressed his desire to leave the band, putting the group in a precarious position. The question of finding a new guitarist to replace Ace and create a new album was a significant concern. Would fans accept someone new, or would they long for the return of Ace? Compounding this issue was the departure of drummer Peter Criss, which had already destabilized the band. With Ace’s departure, KISS faced even more uncertainty and pressure to make the right decision for their future.

เThe second major decision involved their long-time manager, Bill Aucoin, who had been a critical part of the band’s success. Paul Stanley even referred to him as KISS’s “fifth member” in his book “Face the Music.” However, Aucoin’s reliance on drugs was beginning to impact his ability to manage the band effectively. This caused Paul to consult with Gene Simmons on the direction of the band before embarking on the Creatures of the Night album.

The decisions made by KISS’s founders, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, careful consideration of the band’s direction helped to maintain its creativity and popularity.

During this time, Paul Stanley had a discussion with Gene Simmons about revealing his identity by removing his mask and starting anew. However, Gene disagreed with the idea, and it was temporarily put on hold.

In 1980, Casablanca Records, KISS’s former record label, was sold to PolyGram by its owner, Neil Bogart, who had passed away during the recording of the band’s album, Creatures of the Night. This was the last album KISS released under Casablanca Records, and they decided to sign with Mercury Records, a subsidiary of PolyGram.

While making the album, KISS was unsure if guitarist Ace Frehley would stay or leave the band. With a gut feeling that he was on his way out, Paul and Gene began looking for potential replacements, and record with guitarists like Steve Farris from Mr. Mister and Robben Ford.

Eddie Van Halen was in the studio during the recording of KISS’s Creatures of the Night album when he heard Steve Farris soloing. Eddie apparently told Paul Stanley to pick Steve as KISS’s new guitarist, but Paul revealed they had already tried playing together and it didn’t quite work out.

It’s worth noting that Eddie Van Halen had a close connection with KISS at a certain point in time. Gene Simmons had produced Van Halen’s demo tape before they had even signed a contract.

After the failure of their experimental album Music from ‘The Elder’ in 1981, which attempted to ve towards art and progressive rock, PolyGram forced KISS to return to their classic rock sound and create a hit song. 

KISS brought in producer Michael James Jackson, who worked with the band for the next few albums. Jackson recommended Canadian songwriter Adam Mitchell to join KISS as part of their songwriting team, Adam Mitchell, a successful songwriter who had previously worked with artists such as Cher, Art Garfunkel, and Olivia Newton-John, was a newcomer to the hard rock genre when he teamed up with KISS.

Although he had originally written a song with Gene, it was eventually scrapped. However, when he started collaborating with Paul, they came up with two of the four new songs: “Partners In Crime” and “I’m A Legend Tonight.” were included on the compilation album Killers (1982), as a way for KISS to recover from the commercial disaster of Music from “The Elder” (1981). all the new songs were produced by the same team that worked on Creatures of the Night.

Adam Mitchell co-wrote several other tracks on the album, including “The Creatures of the Night,” “Keep Me Comin’,” and “Danger,” all of which were collaborations with Paul Stanley. Adam’s input was integral to the album’s success, particularly when he recommended Vincent Cuzano, who was also known as Vinnie Vincent, to Paul.

Vincent was not only a proficient composer but also an exceptional guitarist, and his skills added greatly to the album’s overall sound. He played the guitar solo on six out of the nine songs and co-wrote three tracks, including “Killer,” “I Love It Loud,” and “I Still Love You.” Vincent’s contributions added depth and complexity to the album’s sound, making it one of KISS’s standout releases.

The success of “Creatures of the Night” is a testament to the importance of having a talented and knowledgeable team when creating a successful musical project. Adam Mitchell and Vincent Cuzano were crucial members of KISS’s team, and their contributions helped the band to achieve their creative and commercial goals.

Gene Simmons also spoke about Vinnie’s guitar playing: 

I remember that Vinnie brought in Killer. We liked it, but he fought tooth and nail over the solo. Vinnie wanted to make every solo this massive thing. But Paul and I would bring him specific solos; we gave them to him and asked him to play them verbatim, but he refused.

