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"Kiss" is the debut studio album by the American hard rock band of the same name. It was released in 1974 on Casablanca Records and produced by Kenny Kerner & Richie Wise. The line-up for the album was Paul Stanley (vocals/guitar), Ace Frehley (guitar), Gene Simmons (bass/vocals) and Peter Criss (drums/vocals).
"Strutter" begins with drums, and keeps an uptempo beat through the whole song. The lyrics are about a woman who is good looking and charismatic - and knows it. Her ability to string men along is legendary.
Listed as the 7th best drinking song of all time, "Cold Gin" is one of those songs that you'll find yourself singing along to as you rock to the beat. Written by Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons performs lead vocals because Frehley was insecure about his singing ability.
Beginning with a bass solo by Gene Simmons, "100,000 Years" contains a short drum solo. The song has an almost sci-fi feel to it, perhaps due to the two note bass riff. The lyrics are a bit odd, but add a mysterious feel to the song which adds to the science fiction feel, whether it was intended or not. There are some amazing guitar solos included in the song.
The intro to "Black Diamond" features Paul Stanley singing, accompanied for the first verse by a twelve string, acoustic guitar. This is followed by the whole band joining in and Peter Criss taking over lead vocals. After an Ace Frehley guitar solo, the song begins to slow and fade out.
One of the best first albums I have heard from any band, this one truly stands out for me. I would recommend it to anyone who wants an introduction to Kiss' music. What better place to start, than the beginning of it all?
2. Nothin' to Lose
4. Cold Gin
5. Let Me Know
6. Kissin' Time
8. Love Theme From KISS
9. 100,000 Years
10. Black Diamond
My rating: 8/10
Kiss are a somewhat bizarre case when it comes to the UK, everyone seems to know what they look like, well what their makeup looks like, but they never seem to have made the same impact musically in Britain as they have in their homeland across the Atlantic. What makes them stand out even more is just how successful they are outside of Britain, only the Beatles have sold more records! With this said, they weren't always stadium headliners, even in their native USA, and began with this modestly successful 1974 self-titled cut, probably released more on the strength of their stage show than any actual faith in the group's music.
How to describe Kiss' music is on the one hand quite simple, but on the other difficult. The reason it's difficult is that they have had a habit of changing their sound somewhat in the 30+ years since this album was released. A blanket statement could be that they play anthemic, party-rock. Lyrics rarely go beyond women, parties, drink and rock and roll, but then that's part of the appeal. The best description of the band's sound circa this record would be the glam rock anthemic quality of Slade (Gene Simmons admits this influence) but given a harder rock, almost Led Zeppelin but not quite as technical like edge, with a dash of AC/DC lyrically. This rather unorthodox combination may come as a surprise to some who have never heard them, the band's kabuki style makeup, stage antics and armoured costumes make them look more like a modern metal act, but have no doubts, Kiss are, at their songwriting best, as close to a pop band as a metal one.
Though it may not contain any of the handful of songs Britain is familiar with, Kiss isn't without it's share of storming rockers, spearheaded by opening track Strutter. Easily the best song on the record, and a live staple to this day, Strutter is great introduction to the band, with Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley's dual guitar attack working perfectly, a rumbling bassline from Gene Simmons and a spot-on vocal delivery from Stanley, his high-pitched voice kept from the sonic-boom causing pitch he would achieve on later albums, with this delivery a more 'real' tone. The sing-a-long chorus, cutting guitar riff and lyrics detailing that woman everyone knows, gorgeous on the outside, less so on the inside make this vintage Kiss, and definitely the best way to start the band's debut album, and therefore discography.
Sadly, Kiss never scales the heights of Strutter again, but that's not to say it's other songs aren't without merit, in fact, I'd be hard pressed to say any of the songs comprising it's 10 song duration were bad, with even the most bland of them, like Firehouse or Let Me Know, managing to get feet tapping or a chorus interaction. An interesting note that was clear even this early into the band's career is how songs penned by Gene Simmons have a noticeably harder edge, not just in terms of his more gruff vocal delivery, but also the guitar parts. The contrasting voices of Stanley and Simmons would also become a characteristic synonymous with the band's work, and it's also featured early on here, on the second track no less, and while Nothin' To Lose may not go down as a classic, it acts as an early indicator of not only this dual-voiced chorus working well, but also Simmons' songwriting style and it's contrast to Stanley's. Simmons really comes into his own on Deuce though, it's another rock love song with a group chorus, but it's powerful riff and wailing solo from Frehley push it up a level.
Guitarist Frehely contributes one track to the album, Cold Gin, an ode to the hard stuff, sung by Simmons. If anything his gruff voice suit's the tone of the track better than Frehley's would. It's got a slower, deliberate build-up, coming to life at the chorus.
The remaining songs all follow a similar outline to Strutter's, only not quite as well written, with the exception of 3. Black Diamond closes the album, and it provides as close to an equal as Strutter gets, though written by Stanley, it's Simmons' bassline here that steals the show, coupling with a great chorus to craft the album's second best song. Even Simmons and Frehley giving some "woo-oohs" before the chorus can't detract from this storming rocker, which devotes almost half of its 5:13 running time to instrumental parts, and is better for it, highlighting all of the band's musical abilities in a fantastic climactic burst.
Easily the most bizarre cut on the album is Love Theme from Kiss, a short instrumental that credit's the entire band. It's strange in that it's quite soft compared to the rest of the album, and really just seems rather out of place.
The final mention goes to the album's cover of Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe's Kissin' Time however, a truly anthemic number where Simmons and Stanley alternate vocals from verse to verse, coming together at the chorus for the most horrifically cheesy, yet and the same time brilliant sing-a-long heard to date. Indicative of the route the band would take to score their biggest hits later in their career, but as with those songs, cheesy as it is, the song also manages to achieve a sense of fun most bands would kill for.
So while it may not be a perfect album (I'm not sure if Kiss have any truly great albums) Kiss is definitely a solid and thoroughly entertaining one. Yes it has a god-awful sleeve, and yes it's all a bit silly, but at the same time, it's ridiculously good fun, Strutter is genuinely outstanding, and when the only major detractor I can name for the album is that not all of it's songs are awesome, you know it's a decent deal. Rock fans who don't themselves too seriously will find much to like, and sing along with on Kiss.
The eponymous debut of American glam/shock rockers KISS. This is the ultimate raw to the bones KISS album. KISS formed from the reminates of Wicked Lester, recycle their first few songs and came up trumps with this collection of songs. Strutter, Black Diamond, Deuce, Cold Gin & Firehouse are still a major part in there live concert shows today. The track Kissin' Time was only added later, due to a successful PR Kissing competation for the longest kissing couple.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Nothin' To Lose
4 Cold Gin
5 Let Me Know
6 Kissin' Time
9 100000 Years
10 Black Diamond