Paul Stanley – Live To Win (2006, Universal/New Door Records)
- Live To Win
- Wake Up Screaming
- Everytime I See You Around
- All About You
- Second To None
- It’s Not Me
- Loving You Without You Now
- Where Angels Dare
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Background Vocals, Guitars
Corky James – Guitars, Bass
Brad Fernquist – Guitars
Harry Sommerdahl – Keyboards, Programming
Victor Indrizzo – Drums
Sean Hurley – Bass
Bruce Kulick – Bass
Russ Irwin – Keyboards
Greg Kurstin – Piano
Andreas Carlsson – Guitars, Background Vocals
John 5 – Guitars
Zac Rae – Piano
C.C. White – Background Vocals
John Shanks – Background Vocals
Total Time – 33:34
KISS has been my favorite band since I was five years old, that’s 29 years of diehard fandom. When I was a kid, all I wanted was to catch a glimpse of the band or buy their toys, etc. As a teenager and adult, I clamored for the music. KISS hasn’t released anything new since 1998’s PSYCHO CIRCUS, the album reuniting all four original members. Gene Simmons released a solo album, ASSHOLE, and it sucked! When the announcement came that Paul Stanley was working on his own solo album, I was excited to say the least.
My formative teenage years were during the 1980’s so the KISS I grew up with was the non-makeup KISS. This version of the band was basically controlled by Paul, his partner in greasepaint (Mr. $immons) off doing movies, producing bands, etc. The material that Paul created during this time was far better than his partner’s contributions as evidenced by sales, singles, and videos. This success, and the belief by many fans that Paul Stanley is/was the musical “soul” of KISS, has made the anticipation of LIVE TO WIN all the more higher.
On LIVE TO WIN, Paul has surrounded himself with a variety of accomplished musicians and songwriters in an effort to explore different styles and avenues of music. This a Rock album, bottom line. At times, some of the songs sound straight from the KISS Katalog (‘Bulletproof’, ‘Live To Win’, ‘Second To None’). Others have a modern contemporary vibe, reflecting current trends in the Pop Rock arena (‘Lift’, ‘Wake Up Screaming’, ‘It’s Not Me’). Paul’s songwriting for this album is different than his writing for KISS. Party anthems and sexual innuendo are replaced by life experience, relationships, and personal introspection. Writing an album of KISS-like material would have been the easy thing to do but Paul has created an album of emotion and feeling, using more modern arrangements. It’s a fresh look inside the mind of a true Rock icon, a glimpse of where the Starchild is in his early 50s sans the glitz and glamour. The songs are a look into his personal side and influences. Songwriter extraordinaire, Desmond Child, collaborates with Paul on more than half the album and it’s a great match. Child’s track record speaks for itself, look inside the ’80s KISS Katalog and you’ll find the Stanley/Child team at the helm of many a successful song. The songs are catchy as hell and I found myself singing right along after a few spins.
What is probably the strongest point of the album, aside from the songwriting, is the vocals. Paul sounds stronger now than he has since the Farewell Tour. I’ve seen every KISS tour multiple times since REVENGE (1992), and this is the strongest I’ve heard Paul since around 1996-1997. It’s not the same style, although the voice is totally recognizable. He has taken his trademark vocal style and has given a slightly more contemporary feel. More emotion less party, maybe Paul’s vocal training for his Canadian run of Phantom Of The Opera a few years back has made his voice richer.
I have played this album non-stop since 10:05am Tuesday, over twenty listens, and I’ve got to say that I really enjoy it. It’s very different from a KISS record but it sounds like one because of his distinct voice. Paul Stanley is a songwriter and a musician, he doesn’t pretend to be anything else. LIVE TO WIN is an expression of where he has been in life and where he is heading. An album filled with emotion and heart. This may not be a new KISS album but if this is the kind of music Paul Stanley continues to make than I am a very happy fan!