I remember that Vinnie brought in Killer. We liked it, but he fought tooth and nail over the solo. Vinnie wanted to make every solo this massive thing. But Paul and I would bring him specific solos; we gave them to him and asked him to play them verbatim, but he refused.
“He didn’t want to do that, but honestly, everything that Vinnie did sounded like Yngwie Malmsteen on crack. You know, the kind of stuff that the rest of us normal human beings hate. It was ridiculous, and it certainly wasn’t Kiss.”

Upon reflection, it’s important to acknowledge that the decision to hire Vinnie Vincent as an “employee” rather than a full-fledged member of KISS may have had more to do with financial considerations than any personal issues between him and the band. While Eric Carr was considered a full member of KISS and shared in the band’s profits, Vincent was brought on as a hired gun, perhaps allowing Paul and Gene to retain greater control over the band’s earnings.

Another song writing team, Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams was a true meeting of creative minds. KISS ended up choosing them because Michael James Jackson’s recommendation, combined with Paul Stanley’s appreciation for Adams’ groovy track “Let Me Take You Dancing,” 

Bryan Adams wasn’t a big name in the US yet, even though he had two solo albums under his belt. But he really hit it big in 1983 with his album Cuts Like a Knife.

Bryan and Jim Vallance teamed up with Gene to write two killer tracks: “Rock and Roll Hell” and “War Machine”.

Jim Vallance originally wrote “Rock And Roll Hell” for Bachman-Turner Overdrive to use on their album “Rock ‘n Roll Nights” back in 1979. Jim was actually producing for BTO at the time. But when KISS decided to record their own version, Bryan and Jim gave the song a heavier tune that fit perfectly with KISS’s sound. It just goes to show how versatile song writing can be, and how a song can take on a new life with a different band.

as he says:

“I originally wrote the song for Fred Turner to sing (BTO). I was trying to tell Fred’s story. In fact, the lyric grew from some conversations I had with Fred. He was at a point in his life when he was burned out and discouraged, and not interested in touring. That’s what the original lyric is about. When Bryan and I wrote the new lyric for KISS, we were thinking about a young guy who WANTS to be in a famous band, and can’t wait for the chance to do a tour. In other words, the opposite situation from Fred’s. You can see what we’re trying to say in the first two verses of the song. The third verse was written by Gene.” 

Jim Vallance spilled the tea and said that the song he and Bryan wrote was actually awesome, but Gene Simmons rejected simply because he didn’t have his name on it as a songwriter. So, Gene wrote the third verse specifically to give him credit and secure that 10% royalty for him. 

Suddenly it dawned on us. Gene was trying to tell us, in not-too-subtle terms, that KISS wouldn’t record our song unless his name appeared as a co-writer. The choice was obvious: we could share songwriting credit (and royalties) on an album that would probably sell 10 million copies, or we could have no songs on the album at all.

Unlikely “War Machine” came to be, with all three songwriters write it together and sharing the credit equally and no hard feelings.

During the recording process, Paul and Gene had a disagreement that arose when Paul walked into the studio and discovered a group of teens singing backup vocals. It turned out that Gene had brought in some children of a film producer to do the backing vocals, potentially as a way to gain favor and open doors in Hollywood.

Furthermore, there were distractions during the album’s production, Gene had an romantically involved with at the time. Though it’s not clear if their relationship was on or off at that point, it’s been said that the drama of their situation may have caused some Gene’s distractions in the studio, notable bassists such as Jimmy Haslip from Yellowjacket and Mike Porcaro from Toto contributed to the album, playing on “Danger” and “Creatures of the Night”

After the recording, Ace even made an appearance in the music video for “I Love It Loud” and toured in Europe to promote the album. However, he later expressed to KISS that his involvement with the band was taking a toll on his well-being and that it could prove disastrous for both him and KISS.

For me, Creatures of the Night represents a turning point in KISS’s career. It was a time when the band faced several challenges, including a changing musical landscape and the departure of founding members. 

However, the album showcases the band’s resilience and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances. With the addition of Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent, KISS was able to create a heavier sound that appealed to a new generation of fans. Despite initial doubts about the album’s success, it went on to become a my favorite and a testament to the band’s enduring popularity. 

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