Smashes, Thrashes & Hits
Released in 1988 at the height of hair metal mania, Smashes, Thrashes & Hits makes a convincing case for Kiss as the band that bridged ‘70s hard rock and ‘80s pop metal. “Strutter” and “Shout It Out Loud” clearly set the template for bands like Ratt, Quiet Riot, and Poison, while newer Kiss songs like “Heaven’s On Fire” and “Lick It Up” sit comfortably next to the hallowed classics. The subtle remixing on “Love Gun” and “Detroit Rock City” makes those songs sound like they were released in 1986 not 1976. (However, re-recording Peter Criss’s signature song “Beth” with new drummer Eric Carr might have taken the band’s penchant for revision a little too far.) The two songs exclusive to this collection, “Let’s Put the X In Sex” and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” are unrepentantly lewd headbangers that show that these veteran hedonists were undaunted by competition from upstarts like Mötley Crüe. The fact that a little reverb on the drums is essentially all that separates ‘70s Kiss from a bestselling band like Poison shows just how far ahead of the game Kiss was.