"Live to Win" (NewDoor Records; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I've always considered Paul Stanley to be the strongest musical force behind Kiss. Don't get me wrong: Gene Simmons has written some great songs, Ace Frehley has inspired an entire world of new guitarists and even Peter Criss, Vinnie Vincent, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer and just about anyone else involved with Kiss have given something of value to the hard rock / heavy metal genre.

But Paul's songs were always the most melodic and always had the most irresistible choruses. His vocals were by far the best in the band and he could step in, when necessary, and play a lead riff or two. 

So, with the lack of any new Kiss recording in the near future, I was looking forward to Paul's new solo album, his first in 28 years. And I wasn't disappointed. A little surprised, maybe, but not disappointed.

"Live to Win" is a collection of songs that don't sound so much like Kiss and, in fact, don't sound much like Paul's solo album of 1978. There are comparisons to be drawn: the CD consists mostly of the love songs that Paul is known for and the harder rocking songs are still heavy with melody. Plus, Paul's vocal style is unmistakable (and in fine form here as well). What makes "Live to Win" different, however, is Paul's success at writing, producing and recording an album that has a more modern sound than any Kiss CD. 

And that's a double-edged sword here. On one side of that sword, "Live to Win" features a lot of solid, radio-friendly rockers with irresistible melodies and singalong choruses. They don't sound like the Kiss hits of yesteryear, but rather more like the modern hits of today's rock radio. On the other side of that sword, however, longtime Paul Stanley and Kiss fans may find the lack of anything as hard as, say, "Love in Chains" (from the first solo CD) on "Live to Win" a little disappointing. 

Lyrically, the CD shows real growth by Stanley, with lyrics straying away from mere sex and exploring the much more sophisticated world of real emotion.

Without question, the best song here is "Bulletproof," a fast-paced, hard rocking number that instantly sets its hooks into your musical mind, but there isn't a dud to be found anywhere, assuming the more personal style of this disc doesn't turn you off from the onset. 

Fans of solid pop rock in the tone of Bon Jovi will fall in love with "Live to Win." 

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"Live to Win" (NewDoor Records; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Paul Stanley’s second solo project, "Live To Win," is a mixture of Kiss-like ballads and soft, guitar-driven rock. 

My opinions on Kiss founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are very well noted throughout the pages of Rough Edge (they're in it for the cash, the music is way down on their list of priorities). As for Paul's latest attempt: I found the entire CD lacking any substance whatsoever. With the exception of one or two, come to think if it, only one ... track, "Live to Win" would be a total waste to time. 

I know that Paul is supposed to be the more "musical" of the two, but I found "Live To Win" trite and boring. This would be a mediocre Kiss release at best. The only thing lacking would be Eric Singer’s drums and Bruce Kulick’s guitar and even those wouldn't help this recording much. 

I can't even use it for a coaster, because I borrowed R. Scott Bolton's copy and I don't think he'd appreciate that.

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"Paul Stanley" (Casablanca; 1978)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Paul Stanley's 1978 solo album, released at the same time as the other three members of Kiss, might not have been the best-selling of the four (that would be Ace Frehley's), but it was the most musically successful and the most Kiss-like.

Balanced almost perfectly between hard rocking tracks ("Tonight You Belong To Me," "Love In Chains") and the love songs that Stanley was best known for ("Hold Me, Touch Me," "Take Me Away (Together as One)"), Stanley's solo disc gave the fans what they wanted while, at the same time, acting as a showcase for Stanley's considerable talents.

The original Kiss was a band of four distinct, and equally important personalities. Paul Stanley's solo album stood out as the one that told fans the most about the artist while retaining the hard rock sound that Kiss was so successful with. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:21 -0400.