Universal Music Group
I got into KISS in about '76...I was in 2nd grade and they were the shit. Hell, the last day of school that year my parents took me for an end of the year gift and I picked out 'Destroyer' from the racks of the Wallgreens store that used to be in Glenwood Springs. Drawing pictures of their stage shows as we imagined how they must looked based on the pictures we had seen of them was only part of our obsession. We also fed into the rumors and fed on the hype. The one story I recall is a concocted tale of Gene Simmons slashing the face of teen icon Sean Cassidy with the spikes on his hands as part of his 'Destroyer' costume.
We were kids and we bought it hook line and sinker.
The last statement carries some weight...The mystique of KISS waned over the years as the stories unfolded and the truth was revealed to the dismay of many of the fans. A lot of the fan base has never given in to reality and they cover their ears in a desperate attempt to bury their heads in the sand in an effort to protect themselves from knowing about all the outside song writers, studio musician fill ins, wigs and general mistreatment of former bands members.
As a fan I managed to make it through most of that but the final straw for me was when Gene and Paul put replacements in the sacred war paint of Ace and Peter. I get it, they sold the rights to their personas and Gene knew there was a % of the fan base he could fool and another that might not care. But to me and countless others it was a slap in the face, we felt betrayed. Not only did they steal the makeup they stole a part of my youth and mocked my loyalty as a member of the KISS Army, I was left with no choice but to defect. Hey, they had been through changes before, even during the make-up era. Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent were given their own characters and it was cool. But I get it, it's all about the Benjamin's and at this late in the career they could not afford to rebrand themselves. There might be some lost revenue god forbid...So basically Eddie Trunk, me and a bunch of other dudes pretty much told Gene to go fuck himself and we folded up our 'Farewell Tour' shirts and put them in storage.
People mock them for that 'Farewell Tour' thing, but maybe it really was just a farewell to Ace and Peter and perhaps some dignity...
Another side bar story is a few years ago my buddy went to see scab KISS play and he did the make-up in honor of the event and posted a picture on FaceBook. He was a little pissed when I commented "Nice Tommy Thayer make-up!"
This summer I had the opportunity to catch KISS and MOTLEY CRUE a couple of times. I would not have gone to see just KISS in their current state but I love the CRUE and the second show was a chance to go with my Dad and my daughter. Three generations there together to see some kick ass Hard Rock / Heavy Metal. Overall CRUE blew the wigs off of KISS but what caught my attention over the annoying predictability was their new song. MOTLEY's new song sucked, but it was the high heeled, grease painted, tongue wagers who's new jam actually had some punch to it. I tried not to like it but the second go around I was singing along and rocking on it.
Uh oh..."Their album better NOT be good" I told myself. There is no way I'm buying it, or even listening to it...
Or so I thought...
This dude at work handed a copy and told me to check it out. Reluctantly I did...
I set myself up first and gave myself a bit of a pep talk. I told myself to go into this objectively as possible and take the emotion and history out of it, just listen to the album based on the songs and the songs only. I had to let go of all attachments to my child hood heroes and really open my ears and listen to the album, not just "hear" it but actually listen to it.
Ok...let's cut to the chase...IT KICKS ASS!!! And I enjoy it more with every listen.
The album kicks off with the song they previewed on tour this summer and 'Hell or Hallelujah' is a fist in the air sing along all the way. It's one of the most modern songs on the album too as after the first couple of songs (the third track 'Freak' being one of the weakest) the album gets a ride from the Doc and goes back in time to steal ideas from the 'Love Gun' era. Hell, if some of these songs were re-worked 'Love Gun' throw-aways I would not be surprised. The vibe is good and the tunes are righteous. There are enough 70's influenced, hard rock fuck songs on here to cause any downtown hipster with a THIN LIZZY shirt to blow a "monster" sized load in his skinny jeans.
Some of the vocal arrangements are so fucking KISS it blows my mind. Gene's distinctive style is there and he takes a creative approach to his vocal parts that smacks of trademarked (by Gene) classic KISS. With that, everyone is bringing their 'A' game.
Eric Singer is a better drummer than Peter Criss, that is no contest. Eric Carr will probably go down as my favorite KISS drummer, the power that he brought to the table was carried on by Eric Singer on the 'Revenge' album. Singer does a terrific job of melding the two styles. He plays hard and heavy in the John Bonham style while adding the boogy-woogy rock beats that Criss was known for with plenty of mutha fucken' cowbell! When he takes over vocal duties I don't know if he is trying to sound like Criss or does he too possess a somewhat raspy voice? Maybe it's a little of both.
This is the hardest part for me, even harder than giving Gene Simmons any compliments...And that is letting go of my attachment to Ace and accepting Tommy Thayer as the guitar player in KISS now. Like his buddy Singer he brings opposing KISS styles together as he explores the passion and warmth that Ace was known for while adding the technical prowess of Kulick. And he does bedazzled job of it. His leads are tasteful and heartfelt and he works that fret board like a true master.
One of the things that I was really impressed with while seeing KISS this summer was that Paul Stanley still had the power and the range. That motherfucker can sing! Hearing his voice bellow out the rock anthems of my youth almost brought a tear to my eye. And the dude throws down in the studio really pushing some of the songs to another level. His voice, although powerful as a Marshall stack, is filled with the joy that Rock N' Roll brings him. And when he celebrates the power and energy of Rock N Roll you believe him! He is surely a messiah of ROCK and we are his disciples. When he speaks the men ROCK and the women ROLL! The dude has magical powers over gravity and he makes the panties fall. A power almost every man wants whether he admits it or not and we look at Paul in wonder. You go dude!
Sure the album is corny as my left foot but that is the brilliance of ROCK N ROLL dude! These kats aren't solving world problems, they are trying to see boobies. And damned if they still don't possess the power to make the women work the fruit stand. Song after song you are caught wondering "how the fuck did they think to do that there?", or, "Why would you do that there?"...BUT IT WORKS! The whole package works. Is Gene an ass? Yes. Do I wish Ace was behind his make-up? Yes. Do I wish for world peace? Yes. But the ultimate question at the end of this CD is did it kick ass? And the only answer, the only right answer is...(Even Romney could get this one right)...YES! YES! YES! Will I give up my burned copy and actually buy the CD...Yes. Is the cover stupid? Yes. I guess you can't win them all...But you can turn 'Monster' up louder, roll down the windows (at least until Tuesday, it supposed to get cold again) and pretend you are cool because the only undies you'll be dropping are your brown, pinstriped boxers as you mount the thrown. "Making lame people cool"...That my friend is the power of Rock N Roll...