Happy birthday Smashes! Thirty-five years… Wow, where has the time gone. Celebrating the release of Smashes, Thrashes & Hits seems strange. Afterall, it was a seeming stopgap following Crazy Nights and preceded a break in the group’s visibility while Paul Stanley headed out on his first solo outing. I was nowhere near any of that action, having moved to Singapore during the summer of 1988. It was neither a happy place nor happy time, adjusting to that environment following my raucous teen years in Binghamton with guns, dirt bikes, and … But I was still a Kiss fan. The music vendors, both in stalls at shopping centers and even the odd few “proper” record stores across Singapore, Kuala Lumper, Jakarta, and lesser cities in the region provided fertile hunting ground for the avid novice record collector. From my perspective, rock magazines were in short supply. In addition to a ban on chewing gum (a non-issue personally), Singapore’s censorship was hit and miss with that sort of printed material. Gotta protect the youth and all, but porn and drugs were more serious target for the authorities. So, I was surprised when I found the new LP in a store.
My initial reaction was, “wow. NEW KISS MUSIC.” And in my misery I wallowed in the magnificence of “Let’s Put the ‘X’ in Sex” and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard.” I decline to defend my tastes at the time. It was NEW KISS MUISIC. They were sickeningly catchy up-beat songs that had me table drumming after a pitcher or two of Tiger beer. They were singable, hummable, and got stuck in the brain. They were total crap, but a palette cleanser following the sugary pap of the previous album. And Paul had thankfully dialed down the vocals somewhat. I was fortunate to not see the supporting videos for some years, but they probably would have had little negative impact on me. In December, I was in England for Christmas, and between falling down drunk in every pub in Liverpool, I remembered to hit all the music joints that the good folk at Liverpool Uni knew. Same in Southport. My suitcase bulged with vinyl for my return flight. I added the British CD and cassette versions since it included a slightly different track-listing (“Crazy Crazy Nights” and “Reason to Live” replace “Deuce”). And the compilation remained in regular play for most of 1989.
It was a more simple time. I didn’t equate the album as a “Double Platinum” for my fan generation. I didn’t notice the “updating” done to some of the older songs, any more than, “that sounds good.” It was just a collection of Kiss songs that arrived at the right time. I didn’t think much of the album cover, literally or figuratively. I didn’t care much for Eric Carr’s take on “Beth.” I didn’t know how much he’d wanted an album lead. I didn’t know how far/close he’d come in the previous years. I only knew the original, and the new version didn’t do anything for me to remove the original’s sonic etching on my brain. I didn’t think anything was missing, I didn’t create lists of what I felt would have been a better sequence. I simply enjoyed it for what it was. Now in hindsight, I can pick it apart, dissect, and critique, but it is probably better just to get a pitcher of Tiger and table drum for an hour in ignorant enjoyment. Yet, 2X Platinum certified by the RIAA, it is officially the best selling album of the “unmasked” era.
You want to read an excellent dissection? Check this out! https://axeologyextended.wordpress.com/2019/11/06/get-up-and-get-your-remix-outta-here/