I am about to express views which I have forewarned my family may require us all to go into hiding in a safe house somewhere and we will never be free to visit the States again. Views which depart so far from the orthodox party rock line that I have not heard them uttered aloud before, indeed ones I hesitate to type here. I don’t like Kiss and I never have. There said it. Take me now.
I own 3 Kiss LPs and the 12″ picture disc of ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’, so I’m not speaking from a position of total ignorance here and I have tried to like them. Hell, I like the idea of Kiss – I love the way they looked in their late 70s heyday, I love the all the kitsch merchandising, the whole story of Casablanca records, their logo itself is a thing of genius. It’s just the music I’m not so keen on.
Okay, okay I accept that I’m a man out of time and context here. Had I been a rock kid in the right place at the right time I might have worshipped at their altar, but I’m not and I am left with the music and I have heard most of it via various obsessed friends. The music always seemed so secondary to the whole Kiss thing. Case in point, I bought Destroyer in 1995 as it was a bona fide, solid gold, much raved about classic to keep my copies of Lick it up and Alive! company. Great cover, Bob Ezrin, good song titles, Kerrang! voted it the 36th best metal LP ever, what could go wrong?*
They even open the LP with their best ever song, ‘Detroit Rock City’, a moment of unalloyed genius which gains massive 1537 bonus points for the best use of sound effects outside a Floyd LP ever; it fully justifies the band’s existence for life. ‘King of the night time world’ is okay, a bit of a plodder with a good chorus and then ‘God of thunder’ rocks up sounding genuinely scary and dark. So far, so very good, but that’s it for me, I wouldn’t give you anything for any of the other tracks on this LP. I know what I’m saying, I know ‘Beth’ is there with it’s Beatley bits and the big guns of ‘Shout it out loud’ and ‘Do you love me’. But I can’t hear what makes them worthwhile and I can’t ever really see myself listening to ‘Great Expectations’ or ‘Flaming Youth’ voluntarily again.
I know people love this group and these LPs, but I can’t hear it. I have a big problem with Paul Stanley’s voice** it’s neither tuneful or powerful enough for me. The production ain’t bad on this LP (the drum sound on all the earlier studio ones I’ve heard, is dire) but the playing doesn’t do anything for me either. I don’t have to have virtuosity, I don’t have to have rawness, but I do need something and I can’t hear it in Kiss. I find all their stuff, give or take the odd curveball, just plods along at that really predictable brontosaurus pace. I don’t hear enough energy or passion here, apart from ‘Detroit..’ of course. Give me Poison any day – and that’s not something I hear myself saying often (and yes, I know they plundered loads from Kiss).
If you love ’em musically let me know why, please, let me know what I’m missing here because I can’t hear it.***
* that’s one of those rhetorical questions, as used exclusively by women and TV adverts.
** I’m sure he’d have a thing or two to say about mine, were I not infinitely beneath his notice.
*** I know they’ve done some good tracks elsewhere, I like ‘Modern Day Delilah’ for example as well as their cover of ‘(Do you remember) Rock ‘n’ roll Radio’, but surely a few good tracks isn’t enough for a band of this status?