To celebrate the anniversary of Kiss' 1989 album Hot in the ShadeBruce Kulick – the band's lead guitarist from that era – is offering a track-by-track breakdown of the album on his official website. If you're read his features on albums such as Crazy Nights, Carnival of Souls and Revenge you know he offers smart, informative insights on the band's creative process.

He shares his notes on Hot in the Shade's opening track (and third single), the rousing "Rise to It," exclusively with UCR. You can check them out below, and the read his thoughts on the rest of the album's 15 songs right here on

"Rise to It," the opening track on Kiss' 1989 album Hot in the Shade (also known as HITS), starts with a slide acoustic guitar played by Paul Stanley. This taste of some swampy Delta blues doesn’t last very long, but for a band known for power chords and screaming vocals it certainly makes the listener ask: What’s up? Well this nod to the blues, which is such a part of rock ‘n’ roll, establishes the band’s desire to explore and acknowledge where its been, who it is influenced by, and where it’s going.

Once the track fully kicks in, you know you’re in the land of Kiss. Enter the Demon, sliding on the bass into the big drums from Eric Carr, while harmonic dive-bomb chords and riffs from yours truly set up the song perfectly.  Paul’s melodic vocals give him room to build into the exciting pre-chorus, followed by the catchy sing-along of the “Rise to It” chorus. A hint of the intro blues slide guitar part becomes the creative foundation of the music. It’s a swampy, ZZ Top vibe combined with testosterone from Stanley and company.

Watch Kiss Perform 'Rise to It'

Repeat the formula and then we’re off to the bridge, where Paul’s powerful wail sets up my fiery solo, which uses many tricks of the whammy bar and harmonics. It all sets up a big drum beat breakdown from Eric before settling back into the chorus out, with Paul having some wild fun with his voice over my outro guitar leads. The track establishes that meld of rock, blues, and sing-along vocals so special to Kiss.

After not hearing this track in quite some time, I was pleasantly surprised by the attitude and conviction of a band with much to prove. Crazy Nights was the last full album from Kiss prior to HITS, and it was produced by the famous Ron Nevison, who tailored the songs for radio and MTV. Was HITS a reaction to it, or a continuation? Track one says Hot in the Shade wants to be its own animal, and look out if you think otherwise.

Kiss was a band that was evolving and searching throughout the '80s, but with a new decade on the cusp of arriving, Hot in the Shade's 15 tracks served notice Kiss was going to be in the game, fangs sharp and ready to kill.


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