|Paul Stanley Live To Win||Universal Music|
It's taken nearly 20 years, but Paul Stanley has finally delivered his second solo album. Being familiar with the passion of some Kiss fans, I have no doubt there are some out there that have been looking forward to this release since the week after his debut was available.|
Built up over the last year or so as the Kiss album Kiss never made, or the greatest album of whatever year it would be released, Paul's new album finds itself desperately needing to live up to pre-release hype and expectation.
I think Live To Win delivers to the believers, but will fall short for the uninitiated. It also wavers a little unevenly between styles, at times not sure which way to drift.
There is a lot to like about this album and overall, it is a very respectable piece of work. That said, there are obvious areas where things could and probably should have been improved, and then there is that question over the updated sound/production.
Paul has desperately tried to fuse the classic Kiss style with a full-on modern rock approach and on parts of this album it works, but who is he really trying to appeal to?
Kiss fans will buy anything and outsiders or casual fans will just be listening for great melodic songs.
I'm not sure anyone looking to buy this album would choose a modern rock direction over a more classic sound. And if Paul updated things to be more commercially appealing, then he is listening to the wrong people.
Thankfully the album does feature some very good songs.
Track By Track:
Kicking off the album in fine style is the title track Live To Win. The down-tuning is obvious from the first riff and the modern approach might have been of concern for some if a chorus from heaven had not punctuated proceedings.
You can't ask for a better or catchier rock n roll anthem than Live To Win, which blends modern production effects and guitar tones with Stanley's classic sense of knowing what makes a song great.
Lift takes a darker turn and emphasizes the updated production values even further. The fact the song remains at mid-tempo and the chorus isn't as instant as the opener means that it could be a take it or leave it track for some. But it gets better with each listen and makes for a good partner for the opening track.
When Wake Up Screaming kicks in, one could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Stanley has abandoned the classic Kiss style entirely. Loops, heavy guitars and effects provide the foundation, with Stanley's very likable voice providing the melodies.
I love the very melodic tone of the verse - raspy and stripped of layers - moving then into another great anthemic chorus.
Everytime I See You Around is both the first ballad of the album and the first reference to the sound and style that made Stanley a household name. This is a classy and classic Kiss style ballad that should please all fans. Added string orchestration bolsters the sound and atmosphere.
Bulletproof is the second almost-Kiss classic in a row. This track could have made an appearance on Revenge, Hot In The Shade or even Crazy Nights. It is classic commercial hard rock without the modern influences to scare off long time fans.
All About You sees Paul Stanley tread a thin line between the modern rock influences of the opening tracks and the more classic sound of the last couple of songs. Either way, the song has a good uptempo beat and a big chorus. Not that I'm overly impressed with the chorus…this to me is one of the more throw away tracks on the album.
Second To None is anything but throw away. This is one of the best ballads of the year and is classic Stanley at his finest, emotional best. A soft verse gives way to a monster chorus with soaring vocals and more orchestration. Perfect!
It's Not Me features more production samples and a half-way sound similar to All About You. Not a bad track and a good uptempo chorus, but another song that seems to go half way without fully committing. It could have been either heavier and even more updated, or more classic in style.
Loving You Without You is the third ballad of the record and another example of what Paul Stanley does best – deliver heartfelt songs with a positive message in a commercial melodic hard rock style that millions love.
Where Angels Dare is another strong uptempo commercial rocker. The song builds early to a strong chorus and finishes the album in style.
But, viewing what is on offer I would have to say that I think most Stanley fans will be happy. A solid and enjoyable album that proves Stanley is the creative force behind Kiss. This is infinitely better than the Gene Simmons solo album, but could have been even better still.
include("f-review.p3"); retrieve("ps-ltw",0,1); ?>