Tuesday, March 11, 2014

KISS By The Numbers. Which Lineup Carries The Most Significance... Seriously.

Whether it was Bruce Kulick on the Arsenio Hall show in 1994 snarking that he’s been in the band longer than Ace and he’s still the new guy or more recently when Paul used the fact that the current lineup has been together almost as long as the original 4 members of KISS were as an excuse not to perform with Ace and Peter at the ROR HOF induction ceremony.  It has, from time to time, been said that KISS without Ace and Peter has been more relevant.  Typically using calendar years as evidence of significance. 

Let me state for the record that I find this to be a minority opinion and typically voiced by Gene or Paul.  I don’t feel that way for sure.  But it is not a fringe opinion.  As someone who considers himself to be an expert in all things KISS I can tell you that there has always been a segment of the fan base that fully supports whatever the current lineup is and any decisions it makes and products it releases.  To the extreme they feel the need to defend it.  I think they should’ve stopped after the reunion tour.  That’s my opinion.  There are fans of KISS that upon reading that sentence have already decided I hate the current band.  Which not only isn’t true it isn’t what I said.  What can you do?

I’ll tell you what you can do.  Take opinion out of the equation.  KISS as it is started performing in 2003.  On paper that’s just over 10 years.  The original band started in 1973 and Peter was officially out of the band in 1980 which is barely 7 years.  Sure they reunited for 5 years from 1996-2001 but they never did 10 years straight.  Plus there’s no reason to think this lineup won’t keep going at least 2 more years.  Toss in Eric’s years with the band before the reunion and it’s pretty clear.  The current lineup is more legit, more important and by default the more significant. 

But shouldn't the question be what did any lineup do with their time?  How productive were they?  What did Bruce Kulick really contribute to the legacy of KISS?  How important was the addition of Eric Singer in 1992?  And how does the current lineup truly stack up to previous lineups.  From 2003 to now, the current lineup has released a whopping 2 studio albums of new material.  The original four released their first two records in 8 months.  In the last decade both Gene and Paul have released solo albums and written books.  They started their own restaurant chain and purchased an arena league football team.  Paul did a solo tour and released a DVD all while he pursued his art career as a painter.  Gene had a reality TV series, started an advertising agency and Eric Singer found time to do a few tours with Alice Cooper as well as with his own project ESP.  By way of comparison Ace Frehley got shit for skipping out on a recording session to play cards with some friends. 

The point is simple.  10 days of inactivity in KISS are not equal to 1 day of productivity.  Time alone is an inaccurate and misleading way to measure significance.  In this instance anyway.  So I came up with a point system to determine what version of the band delivered the biggest bang for the buck.  I call it… BLOKE (or Bakko’s Law Of KISS Equation.)  It works like this.

Years in the band – 2 pts. Per year

Studio Albums – 5 pts. Per album

Live Albums – 3 pts. Per album

Shows Played – 10 Shows = 1 pt.

Album Sales – 100K = 1 pt.

Years with no tour/no album – 1 year = -20 pts.

And probably the most revealing statistic.

Songs in the current setlist – 1 pt for every year since release (ex. Deuce = 40 pts.  Hell or Halleluah = 2 pts)

As you see I not only give points to things like “years of service” and “shows played” but I felt it necessary to take points away for years of inactivity.  You can't give 1976 the same score as 2006.  3 tours and 2 albums vs. none of either.  My criteria for “inactivity” is the absence of a proper tour or record release.  A proper tour is considered a minimum of 25 dates in no more than 60 days.  I also felt the songs that are currently in the set list should be weighted giving points for longevity.  And I gave no points for the barrage of repackaging of previous material in the form of all the greatest hits, live etc albums that came out the last decade.  Also with the Ace and Peter in/out of the band in 2002-2003 I gave neither credit for those years.  For the sake of this equation 2003 is the start of the current lineup.  I also figured the powers that be chose to present Unmasked as an album with Peter Criss so I gave him credit for that.  I used the same reasoning for Ace on Creatures.  I did not overlap any members.  I used my best judgment when doing so and I didn’t award any points for the 78 solo albums, Best of Solo or Killers.

The Original lineup of Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace came in the highest with a BLOKE score of almost 734 while the current lineup of Gene, Paul, Eric Singer and Tommy came in last with a BLOKE score of 11 pts.  Even if you were to remove the penalty for years of inactivity they would still come in a distant third to the lineup of Gene, Paul, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick which was officially together 7 years and just slightly ahead of the much maligned and short lived lineup of Gene, Paul, Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent.  Which lasted barely a year, which I’ve been told is much less than the 10+ that Paul tells us the current band has been together. 

What does this really tell us.  Quite simply, that KISS was far busier in the first 7 years than the last 10.  And there are reasons for that.  When you’re young and hungry you have the time, drive and energy to do more.  Your working toward a goal.  It also tells us that this was when much of the music they still play was written and recorded.    Whereas the current lineup took a break from late 2004 until mid 2008.  Gene and Paul spent time working on many other things leaving Tommy to focus on the bands legacy which I would say he did brilliantly with the KISSOLOGY releases.  But the only time they came close to achieving the success and dominance of the band from 1976-1979 was when they reunited in 1996.  I have only one point.  It’s ridiculous to say or imply that the current lineup or any lineup that doesn’t include Ace Frehley and Peter Criss has ever approached the same level of significance.  You may prefer the Crazy Nights band but without the original band, that band doesn’t exist. 

