Every great rock and roll album tends to need a small miracle to even find its way into the world. For every great song on the radio, there’s an entire machine working behind it to make sure that everything’s in its right place when it hits your speakers. It’s not easy to make these records, but not every one of them necessarily comes from a genuine place either.
For all of the heartfelt records that have come from your favorite artists, these were the records that they had to make rather than wanted to make. Although the songs may have been decent going in, much of the production cycle for these albums were made either to fulfill a contract or just to make sure that the band still had the right to do what they wanted to do. It’s not every day that you actually have something good come out of that, but every now and again the magic can still find its way onto the tape.
Then again, there are also more than a few albums where you can tell that the band doesn’t really want to be in the studio with each other, either not being quite ready to come back to work yet or just getting sick of having to put up with the same people over and over again. So just remember for as good as these records might seem like as a whole, just remember that the band is more focused on the bottom line than they are about making their next masterpiece.
10. Unmasked - KISS
As the '80s got started, KISS were starting to go through a bit of a transitionary period. Though we were a long way from taking the makeup off, the band had almost gotten too big for their superhero alter egos, going down the disco route and losing a lot of fans in the process. The guys had to get back on track fast, and Unmasked almost feels like a slow attempt at course correction.
Compared to the glittery sounds of Dynasty, Unmasked took KISS back to something a bit more simple than what they were working with at the time, pulling from the same playbook that bands like Cheap Trick were doing, making songs that fit into more power pop realms than down and dirty rock and roll. Knowing their characters though, this is one of the few KISS albums that featured minimal singing by Gene Simmons, with his Demon persona not really gelling with songs like Talk To Me or Shandi, where Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley take the reins.
Underneath all of that makeup though, disaster was about to happen behind the scenes, with Peter Criss being dismissed from the band after not taking care of himself on the road and falling out of love with the kind of music they were making. Unmasked might be a quality record, but it feels more like an album that bridged the gap between the original foursome's glory days and some of the scattershot albums that would come later down the line.