Thursday, September 01, 2011

Top Of The Heap: Kiss

Andy's pick-


Andy Says-
Formed out of the ashes of rock band Wicked Lester (of which Kiss co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were members of) New York City's Kiss made their debut in 1973. While Wicked Lester had recorded one album by all accounts they were considered a flop. Kiss however would go on to become one of the most popular American hard rock bands of all time. My first exposure to Kiss came by way of their third hits album (only the second one to be released here in the States though) Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. I was familiar enough with their radio hits of course, but where I was living at the time their were few places to buy albums. I would end up wearing that tape out and eventually I went about collecting their back catalog. Even though I consider myself only a casual Kiss fan still over the years I have amassed quite the catalog of Kiss LPs, tapes and CDs. Over time the tapes and CDs moved on but I have kept the LPs. Having listened to most (if not all) of their albums my favorite one remains their 1974 self-titled debut. One of the first things that comes to mind when I think about the recording is the raw production it has. Before Kiss became over-produced and far too slick they had a rough edge to them and it just works on so many levels. Musically this album can be seen as a logical step for Kiss as they had evolved out of Wicked Lester. Like Wicked Lest this album owes a lot to 60's acts like The Beatles. While it is a heavy metal album it has the same sort of rock and roll vibe that made acts like The Beatles stand out. The songwriting owes more to Lennon and McCartney than it does bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. That is not to say that this album isn't heavy. It is and then some. Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley created an album that is almost perfect hard rock. Other than the awful "Kissin' Time" (which was not included on the original release) this self-titled album is just hit after hit. Of course everyone knows "Cold Gin". But what about killer tracks like "Strutter", "Deuce", "Firehouse" and "Black Diamond"? Each of these cuts have their own appeal and are all prime examples of what made early Kiss so epic. While I enjoy most of their music from the 70s after that they became hit and miss. This album to me is like a hidden gem in that most people don't seem to be able to see the beauty in it's primitive sound.

Metal Mark's pick-

I generally prefer the earlier days of KISS although my second favorite album is 1982's Creatures of the night. However my favorite album from them has always been Dressed to kill. To me this album is their most consistant and catches them when they still had some raw energy left. You get some kickers in "Room service", "Getaway" and "Lover her all I can". Then you have some solid but still cool rockers in "Two Timer", "Ladies in waiting" and "Anything for my baby". I have always thought that "Lover her all I can" is an overlooked track. "She" is a good example of how KISS could milk a lot from a little to make a song work. Sure, "Rock and roll all night" has been played to death over theyears, but it's still a fantastic anthem. To me the best songs here are "Rock bottom" and the absolutely fantastic "C'mon and love me". Yes, KISS were pure cheese from the beginning of their career, but their is room for fluff too if it's done right. KISS will never be accused of being the greatest musicians or writers around. However they could get some good tunes going and they knew how to sell them too. KISS always looked exciting in their make-up in the 70's and for most of that decade they sounded excited about what they were doing even if their was no real point to it except to make fun music.

***What's your favorite KISS album?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite KISS album (today, cause it changes almost daily, LOL) is "Love Gun". From the album artwork and title track to "Shock Me" I just dig it all. I bought this album at a dept. store called Caldor... and the album had the cardboard Love Gun in it too. I no longer have either the vinyl or cardboard gun... long story.

Mark, I HEAR YOU on "Creatures Of The Night", man that album ROCKS!! Andy, your choice is solid and you can't go wrong with the KISS debut... it's difficult to pinpoint a "fave" KISS album isn't it? Don't laugh... I still dig "Unmasked" like there is no tomorrow! Whoa yes. Okay... I see you laughing...

7:03 PM  
Blogger The Mule said...

The first three KISS albums can't be beat, IMO. It's hard to choose between them, but my favorite may be Hotter Than Hell. "Parasite"... "Watchin' You"... "Strange Ways"—that's some heavy shit! After that, I'd pick the debut album.

7:15 PM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

I agree with Mark. I've always loved Dressed To Kill and that will always be my favourite.

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this explains my MISS love:

9:44 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I'm with Dressed to Kill, and that's the only Kiss album to make my 100 Metal Albums You Can't Live Without list, albeit I too let Creatures sit in the running for a long while as it's their most metal album and damned good one.

3:55 AM  

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