Kiss

ARTICLE ABOUT Kiss FROM New Musical Express, April 24, 1976

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.
Enjoy!

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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.

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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.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Kiss from New Musical Express, November 15, 1975

I think this is the only time that Kiss played as a five-man band (except that one was a woman and didn`t actually plug in and play). Kiss was starting to get really big at this time in their history, and it is reflected by both Creem and NME printing this article. Enjoy!

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`I was a Kiss (Kissette?) for a day`
Well, four minutes anyway.

Jaan Uhelszki tastes fame and madness with another bunch of American crazies.
Pix: Barry Levine

What am I going to pack to become a Kiss? I ponder over breakfast, wincing at the memory of the previous night`s show. What if that geekish bass player bites my neck, oozing red blood-goo on my unsuspecting shoulder?
Anxiety knots my stomach so much that I can`t even force a single Sugar Crisp down my throat.
Seated in seat 8A on the plane, my fear of flying is mixing badly with my apprehension. After a round of Hail Marys I look up to see Gene Simmons seated next to me, sans makeup of course, although he still makes a scene in his 7 inch platforms, cheese-colored scarf and black polish that he is presently chipping off his stubby nails.
Of all the members of the band, his appearance is the most obscured by the paint; he might just as easily be Omar Sharif or Joe Namath for that matter. Instead he was a former life guard, then a Boy-Friday at Vogue, has a B.A. in Education but secretly confesses a desire to be Bela Lugosi (and is lovingly dubbed Mr. Monster by the rest of his fellow inmates).

Kiss are essentially street snots yanked from their gangs and plugged into an amp. They were brash JD`s, tattoed and tough, who knew exactly what and who they were. Today, they still proudly display their tattoos (except Gene) but now their “colors” are a little more obvious – the paint they wear on stage.
Kiss` identities seem to be the result of some concurrent conception by Eric Van Daniken, Walt Disney, Stan Lee, and Russ Meyer.
Although they wear makeup, the classic stereotype of a flit, Kiss emerge as four macho lugs. “Hey, Uhelszki, you put out?” somebody asked.
“Room 421, Miss.” Key in hand, I rejoin the gang and anxiously ask, like an old hand, “When`s the sound check?”
“What sound check?” Gene blankly answers.
“You mean I don`t get to rehearse?” I ask nervously.
“Nah, you`ll catch on, just follow us,” says Paul.
“Yeah, but I`ve got nothing to wear…” I say with a trace of panic.
It`s 4.00 p.m., and all I have between me and showtime is Saturday afternoon TV. I`m watching Soul Train without having the slightest idea what I`m seeing, when the phone rings.

“Uhelszki?” (By this time I was one of the boys, and either called Uhelszki or kid).
“Yeah?”
“What size shoes do you wear?”
“8 1/2. Why?”
“Too bad. I thought we could snazz you up in a pair of silver boots.”
“Well, maybe I could stuff `em with Kleenex.”
“No, won`t work. Don`t worry, I`ll rummage around some more.”
I felt like I was getting ready for that Big Date – you know, the prom or Homecoming – when actually I was going to be on stage for a total of four minutes in an Ice Arena in Nowhere, Pennsylvania. But still fidgety, I kept trying on my leotard over and over, checking the image in the mirror, and feeling a lot like the motorcycle moll in Naked Under Leather. Drawing the drapes, I practiced a few classic Kiss kicks in the bathroom mirror without much success. My practice was cut short by a knock at the door, and an ominous voice: “Be in the lobby in one hour!”
The voice commanded; mine, as a mere member of the shock troops, was but to obey.
One hour later Ace shoves a bottle of cocoa butter towards me. “Here, use this. It`ll seal your pores.” I guess I looked confused, because Ace asked me, “How come you don`t know anything about putting on make-up, and you`re a chick?”

