A Music Snob’s Look at Kiss

I have a confession to make.

I used to really love Kiss, you guys.

I have them in vinyl, toy, CD, MP3, and -at one point- in comic book form. I was super-bummed out by the fact they announced they were calling it a day (and bewildered by the fact they just kept playing about a month later). During my formative years, Kiss was my fucking life ever since I picked up (okay, okay, begged my parents to buy) “Psycho Circus” many, many years ago.

Then I grew older and… kinda forgot about them. I mean, they were still cool (and kinda still are), but I just lost interest. Perhaps not aided by the fact the internet fucking happened and a whole musical world opened up to me by way of Limewire (you kids these days have it easy. We had to give our computers AIDS to get free music), nor aided by the fact Gene Simmons is a massive toolbag.

So I thought it’d be fun, interesting, (and perhaps a nice change for those who’s music tastes I shit on regularly) to look back at my past, at something that -at one point- was a big fucking deal to me, and see if it still holds up to the test of time.

THE ARTIST

You probably know them, I wanted to be them. Women still -somewhat inexplicably- want to fuck them. I mean, they’re fucking Kiss! What more can I say?

Formed in the 70’s by Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, Kiss trudged along until the release of “Alive!” which brought the excitement and energy of their stage shows to the CD format. Bolstered by 1976’s “Destroyer”, Kiss were formally part of the rock n’ roll lexicon. Equal parts the bite of bluesy hard rock and the fanfare of glam rock, Kiss -for a time- were one of the biggest bands in the world…

…And then they squandered that by bringing out a bunch of dud albums, kicking out Criss and Frehley, and took the makeup off for a while. there was the occasional release such as “Revenge” which kept them in people’s minds, but they were not the untouchable rock gods they once were.

Prompted by a surprise appearance of Criss and Frehley at an MTV unplugged show, the original founding members reunited, toured all over the world and released… another dud album, “Psycho Circus”. I mean, I liked it, but I was young and didn’t know any better.

Nowadays they’re still trudging along and playing shows, and recently released “Monster”.

THE MUSIC

Coming from a band formed in the 70’s, expect bluesy rock jams, power ballads, songs about fucking, all the fun stuff. Since their inception, whilst their sound has evolved somewhat, not a lot has particularly changed. “Destroyer” is still the fucking tits, though.

SONG-BY-SONG

It’s hard to really pick a small handful of songs, here. With such a huge body of work and different iterations of the band, there’s an even mix of good and not-so-good songs. But I’ll do my best to keep this as concentrated as possible.

I Was Made For Loving You

Even if you’re not a fan of hard rock, you know this song. Kiss goes Disco, and it shows why Disco fucking died in the first place.

Deuce

Off of their debut, “Deuce” goes alright. Still definitely holds up. Way better live

Detroit Rock City

Kicking off their magnum opus “Destroyer” and promptly butchered by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, “Detroit” fucking goes off live and is an impressive effort when listening normally. Totally sets the tone of the album and the band’s then-developed and matured sound

Strutter

If there was a litmus test for whether you’re going to like these guys or not, it’s “Strutter”. This is Kiss in a nutshell. For the love of god, though, avoid the remix “Strutter ’78” off of their compilation “Double Platinum”. Keep your ears pure. Stick with the original.

Rock n’ Roll All Nite

The other song everyone knows. Much like “I Was Made…”, catchy dreck without the disco. Once an anthem for the people, it’s just hokey now. Again, better live.

Unholy

Off of arguably their best “unmasked” album, ‘Revenge’, this is one of the best Kiss songs, and one of the best songs Gene Simmons ever put vocals to.

Lick it Up

There was only a few good songs off of the “Lick it Up” album, and this isn’t one of them. Avoid. Watch the music video for the cringe.

God of Thunder

Look, all of “Destroyer” is pretty fucking good, alright? Just go listen to it. I don’t, never did, and probably never will understand the random kids in the song, but whatever. Still good.

Love Gun

Hokey, but good hokey. It’s about Paul Stanley’s dick. What more can I say?

OH WAIT. Frehley’s solo work here is amazing. That too.

Sure Know Something

Another one off of Dynasty. It’s also not great.

War Machine

One of the hidden gems from “Creatures of the Night” Some tasty, tasty riffage can be found here. Why this never got its due I don’t know.

Psycho Circus

….Yeah okay. This still goes off. I still fucking love this song. Shame about the music video.

Calling Dr. Love

The greatest Kiss song ever. No question. Don’t like it? fuck you. It’s my blog.

Beth

Hoo boy. Okay. This is equal parts an alright song, and a warning why you never let your drummer contribute to the songwriting process.

All of “Music from The Elder”

…What? What the fuck? What even is this shit? Who are you fuckasses and what did you do with Kiss?

IN SUMMARY

So do they hold like they did in my childhood? Are the still the “hottest band in the world”? If you want the best, are you gonna get the best?

….Yes and no.

Here’s the thing: Kiss are equal parts rock band and stage show, and it’s hard to have one without the other. Especially because they know how to put on a fucking awesome rock show. But as musicians? They leave a lot to be desired. Given the amount of Kiss merch out there, they’re better businessmen then they are rock stars.

Yeah their songs go alright and I daresay younger me had a pretty good ear for music, but they’re basically Nickelback with make-up and debauchery. They’re average. Middle of the road. If you want your cock-rock minus Jon Bon Jovi and his obsession with being a fucking cowboy in lieu of making decent music, then listen to Kiss. Just don’t expect your ears blown off unless you see them live.

 

Till next time…

 

….No, seriously, what the fucking fuck was “The Elder”?! Jesus fuck.

 

 

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