Release date: November 23, 2006

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

2006 has been a strange year for “Never thought that would happen” releases! With the likes of The New York Dolls, Cactus, and The Who all releasing strong new material for the first time in decades, it’s been an unprecedented year for bands on the comeback trail.

Add to the list: Paul Stanley. Back in 1978, Stanley, along with his Kiss colleagues, all released a solo album on the same day, a feat never before attempted and never since matched by any band. The results varied greatly in the quality control department, with Stanley and lead guitarist Ace Frehley’s considered the pick of the bunch.

Now, some 28 years later, it is time for Paul Stanley’s second solo album, Live To Win.

Seeking to avoid the ego-charged “Celebrity Guest” scenario that pervades many solo releases, Stanley has opted instead to bring in some lower profile, yet highly respected musicians, including Corky James (Avril Lavigne) on guitar, Victor Indrizzo (Beck, Macy Gray) on drums, along with appearances by his long-time Kiss bandmate, Bruce Kulick on bass, and John 5 (Two, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie) on guitar.

Stanley has also worked closely with a team of top class songwriters such as Desmond Child, Holly Knight, Marti Frederiksen, and Andreas Carlson, who between them have been responsible for writing songs that have sold millions for the likes of Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, and err… Britney Spears!!

To say that this is an eagerly awaited album by the ranks of the Kiss Army is a massive understatement. The pre-release hype has certainly fired up the hopes of Kiss fans worldwide, starved of new product by their heroes… and now the waiting is finally over, but does the album meet these high expectations?

Opening the album with the title track, “Live To Win,” Stanley nails his colors to the mast. A song bursting with energy and crackling with melody, Stanley boldly pushes his musical vision into the 21st Century. As promised, he has taken the essence of his 1978 solo album and brought it kicking and screaming back up to date with a modern edge. “Live To Win” possesses a chorus so strong and so uplifting that you can’t help but to be swept along with it. If ever there was a song crying out to be part of the next Rocky movie, then this is it. You can just see Sly pumping the pavements and pounding the gym with this song as his inspiration.

Following such an upbeat song was always going to be difficult but Stanley brings “Lift” to the table. The most contemporary of the songs on offer with its down-tuned delivery, yet it still manages to produce a stirring chorus with a hook big enough to bag Moby Dick.

“Wake Up Screaming” takes the “quiet verse, loud chorus” route, again with a strong contemporary feel with an almost Punky chorus, and yes, you guessed it, there’s another big chorus to boot.

“Everytime I See You Around” wanders off into power ballad territory a la “Forever” and “Everytime I Look At You” from his Kiss days, and could be the big cross over hit on the album. The same could also be said of the album’s other two ballads: “Second To None” and “Loving You Without You.”

Possibly the most Kiss-like song on the album is “Bulletproof,” which could have been lifted from the Hot In The Shade sessions, and features some fine female backing vocals.

Stanley himself is in fine form; his voice sounding better than it has in years, and thankfully jettisons some of the more histrionic elements of his 80s and 90s output, leaving an all together richer tone to his voice, and this excellent material benefits all the more from it.

“All About You” strikes home in a “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me” vein from his classic ’78 release, while “It’s Not Me” and album closer “Where Angels Dare” maintain the high standard to the very end.

Some have commented on the short length of the album. Who cares when what you do get is of such a high standard that all the potential flabby filler was left on the cutting room floor. It’s been a long time since an album has maintained such a high level of interest throughout, but Stanley has really succeeded with Live To Win.

Most Kiss fans know that Stanley is the song writing talent in the band, and it makes you wonder how the 80s/90s output from Kiss would have been if Stanley had been given the upper hand in writing and selecting material for those albums.

Live to Win will be greeted like the prodigal son to Kiss devotees, and may well be an album to break into a wider market… such is the strength of the songs and memorable tunes in abundance. This album could even become the Slippery When Wet of the Millennium if radio airplay is forthcoming.

Swedish Pop Rockers Roxette once said “Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus,” well that could have been written specifically for this album. There’s no waiting around, no repeated listens to discover hidden delights. This is the ultimate “immediate” album, pop it on and it reveals itself in its full glory right away… a sort of instant fix, if you like, and you know what, that’s just what the doctor ordered in a world of morose, characterless, and overly serious music.

Live To Win is the best Kiss-related release since the awesome Creatures Of The Night album back in 1982, and is a strong contender for album of the year … so please don’t wait 28 years for the next one!


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.