Paul Stanley - Live To Win
New Door Records
Modernized AOR
10 songs (33:05)
Release year: 2006
Paul Stanley
Reviewed by Jeff
Major event

Whenever an artist from a major rock band releases a solo album, the first thing I always question is whether or not the music will sound the same as or be an extension of the work they have already done with that band. Usually, a solo effort can represent a number of different things. It can be an opportunity for the artist to express themselves in ways musically that they might be limited to when they are part of a band. It can be a statement of sorts that says, "Hey, I don't need you" or "I can do what you do better". Whatever the reason is, there are countless of musicians that easily fit this scenario.

In the case of Paul Stanley , it's been almost 28 years since his last solo album; the 1978 self titled "Paul Stanley". So what could one expect from Paul Stanley after all this time? For me personally, I've always felt Paul's song writing in KISS to be the strongest and main staple that has carried them throughout the years. Don't get me wrong. I love Ace's, Peter's and Gene's material as well. But Paul Stanley has always had a knack for writing catchy tunes that seem to be the most memorable out of the four band members.

With all of this being said, I was hoping for another solo album in the vein of his first one. When I heard Paul Stanley say something to the effect that it's not 1978 anymore, I read between the lines for that to mean that this CD would be something different. Paul Stanley was quoted as saying that after 33 years in KISS, he felt that he and KISS were finally in a place where he could make his own music and do what he wants for a change. After listening to "Live To Win", it's quite clear that Paul Stanley has accomplished his goal. "Live To Win" represents a true labor of love and passion. It's an album that reflects on where things are now in Paul Stanley's life and his perspective on his music.

"Live to Win" is self-produced by Paul Stanley. He provides lead vocals, guitar and percussion alongside a number of studio musicians, including guitarist Corky James, drummer Victor Indrizzo and keyboardist Harry Sommerdahl. Also performing on the album are former KISS bandmate Bruce Kulick and guitarist John 5.

A majority of the song writing for "Live To Win" are joint collaborations with a number of seasoned composers within the music industry. While the track "Loving You Without You Now" was written solely by Paul Stanley, the remainder of the album reunites him with former KISS song writing partners Desmond Child [Aerosmith, LeeAnn Rimes] and Holly Knight [Tina Turner, Pat Benatar]. He also uses newer collaborators, including Andreas Carlsson [Bon Jovi, Britney Spears], John 5 [Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson] and Marti Frederiksen [Aerosmith, Faith Hill]. Seven of the ten tracks were co-written with Child and/or Carlsson, with Stanley and Child joined by John 5 on "Where Angels Dare", Frederiksen on "Lift" and Knight teaming with the frontman on "It's Not Me".

At times, the music has a darker, almost gothic feel to it. It's very modernized AOR type stuff; thick detuned chords, lots of backing vocals and harmonies with some electronic percussion sound samples thrown in here and there, keyboards etc. There is a good balance of up tempo rock songs and ballads. "Live To Win" contains a lot of catchy, memorable choruses that will stick in your head. The album clocks in at around 33 minutes so most of the songs will sink in very quickly. Paul Stanley provides a strong vocal performance, though his use of the falsetto is missing. I wish he had used some of that because it adds another dimension to the music. One aspect of the album that I do like is that it is consistent musically and not all over the place like Gene Simmons solo album "Asshole". If I had to compare the songs on "Live To Win" to those that were done with KISS or his first solo effort, I'd say they sound closest to ones like"Rock Hard (You Make Me)", "Let's Put The X In Sex", "Hold Me, Touch Me" and "Forever".

I strongly feel that Paul Stanley's involvement with different song writers and musicians has given his music a feel and identity that is unlike anything he has ever done, whether on his own or with KISS. He could have easily released another 1978 solo album or even something along the lines of past KISS records. I don't feel this is a true solo effort with all of the other writers and musicians that are involved. I feel it takes away from something he could have accomplished much more with that would have really proved what he can do on his own, but this was his choice. It's obvious that Paul Stanley is at a point in his life where he really doesn't have to prove to anyone what he is already quite capable of accomplishing. He has pretty much done what's been expected of him over the years. Now he has done something a little different and unexpected that will have your ears doing a double take!

Overall, I find the album listenable yet tolerable. If there was a song from this album playing on the radio, I'd probably sit through it until the end, though I don't think "Live To Win" is something that I can listen to over and over again on a regular basis. I really have to be in the mood to listen to this type of stuff. It's a CD that I don't think will receive extended play time from me nor do I think it will be something that I'd grab off of the shelf down the road to listen to with the same kind of interest that I would like the other material written by this rock legend. Then again, I seem to find something that I like about it more and more with each listen. It is what it is. The album is quite genuine and shows a maturity of sorts in Paul Stanley as a musician. I give Paul Stanley credit for trying something different, but I think that most KISS fans will be divided as to what they were expecting and what the final result is.



Killing Songs :
Bulletproof, Live To Win, Second To None, Where Angels Dare, Lift, Everytime I See You Around, Loving You Without You Now
Jeff quoted 70 / 100
Chris quoted 84 / 100
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