- Vinyl (May 6, 2014)
- Original Release Date: 2014
- Number of Discs: 1
Psycho Circus is the 18th studio album by American rock band Kiss. The album features the original four members back together and in full make-up. Some pressings featured a lenticular cover that alternates between a black Kiss logo and the album title with pictures of a clown and the band members, while the Japan initial first pressing featured a pop-up cover which had three foam spring-loaded panels of a clown face and two others with band members faces that popped out when the doors were opened. "You Wanted the Best" is the only Kiss song in which lead vocals are shared by the entire lineup.
Following the highly successful 1996-97 reunion tour, Psycho Circus was marketed as the first studio album by the band's original lineup since 1979's Dynasty (as Peter Criss did not participate on 1980's Unmasked). As with Dynasty and Unmasked, however, many of the songs were recorded by uncredited players. Ace Frehley and Criss were used sparingly, with Criss only playing drums on "Into the Void". Frehley played on two songs from the album (not including vocals). In 2011, in Frehley's book No Regrets, he says that he wrote a lot of songs for the album, one of those songs being titled "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Rock 'n' Roll". He mentions that the title and song were deemed very similar to the song "I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock 'n' Roll". "Into the Void" was originally titled "Shakin' Sharp Shooter" but Simmons and Stanley were unhappy with the lyrics and title so Ace Frehley went up to a separate room and rewrote it. The song "Within" was originally written and demoed for Kiss' previous album Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions and contains the original backwards guitar intro from the demo by previous Kiss member, Bruce Kulick.
In a radio interview with Eddie Trunk following his departure Criss stated that only "Into the Void" featured instrumental contributions from all four members. Regarding the lack of cohesion in the group at the time of recording, Paul Stanley stated "We tried to do a Kiss album, and it was an ill-fated attempt because there was no real band," and continued by adding "For a band to make a great album, it has to share a common purpose, and we didn't have it." In 2012, Stanley also talked about why the original lineup didn't play on the record, and that's because so many lawyers were getting involved and they just lost tolerance and told Frehley and Criss not to bother showing up. Although Stanley doesn't say whose lawyers were getting involved.
Bruce Fairbairn was brought to produce the album, and stated that he wanted to stay away from gimmicks and trends such as guest appearances, just "tried to stay true to what Kiss does best and people remember them for". The album was mostly recorded at Los Angeles' A&M Studios and One on One Recording Studios, with the performances being first recorded with analogue equipment, and then digitized for mixing and overdubs. Afterwards it was mixed by Mick Guzauski in his New York studio, and mastered by Fairbarn and Kiss' long-time partner George Marino at Sterling Sound NY. Fairbairn complimented the band for being collaborative, declaring that "it had the potential to be a nightmare because they're all disparate and strong characters, musically and as people."
It is sometimes assumed that Psycho Circus is based on the comic book series Kiss: Psycho Circus, which debuted the year before the album was released. However, while it is true that the album had not been conceived at the time the comic book was first published, Simmons claims that the "Psycho Circus" concept was originally created as a Kiss tour theme.
Psycho Circus debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, selling 110,000 copies in its first week of release, and was certified gold by the RIAA on October 22, 1998.
Rolling Stone said, "Psycho Circus is an album of platform-stomping rhythms, roller-coaster guitar riffs and sing-along choruses - is far more respectable than any of the awkward flops from the no-makeup years."Entertainment Weekly (9/25/98, p. 106) said, "This is rock with a capital R, captured in all its cheesy glory... This new effort proves that in the circus of hard-rock dinosaurs, Kiss remains its Barnum & Bailey." "Well up to the band's usual standards of corny hoopla," wrote Clark Collis in The Daily Telegraph. "Typical of the beast is 'I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll' – three and a half minutes of hilariously bombastic pomp-rockthat simply crushes thoughts of all post-glam musical developments beneath a silver-painted stack-heel boot."
|1.||"Psycho Circus"||Paul Stanley, Curtis Cuomo||Stanley||5:30|
|3.||"I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll"||Stanley, Cuomo, Holly Knight||Stanley||3:32|
|4.||"Into the Void"||Ace Frehley, Karl Cochran||Frehley||4:24|
|5.||"We Are One"||Simmons||Simmons||4:41|
|6.||"You Wanted the Best"||Simmons||Simmons, Stanley, Criss, Frehley||4:15|
|7.||"Raise Your Glasses"||Stanley, Knight||Stanley||4:14|
|8.||"I Finally Found My Way"||Stanley, Bob Ezrin||Criss||3:40|
|9.||"Dreamin'"||Stanley, Bruce Kulick||Stanley||4:12|
|10.||"Journey of 1,000 Years"||Simmons||Simmons||4:49|
- Paul Stanley – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass guitar (on "I Finally Found My Way" and the chorus section of "I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock and Roll")
- Ace Frehley – lead guitar, lead vocals (on "Into the Void", "You Wanted the Best", and "In Your Face")
- Gene Simmons – lead vocals, bass guitar, rhythm guitar (on "We Are One")
- Peter Criss – drums (on "Into the Void"), lead vocals (on "You Wanted the Best" and "I Finally Found My Way")
- Bruce Kulick – backwards guitar intro and solo (on "Within"), rhythm and bass guitar (on "Dreamin'")
- Tommy Thayer – lead guitar (except on "Into the Void", "You Wanted the Best", and "In Your Face")
- Kevin Valentine – drums (except on "Into the Void")
- Shelly Berg – acoustic piano (on "I Finally Found My Way" and "Journey of 1,000 Years")
- Bob Ezrin – Fender Rhodes (on "I Finally Found My Way")
|Chart (1998)||Peak position|
|Australia ARIA Album Chart||1|
|Austrian Albums Chart||25|
|Canada Billboard Top Canadian Albums||2|
|European Albums Chart||13|
|Finland Albums Top 50||5|
|German Albums Chart||5|
|Japanese Albums Chart||20|
|Netherlands Mega Album Top 100||51|
|Sweden Albums Top 60||1|
|Switzerland Albums Top 100||30|
|UK Albums Chart||47|
|US Billboard 200||3|
|Single||Chart (1998)||Peak position|
|"Psycho Circus"||Netherland Dutch Top 40||98|
|Sweden Singles Top 60||4|
|US Mainstream Rock Tracks||1|
|Australia ARIA Singles Chart||22|
|"We Are One"||40|
|Sweden Albums Top 60||31|
|"You Wanted the Best"||US Mainstream Rock Tracks||22|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone