Paul Stanley

Live to Win

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Despite what some may believe, Live to Win is not Paul Stanley's solo debut. That honor goes to 1978's Paul Stanley (which was released in conjunction with solo releases by the three other Kiss members), an album so Kiss-like that the singer's full-time band could have easily stamped their logo on it and issued it as the studio follow-up to 1977's Love Gun. Nearly 30 years later, Stanley is ready to step out on his own again, and this time around, it's not the arena anthems you'd expect. In its place is a modern-day mainstream pop/rock production, which effectively smoothes out all the rough edges. In fact, the title track would sound perfect sung by an American Idol finalist (or wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Fame), while the ballad "Loving You Without You Now" treads dangerously on Barry Manilow territory. Elsewhere, mainstream pop/rock reins supreme ("All About You," "Wake Up Screaming," "Where Angels Dare," etc.). Despite the fact that much of this material will leave longtime fans of "Detroit Rock City" and "I Stole Your Love" scratching their heads as to where the cojones went, there's no denying that all these years later, Stanley is still in fine voice. A little more grit and much less polish would have certainly helped here.

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