Also, you can’t compare Ace and Peter to Tommy and Eric.  Or Bruce, Mark, Vinnie and Eric Carr.  Being a founding member of a band that achieved the heights that KISS did is nothing like being a contracted employee of that band after the fame has been achieved.  Unless your name is Vinnie Vincent, you’re not going to have the same level of entitlement as a hired musician as you would as a founding member.  You will not have the personal or emotional connection.  We’ll never know how Bruce Kulick would’ve dealt with the Gene and Paul power play that started to take place towards the end of the original bands run, or how Eric Singer would feel seeing another person wearing the makeup he created playing his part in the band, or how Tommy would’ve approached the Elder sessions or even how Ace would handle being in the role Tommy is in right now.

KISS has for many reasons endured into their 5th decade.  That would never happen without Paul Stanley.  If you want to talk real significance it's Paul.  They may have had their ups and downs but without him there would be no need to discuss which lineup did what.  Gene is largely the most famous face in KISS and if you’ve listened to Paul the last decade its clear he has grown tired of the Demon garnering the lion’s share of attention for the work he put in.  Not that Gene hasn’t been a large part of the bands success.  It’s just that starting in 78’ he has checked out from time to time.  So take a bow Paul.  YOU more than anyone you’ve shared a stage with has earned it.  You also earned the right to play with who want and call it KISS.  But at some point you should realize you won.  Minimizing any of the lineups contribution doesn’t make the current one seem better.  It just makes you sound bitter.  Gene spews so much bullshit out of his mouth I figure most people can’t tell the difference between him and Ted Nugent.  As for the BLOKE scores, actual tallies are below.  Bring on the hate mail and math corrections.        


Original Lineup

Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter

1973 – 1980; 1996-2001 = 12 pts

Studio albums – 9 = 45 pts

Live Albums – 3 = 9 pts

Shows Played – 1018 = 101.8

Records Sold* – 17 million. = 170 pts

Years with no tour/no album – 0 = 0 pts

Songs in current playlist – 11 (396 total years) = 396 pts

Total Points – 733.8


Lineup 2

Paul, Gene, Ace and Eric Carr

1980-1982 = 2 pts

Studio Albums – 2 = 10 pts

Live albums – 0

Shows Played – 42 = 4.2 pts

Records Sold – 1 Million = 10 pts

Years with no tour/no album – 0 = 0 pts

Songs in current playlist – 2 (22 years) = 22 pts

Total Points – 48.2

Lineup 3

Paul, Gene, Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent

1982-1983 = 1 pt

Studio albums – 1 = 5 pts

Live Albums – 0 = 0 pts

Shows Played – 150 = 15

Records Sold – 1.2 million. = 12 pts

Years with no tour/no album – 0 = 0 pts

Songs in current playlist – 1 (21 total years) = 21 pts

Total Points – 54

Lineup 4

Paul, Gene, Eric Carr and Mark St. John

1984 = 1 pt

Studio albums – 1 = 5 pts

Live Albums – 0 = 0 pts

Shows Played – 2? = 0 pts

Records Sold – 1.2 million. = 12 pts

Years with no tour/no album – 0 = 0 pts

Songs in current playlist – 1 (21 total years) = 21 pts

Total Points – 39

Lineup 5

Paul, Gene, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick

1984-1991 = 7 pts

Studio albums – 3 = 15 pts

Live Albums – 0 = 0 pts

Shows Played – 462 = 46.2

Records Sold – 5.2 million. = 52 pts

Years with no tour/no album – 1 = -20 pts

Songs in current playlist – 1 (24 total years) = 24 pts

Total Points – 124.2

Lineup 6

Paul, Gene, Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer

1992-1996 = 4 pts

Studio albums – 2 = 10 pts

Live Albums – 2 = 6 pts

Shows Played – 79 = 7.9

Records Sold – 2.1 million. = 21 pts

Years with no tour/no album – 0 = 0 pts

Songs in current playlist – 0  = 0 pts

Total Points – 48.9

Lineup 7

Paul, Gene, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer

2003 - Current = 11 pts

Studio albums – 2 = 10 pts

Live Albums – 0 = 0 pts

Shows Played – 360 = 36 pts

Records Sold –500,000 = 5 pts

Years with no tour/no album – 3 = -60 pts

Songs in current playlist – 3 (9 total years) = 9 pts

Total Points – 11 pts

*Album sales courtesy of GreasyLake.org


  1. The most telling stat? Songs in current setlist. First lineup has over half, i.e. more than the other lineups combined. And let's start asking folks their favorite KISS songs, or casual fans to non-fans what songs of KISS they know. See which lineup comes out on top in those polls.

    1. Someone's done that for us. As voted for by the fans.

      -SATM (Not sure why it's showing up as anonymous)

  2. Current Lineup 500,000 records sold? you sure? I was thinking maybe 75,000 at the most.

  3. Keep in mind the original release of Monster included a second disc which meant every sale counted as two. Kind of inflates the number but I gave it to em. But both sold 100K plus the first week.

  4. Umm, Bakko - Monster was a single disc and ended up selling about 300k in the US plus the sales outside the US.

    Sonic Boom was a three-disc set but each sale counted as one unit only and it sold over 380k in the US. So the number of albums sold for the current lineup is even higher.

    No discs inflated the numbers.

    1. Correct. Sorry I meant Sonic Boom. I always confuse those two records. It is credited as a two CD set with a bonus DVD. Meaning each unit sold counted as two per RIAA standards going back... well to the beginning of RIAA. Regardless, I gave them credit for RIAA sales just as I did the 70's lineup for ALIVE, ALIVE II and Double Platinum. In other words, the numbers in the article reflect the inflated numbers. But thank you for correcting me on the album title... Anonymous. If that really is your name.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.