Kiss You All Over

Album: Mixed Emotions (1978)
Charted: 6 1

Songfacts®:

  • You don't see this very often: a #1 pop hit by a country group from Kentucky written by the leading glam rock songwriters from the UK.

    "Kiss You All Over" was the brainchild of Mike Chapman, who wrote and produced the song with his partner Nicky Chinn - the pair had scored hits for the likes of Sweet, Suzi Quatro, and The Arrows.

    Chapman moved from England to Los Angeles in 1975 (for a girl) and struggled to find his footing. He came across a band called The Exiles in a stack of demo tapes and liked what he heard. The group had been around for about a decade, but their only chart success was a minor hit in 1970 with "Church St. Soul Revival," a Tommy James cover. Chapman signed them to a management/production contract, changed their name to Exile, and wrote and produced a song for them called "Try It On," which made #97 US in 1977. He had trouble generating momentum for the band, but that changed when he came up with "Kiss You All Over" in a flash of inspiration. He summoned Chinn from London and Exile from Kentucky, and they recorded the song, which became a monster hit, shooting to #1 on the Hot 100, where it stayed for four weeks.
  • A very unusual song, "Kiss You All Over" combines elements of rock and disco, which was the stylistic sweet spot of 1978. It was the first song Mike Chapman wrote on a keyboard instead of guitar; the instrument could replicate strings, which gave him a new sonic arsenal.

    In an interview with Billboard, Chapman said: "It's a very unusual song and is very much about what music in the US is all about in 1978. It's MOR (Middle Of the Road) soft rock, slightly disco though not pure disco, and has a sensuous lyric line that Americans love. Americans are big lyric listeners and listen to every word."

    Those lyrics Chapman speaks of lay out some extended foreplay, as our hero promises to cover his lady with kisses "Till the night closes in." You can imagine what happens next.
  • Exile had trouble following up this song with another hit, in large part because their songwriter/producer team was separated by an ocean. In 1979, the band relased two more Chapman/Chinn songs as singles, "You Thrill Me" and "How Could This Go Wrong," but they made only #40 and #88, respectively ("Kiss You All Over" was the group's only UK chart entry.

    After a few years of chart, er, exile, the band focused on country music and found their groove, with ten #1 Country hits in the mid-'80s.
  • This song appears in the films Happy Gilmore (1996), Man on the Moon (1999), and Employee of the Month (2006). In Employee of the Month, two characters discuss the song after listening to it.
  • The Exile band members all came from Richmond, Kentucky. Originally called "The Richmond Exiles," founding member J.P. Pennington explained that their name was a reference to the boatloads of Cuban exiles fleeing the 1959 takeover of Cuba by Fidel Castro. Note that this is not the same event as the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, which is referenced at the beginning of the 1983 film Scarface.

    Speaking of 1980, that's when lead singer Jimmy Stokley, heard on the lead vocal of "Kiss You All Over," left the band and the remaining members reformed as a pop-country band, spending a year playing clubs before getting a new record deal.
  • The song has frequently been used as backing music for TV scenes involving various degrees of smooching or similar lip-caressing activities. Our award for the most creative use of "Kiss You All Over" goes to the Canadian Broadcasting Company's use of the song in a 2007 montage of hockey players kissing the Stanley Cup.
  • Country singer Trace Atkins recorded a cover version for his 2013 Love Will… album, which features the group. "That was a surreal day in the studio," Atkins reported to The Boot. "Being in there with guys that most of my afternoons, my senior year of high school after football practice, were spent in the drive in, shooting pool and playing 'Kiss You All Over,' and listening to that song play at least half a dozen times in the afternoon at the drive-in. That was a surreal experience to go in the studio with those guys."

Comments: 4

  • Sharon from Boston, MaI remember when DJ Charles Laquidara of legendary rock station WBCN-FM played this song on his morning show "The Big Mattress" and claimed that he got complaints from angry conservative listeners on how "dirty and suggestive" the song was. So to (allegedly) mollify his critics he played a "clean" version with the word "kiss" bleeped out everywhere it appeared in the song, which of course had the hilariously opposite effect.
  • Lance from Crescent Spring, KyThank you! I was always told that this song was recorded at my deceased father's recording studio and I haven't been able to find much info about it. This is the most info I have found.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaI'm an adult onset fan of this song. I remember when it came out new not being terribly impressed with it, but I heard it again a few years ago and loved it. Now it's among my favorites.
  • Zabadak from London, EnglandExile did the original version of Heart And Soul, later a hit for Huey Lewis & The News...
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