Kiss’ conscious decision to cross over from their hard rock roots to a radio-friendly pop sound didn’t sit well with their hardcore loyalists, who enjoyed the fire-breathing, blood-spurting theater of their live show but not the glossy harmonies and slick vocal effects that producer Vini Poncia brought to the group for their 1980 LP Unmasked. In retrospect, the smoothness here wasn't much of a stretch. Kiss always had one ear cocked to the memorable guitar riff and indestructible chorus. The addition of a few backup singers may tilt the balances ever so gently, but—the smooth glitzy groove of “Shandi” aside—much of Unmasked holds up as well as anything from the group’s prime 1973-77 period. “Tomorrow” is pure Paul Stanley firepower. “Is That You?” commands a thunderous rhythm. Ace Frehley’s “Talk to Me” and “Two Sides of the Coin” could’ve easily fit on his commendable solo album. The band may have been grappling for a public identity in a changing marketplace and a new decade, but their songs and performances here were up to their usual standards.