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Stanley, Paul: Live To Win

Of the four original members of Kiss, only Ace Frehley enjoyed a successful solo career. Go figure.

You would think that front man and guitarist Paul Stanley would have been the most likely to succeed. Well, Stanley ain't done yet. His second solo album in 28 years, Live To Win, is an instant charmer. He blends Eighties-era Kiss wannabes ("Bulletproof," "All About You") with modern, loop-laced rockers (the title cut, "Wake Up Screaming") and Evanescence-inspired mid-tempo ballads ("Lift"). He even employs a string section. Co-written with such collaborators as Desmond Child and Marti Frederiksen (both known for their work with Aerosmith), Holly Knight (Pat Benatar), Andreas Carlson (Bon Jovi) and John 5 (Rob Zombie), Live To Win is a warmly recorded hard-rock album, with Stanley's still-strong voice dominant in the mix. Stanley played guitar and percussion, and invited former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick into the studio as a guest. Like his 1978 self-titled solo debut (released the same day as records by Kiss mates Frehley, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss), it's another intimate record. Stanley even strikes an up-close pose on the cover (sans makeup) similar to the artwork for his 1978 platter. In short, Live To Win is a surprisingly appealing release that probably won't find its way onto commercial American radio even though it should.

That said, at less than 34 minutes, this disc could have used a few more songs. Even Ace wrote longer albums.

Track Listing:
1) Live to Win
2) Lift
3) Wake Up Screaming
4) Everytime I See You Around
5) Bulletproof
6) All About You
7) Second to None
8) It's Not Me
9) Loving You Without You Now
10) Where Angels Dare

Added: October 18th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Paul Stanley Web Site
Hits: 2879
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Stanley, Paul: Live To Win
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-10-18 12:29:31
My Score:

Paul Stanley of KISS is a man who needs no introduction as for over 30 years he has been the Starchild, a front man without peer, a legendary performer and the epitome of the words "Rock Star". Paul is truly a man who has done it all and now to the delight of his millions of fans he has recorded and released his second solo album of totally new songs. Fans of KISS need not worry about this being a cloned record of his career highlights or a revisit to the killer solo album he released in tandem to the other KISS members in 1978, but instead will find a tasty and well-produced Hard Rock recording. Entitled Live To Win, the album starts off with a positive message on how to handle ones life and it is a classic sounding rocker. The album itself is full of mixed feels and this is probably because of the various writers Paul had helping him. The presence of Desmond Child, a long time writing partner of Paul's is there and that is fine by me but I was left wondering why he felt the need to use other song-writers who are more geared to the contemporary Pop scene than to that of a classic Hard Rocker like Paul. Fans will not find the same impact on this recording like the old 1978 album, but this is because time and musical climate has changed since then. Songs like "Lift" sounds like something you would expect to find Evanescence doing but Paul's pure and powerful voice makes this style work. "Bulletproof" and "Where Angels Dare" have some KISS-like vibe ala their Crazy Nights or Smashes, Thrashes, Hits years with a sleek and polished drive and highly catchy lyrical content. The key that all listeners must be aware of is the fact that this is NOT a KISS record, and just new music from Paul. His band is largely studio players but he also has former KISS band mate Bruce Kulick and John 5 handling some guitar. On the coming tour Paul will have the "House Band" from the hit television series Rock Star: INXS & Supernova. That should be exciting since those guys could play.

Other numbers that should impress the Paul fanatics would be "All About You" and given that this is one of the harder rockers on the release it should be a quick favorite for those that yearn for the heavier stuff. Ballad fans might enjoy the two inclusions in "Everytime I See You Around" and "Loving You Without You". The big question is will this album find the same appeal in the world outside of the KISS realm and while the music tide is an ever-changing beast I think there is a strong possibility in this happening. It's a good effort from a very talented and worldly musician who is admired by more people than one could possibly count. Live to win, it's a good idea so let's try to do some of that while we can.

» Reader Comments:

Stanley, Paul: Live To Win
Posted by Hugh Dark on 2006-11-16 12:23:57
My Score:

I was very curious about this release and how it was going to sound. I didn't have much to loose as it was only $9.99, but I came away very disappointed. The whole production is just to cold and calculated and at just over 30 minutes you don't much room for mistakes. When you listen to the Evanescence inspired Lift and hear how he drags out the syllables: "I hear the howling of the wind that's cryin' out your name" it is just plain awful. It is so deliberate, monotone and over-practiced it just as well may have been a robotic sample. If it is the forlorn metaphor he is going for, he fails in that regard as well. Another instance of thinking a little to much is in Wake Up Screaming. The way Paul tries to sing in that hoarse voice; that's obviously "hoarse" from screaming, is dreadful! When he does his little a cappella thing at the end of the song; I just started laughing! He would be better singing in a voice that is not so self-conscious and emotion that is suited more with the cause than the effect.When I looked at the writing credits and seen that Desmond Child wrote half of the record with him; I was disgusted. He is still not over his "Did Jon(Bon Jovi) do it?" phase. Just listen to All About You and you would swear that it was Have a Nice Day. No kidding! The lyrics are nothing to write home about either. Just read the sap in Second to None and you know that he must be writing about his new wife's insecurities about being married to such a "hot" star. No Paul, you will never be in the top tier of famous singer/songwriters whose fanbase transcends generations and work is considered important. Now remember, I am referring to "top tier" performers! I am a fan of P. Stanley's, but I am also a realist. On a positive note Bulletproof is an excellent track. It is enthusiastic and well performed, yet it has a lame guitar solo. He should have had Bob Kulick(the 5th Kiss) play on this record. The song has excellent backing vocals that recall the '78 era and maybe a litle bit of Siverspoon from Hot In The Shade. In this song he is doing what he does best; without all the selfish pretense, and bringing it on home in full rock regalia! In closing, I believe that the reason this cd is so short is that he recorded enough material for two releases. I would not be surprised if another cd comes out with the second installment of Kissology.

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