Some interesting perspectives on Kiss in this short review of their album “Destroyer”. It has been over 40 years since this album arrived, and among a lot of Kiss-fans it is held as one of their greatest albums ever. Also, in a lot of the rock music magazines, it usually gets in the top 50 albums of all time lists. So there is something about this album that Mr. Bell couldn`t quite see at the time.
KISS: Destroyer (Casablanca)
By Max Bell
If ever a group have made it huge in America by carefully manipulated saturation in terms of records, concerts and promotion then Kiss are that animal.
Five records in two years, bill topping over bands they were supporting but six months ago – jeez, Kiss are so big it hurts.
Incredibly their reliance on a modicum of style, unashamed derivativeness and a stage persona which is gross in the extreme still hasn`t prevented them being accepted by the city fathers and mothers of the union. When Kiss hit town they get the works; keys, red carpets and police escorts.
Kind of fishy for a bunch of perverted looking dudes in monster make-up and ten-inch heels, the kind of guys you`d expect your parents to loathe and detest.
But no, the Kiss armies, kissing competitions, Kiss-mobiles and fan clubs abound, the accent is on fun-a-go-go. The whole thing reeks of commercialism gone mad.
For “Destroyer” they`ve kept the services of Bob Ezrin, who is certainly a better producer than Neil Bogart, and heralds Kiss` foray into the territory vacated by Alice Cooper now that he`s taken to advertising Budweiser and playing golf with the establishment.
Ezrin has also written a lot of the lyrics this time round and that means the image moves from contrivance to downright self-parody.
The opener “Detroit Rock City” is aimed specifically at a `Get up off your chair and get down` routine, the oldest trick in the book. Musicwise and otherwise though the song is pretty nifty and involves the grisly tale of someone killed in a head on collision (with sound effects, natch) while listening to his own music blaring over the car radio.
It`s a typical piece of Ezrin chicanery but good for all that.
Kim Fowley, that real live minor league punk, proves he`s still at large by contributing “King Of The Night Time World” which has guitarists Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley hors de combat and slurping along like subterranean, festering corpses while the ridiculous Gene Simmons yells his set pieces with credible `B` horror movie posturing.
Maybe I`ve got calluses on the brain but I sometimes think Kiss are quite funny. Undeniably they`re slick and ultra polished too but the vampire drooling extras are getting tedious. Worse, drummer Peter Criss and Frehley are looking bored these days, all that grease paint can`t do much for the complexion anyhow.
A lot of their recent publicity snaps show that only Simmons and Stanley seem convinced that all this is good idea.
An example of Kiss falling by their image comes on “God Of Thunder” which is no doubt a cue for the exploding amplifiers and automatic neutron pods to splutter into action. Musically it sucks. A gratuitously gimmick ridden, ham-fisted dose of fall out entirely bereft of humour or excitement.
“Great Expectations” is a slab of pubescent teasing which,, ow you say, leaves little to the imagination. `You`ll watch me playing my guitar and you`ll see what my fingers can do`. Humph, I think you get the picture. At least that kind of dumb nastiness fits Kiss` grisly masque whereas “Beth”, replete with lavish strings and weedy romanticism, is plain idiotic.
Kiss are suffering from one overwhelming problem, their own success. I happen to believe that given time and minus the now ludicrous clowning they could make something genuinely heavy.
With material of the calibre of “Shout It Out Loud” (very neatly dispatched to the cleaners by Mister Singles last week) they are merely riding on a vehicle of their own unimaginative making. “Flaming Youth”, which is actually highly creditable rock`n`roll, would have been a far better bet.
Of course they`re no fools, very adept and sending themselves up rotten, probably some kind of poisonous gas live too. Still as they are now running snarling to the bank with such regularity I wish they`d justify the talent that lurks beneath the facade.
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Mick Ronson, British Country Music Festival, Abba, J.J. Cale, Magna Carta, Dr. Alimantado, Steve Harley, Osibisa, Rolling Stones.
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