The last time I posted something with Kiss in it, I had a lot of traffic to my site, so here is an album review of their very first album, first printed in NME almost exactly a year after its original release. Never too late to do a review of this wonderful album, but Mr. Farren had a really lousy day at the office when listening to this.
So, for the sake of historic interest – here it is for you to digest.
KISS: “Kiss” (Casablanca)
Album review by Mick Farren
Up until Max Bell gave us his reasoned defence of Kiss a couple of weeks ago, I had assumed they were simply an also ran in the glitter stakes who had taken the S+M vampire make up to the point of overkill and altogether missed the boat.
After reading Max`s piece I made a serious attempt to bypass the fright mask cover portrait and take these people seriously as a potential great high energy band of the 1970s. I fear, however, that they are a long way from being the MC5.
Kiss have made the error of thinking that energy generation in rock and roll is a matter of formula. They use the cliches that have been developed over the years by every high energy band.
They seem to have a kind of ignorant faith that the rock audience is conditioned to a Pavlovian response to music after all this time, and will jump to the banal like a rat up a maze. Ring the bell and the dogs dribble, hit a power chord and the kids run out and buy your record. It is a logical idea for these jaded decadent 70s, but fortunately it isn`t true, quite yet, although it could provide the scenario for the next Bowie album.
The greats of high energy like Townshend and Kramer used power chords, stops and searing runs to lash the audience to higher levels of ecstasy. It was an almost subconscious physical link that started a feedback ring between the musician and the listener that built to a greater and greater high.
Most of the great energy players knew how to form the circuit, but they couldn`t isolate a formula behind it.
Kiss have attempted to process all that has gone before and produce the feedback by an effort of logic, and it just doesn`t work.
The album might have been saved had their rhythm section been less tricky and more energetically oafish, but despite all their efforts, the outcome is simply plodding.
To make matters even worse, they don`t seem to be singing about anything. It`s hard to tell. The vocal sound is so compressed that the lyrics are almost unintelligible.
I sincerely hope Kiss aren`t the high energy band of the 70s, although if they are, I could explain why the planet is so low on fun.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Status Quo, Bryan Ferry, Robin Trower, Alan Freeman, David Bowie, Elton John, Larry Coryell, Hank Marvin, Eric Clapton, Kursaal Flyers, Todd Rundgren.
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