KISS always calls for a good time. In other words, there’s hardly a KISS song that doesn’t put me in the mood to party. One album that gets me especially excitable is 1983’s Lick It Up. Reason being: it’s upbeat and heavy all the way through, and when I’m in the mood for a rock and roll binge, that’s exactly how I need it to be. From Exciter to And On The 8th Day, the energy intensifies with every beat, and it doesn’t back down for any sort of ballad break in-between. The songs are catchy, different and above everything else, they’re FUN!
Go ahead and call me goofy, but I love the look the guys are sporting during this phase. The “Lick It Up” music video is a perfect example of this loud, thrown-together decade. It has it all: the strut, the big hair, the leopard shoes, the tight leather pants and awkwardly high belts. And let’s not forget to mention the real stars of this video: the ladies. Once the army of babes who look like they’re ready to hunt rather than rock emerge from the sewer, you become fully aware that you’re in a special kind of KISS fantasy. Chicks are undoubtedly the KISS signature, and these ones are fiery! With the band’s sultry spray tans paired with the most interesting wow factor of all — their unmasked faces, you couldn’t look away if you tried. Even if you don’t agree with me and think the style choices are over the top, you have to admit it’s entertaining.
Lick It Up is definitely dirty, but honestly I’m not mad at it. With lyrics like: “love is sweet, so insane, come on lick my candy cane,” and even better: “when I go through her, it’s just like a hot knife through butter,” this album would surely get any uptight mother’s panties in a bunch. But this so-called “devil’s music” is simply how KISS rolls. It’s harmless, and there’s nothing wrong with getting a little frisky sometimes. Let’s face it, you can’t be a KISS fan without that kind of attitude.
There’s something in particular about Gene Simmon’s voice on this album that really gets me going. He sings as if he takes pride in the songs, and that to me is attractive. He keeps things interesting, and has the right kind of vibe for this kind of spectacle. On Not for the Innocent, he really belts it out, and the harshness of his voice makes the song for me. A couple more of my favorites off Lick It Up include, Young And Wasted (my weekend anthem) and All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose. These songs are relatable at this point in my life. When I don’t have to get up at 4:30 am for the KQ Morning Show, all I seem to care about is having fun and rocking out, and KISS makes me feel okay about that. And On The 8th Day is the perfect close to this album: as an old fashioned tribute to rock and roll that every rock enthusiast can’t help but sing along to.
For me, the only thing missing off Lick It Up is Ace Frehley. I absolutely love him and he just can’t be replaced in my eyes. Especially when the make-up’s off, I’m like, who is this new guy?! Just like today’s KISS lineup, for now at least, this album only features two of the band’s original members: Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Ace went his separate ways around the time of 1982’s Creatures of the Night. It goes without saying that Vinnie Vincent is a badass guitarist but it’s just not the same. Naturally I find myself missing Peter Criss too, but I actually think Eric Carr’s fast, spunky drumming fits well with this album.
Lick It Up is one of those albums that I’m either blasting in my car or doing my hair and make-up to before a concert. I like the fact that the music isn’t trying to say anything or make any kind of statement. It’s just rock and roll, plain and simple. It has a heavy sound and like most KISS albums, and it has a simple point — there’s nothing more fun than celebrating rock and roll music.