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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Paul Stanley

Live To Win

Review by Greg Olma

If you are a male and a Kiss fan, I think I can say with some degree of confidence that your favorite member of Kiss was either Gene or Ace. Gene blew fire and spit blood which made all of us think he was super cool. Ace was cool just because he seemed the most rock ‘n’ roll. Although I would never admit it back then, Paul’s solo album in 1978 was my favorite. I thought both Gene and Peter were clueless. Ace’s record was more for the guitar fan. Paul wrote the most Kiss like solo album. 28 years later, my opinion has not changed one bit. Anyone who purchased Gene’s solo record A**hole got a glimpse into how really out of touch he really is. Peter still can’t decide if he likes rock or big band music. Ace actually carved out a good solo career but based on “Live To Win,” it is clear that Kiss was really Paul Stanley’s music with Gene Simmons’ stage show. As a whole, Kiss were able to pull it off but when you take each member by themselves, you can see that Paul is the clear winner.

This album is pretty much what one would expect from Mr. Stanley. I read that none of the tracks were stale remnants from previous recording session but all new compositions. All the tunes are melodic rockers, even the ballads. The level is really consistent and really never dips. Sure, it is a relatively short album but 10 songs are all that is needed. The album flows better by not having any filler tracks. I had high expectations for this record and it does not disappoint.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Live To Win
This is a typical Paul Stanley anthem with a slight modern twist. The verses have that de-tuned modern sound but the chorus is very much a Kiss anthem. It is a great way to kick off the record with something old and something new.
Lift
There is more of a modern sound to this track but it does retain the hooky chorus. Unlike Gene, Paul uses modern music to greater success and this is proof of that.
Wake Up Screaming
My only problem with this cut is the drum sound at the beginning. It sounds like a drum machine. Aside from that, it is the best song on the CD. If you are not humming this chorus throughout the day, you must be dead.
Everytime I See You Around
If I had to choose my least favorite on the album, this would be it. It’s still better then half of the stuff that bands are putting out but compared to the other material here, this one just doesn’t hit the mark. It is very much like the power ballad “Forever.” If you like that tune, you’ll like this one.
Bulletproof
This one gets us back to the good stuff. It is a great catchy rocker with that Stanley signature sound. The back up vocals pay homage to the Dynasty era Kiss. Admit it; Dynasty is not as bad as we remember it.
All About You
It is time to go back to 80s Kiss for this rocker which has that sound that Kiss used in that decade. There are some newer elements like the effects on his vocals during the line “It’s All About You.”
Second To None
We get another “Forever” type ballad but this one I think is better than “Everytime I See You Around.” There is also a nice little guitar solo thrown in. The lyrics and style remind me a bit of some of Rik Emmett’s later day ballads.
It's Not Me
This is probably the most modern sounding tune on the record. It still has some of that Stanley sound so you would never be confused about who it is playing but it is the most out of place song here. That’s not to say it’s bad - quite the opposite. It shows he is willing to step outside his comfort zone a bit and experiment without losing any of the key Stanley features.
Loving You Without You Now
Paul Stanley could write ballads in his sleep. It’s good but I would have wanted less of them and more rockers.
Where Angels Dare
Even though I was told that all the songs are new, this sounds like a cut from his 1978 solo session. It’s a good rocker that ends this solid solo effort in fine fashion.
 
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