Top 10 Peter Criss Kiss Songs
Peter Criss will always remain one of rock’s most recognized and popular drummers. As a founding member of Kiss, Criss donned iconic makeup to represent a character and look of his own creation, and that duly transformed him, not just from mortal human to immortal superstar, but into a bona fide superhero in the eyes of many young Kiss fans. And because like their idols, the Beatles, the four members of Kiss made a point of showcasing each one’s unique musical talents — at least to some degree — on their albums, we felt it fitting to recognize the Top 10 Peter Criss Kiss Songs.
‘Hooked on Rock ’n’ Roll’
We start our list of Top 10 Peter Criss Kiss Songs with this relative standout from the drummer’s much maligned debut. Though it was released under the familiar Kiss imprimatur, alongside his bandmates’ similarly appointed, color-coded efforts, ‘Peter Criss’ already showed the growing creative differences -- his love of classic R&B and romantic ballads and most importantly, a desire for more of the spotlight -- that would push him out of Kiss.
Now here’s a modest, but undeniably lovable Criss-helmed album cut we can categorically endorse, taken from 1974‘s sophomore Kiss opus, ‘Hotter than Hell.’ No, ‘Mainline’ wasn’t smash hit material and rarely reared its cat-faced little head in Kiss’ live shows, but there’s a fetching simplicity to Paul Stanley’s opening riff sequence (clearly inspired by Free) that we simply find impossible to resist. Hear for yourselves...
Peter penned this number himself with the help of perennial songwriting partner, Stan Penridge, and while it wound up overshadowed by another ‘Rock and Roll Over’ highlight we will get to further on down this list, ‘Baby Driver’ boasts an impassioned vocal that epitomizes Criss’ underrated, soulful style. In fact, you could easily make a case that the Cat was the best singer in Kiss, technically speaking.
‘100,000 Years’ [Live]
Peter Criss’ skills as a drummer have been subjected to serious (and often unfair) abuse in recent years, but none of that can erase the indelible memory of his rock-solid, workhorse display of percussive prowess on ‘Alive!’’s definitive version of ‘100,000 Years.’ Even if you can hardly recall Criss’ understated contribution to the song’s original studio recording, but on ‘Alive!’ he sounded positively Bonham-like!
‘Hard Luck Woman’
Perhaps no song (aside from the one you won't be surprised to find in the No. 1 spot) has been more closely associated with Peter Criss over the years than this jaunty acoustic folk song composed by Paul Stanley -- originally with none other than Rod Stewart in mind! But he wisely kept it for Kiss instead, handing it off for the Catman to sing as the first single from ‘Rock and Roll Over.’ This decision no doubt contributed to taking ‘Hard Luck Woman‘ (later covered by country superstar Garth Brooks) into the U.S. Top 20 and numerous international charts.
You can crow all you want about ‘Rock and Roll All Nite,’ ‘Shout it Out Loud’ and ‘Detroit Rock City,’ but, for our money, larger-than-life Kiss anthems don’t get any bigger or better than the superb ‘Black Diamond.’ And who is it singing lead vocals on there? That’s right, Peter Criss -- at least after the song’s composer, Paul, gets done quietly crooning the first verse and then cues Peter into action with a familiar “Hit it!” From that point forward, this cinematic epic about seedy inner city life is brought to life by Criss’ raw and bluesy delivery.
Well, what did you expect? Long after each and every one of us is dead and gone (all of us except for the immortal Gene, of course, who cannot be “unmade”), Kiss’ biggest career hit, ‘Beth,’ will be soaring on sweeping strings across the radio airwaves, web streams, and whatever it is they invent next! Peter Criss’ signature love song may suffer from a little of that overplayed ear-worm syndrome, and it doesn’t even represent the trademark hard rock Kiss sound, sure, but it’s bound to live on as the man’s lasting legacy, and therefore was an extremely worthy choice to crown our list of Top 10 Peter Criss Kiss Songs.