I ignore the remark and furiously pat the butter all over my naked face. “Broadway Red?” I ask, picking up a worn tube of lipstick.
“Yeah, I love it,” says Peter.
By general, consensus, Kiss have decided to make me up as a composite of all of them, just like the back cover of the Hotter Than Hell album. Now for the actual transformation.
“It`s time to make a little monster. Now watch, so you can do this,” he instructs as if he were a counselor for the Elizabeth Arden School of Beauty. “First rub Stein`s clown white all over your face. Smooth it very lightly, only using a little around the eyes.
“Okay, now sprinkle baby powder all over your face, so the base will set.” I look at Paul in the mirror and start to laugh.
“Didn`t you know we`re the clowns of rock and roll?” Paul jokes. Ace scowls at his reflection, muttering that he made “the goddamned lines too thick.” Unsatisfied, he storms out the door. Peter dabs on his last whisker, and preens in front of the mirror, caressing his lean leather thighs: “Tony Curtis, eat your heart out!”
Ace splotches a silver dot on my nose, and Peter adds his own feline touch in messy black crayon. Paul pauses over the conglomeration, and draws a smaller version of his star. Funny, somehow, I feel some kind of immunity behind the paint, a little more confidence. Maybe this rock and roll business won`t be so bad after all. Gene holds up a mirror and stands back, telling me to look at my reflection. “Don`t you feel special?” he inquires.
“No, silly,” I admit.

Now the presentation of my plugless wonder. Junior shoves a red guitar in my hands and I fumble with it. “You mean you don`t even know how to hold a guitar?” he asks increduously.
My last touch is the freak paraphernalia, and I go from person to person collecting their junk jewelry and brutish decorations. Finally I was outfitted in a studded collar, a menagerie of plastic eyeball (and other unidentified organs) rings, a metal cuff, and a studded belt whose buckle encased a tarantula.
The dressing room in all of its filthy linoleum splendor wasn`t the worst of its lot. Once inside, I`m afflicted with a bad case of modesty, and become obsessed with finding a secluded corner to change into my clothes.
Clutching my costume, I spot an empty stall and dart in relieved, bolting the door. Like a quick change artist, I tear off my teeshirt, tug at my Landlubbers and don my basic black, feeling more like a naked seal than part of Kiss. Timidly, I sneak out of the stall and approach Ace Frehley: “Hey, do you have another pair of tights I can wear? I`m freezing,” I lie.
“Yeah, but they`re size D,” says Ace.
“That`s okay.”
“But Jaan, yours look better. They`re much hotter, because you can see your skin through them. Doncha wanna look good in the pictures?”
“That`s what I was afraid of.”
“Hey, hey, if you don`t watch those legs they`re gonna get grabbed,” leers Simmons.
Embarrassed, I turn on the stage manager and shout: “Hey, how long until we go on?”
“Lookit her, give her a black outfit and make her a Kiss, and already she`s hard core,” he laughs.

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The first band is on and the crowd is a stiff. No encore. Manager Bill Aucoin sticks his head into the dressing room, shoves five backstage passes towards us, and tells us we`ve got 45 minutes until showtime. My palms have started to sweat so much that they`re beginning to obliterate the lettering on my pass, so I stick it on my right shoe, figuring the local goon squad would never believe that I was “Kiss For A Night” and give me the shove, figuring me to be just another fanatical Kiss groupie who had painted her face like her heroes, which seems to be the current fashion among the fans.
In keeping with the code of concealing the real identity of Kiss, my photographer can`t start shooting until the guys have sufficiently obscured their features. I take a spin around the backstage area which is littered with underage glitter queens of varying age and brilliance. A fourteen year old Patty Play Pal accosts me.
“You know Gene Simmons?” she drools.
“Yeah,” I reply matter-of-factly.
“Does he really do those things with his tongue?” she asks excitedly.
“I guess so,” I reply.
“Gee, I wish he`d use that tongue on me,” she says wistfully.
I return, and Kiss are in the final stages of completion, and ready to give me tips on cosmetology. I`m hesitant to let them know that the last time I put on face make-up was in the 10th grade, in the girls` loo at Southfield High School.

Like a rock and roll Casey Stenger Bill gave me an impromptu pep talk about standing up straight, not watching the audience, and looking “like you belong there.”
What he didn`t realize was I was getting a little trigger happy, and maybe even stage struck, but just in case I motioned him over to me. “I have every intention of going through with this, but when it`s time for me to go on stage, don`t give me a hand sign, just shove.”
The set seemed to take forever; I felt like I was sitting through the rock version of Gone With The Wind.
The make-up was beginning to itch unbearably. As I raised a lone fingernail to scratch, Bill Aucoin was at my side, like a trained pro, grabbing my hand. “That`s a no-no” he said, and fanned my face to relieve the irritation. “Did you know you`re on next?” he inquired.
I didn`t. From stage left I peeked at the greedy crowd, and was horrified that the stage was only inches off the floor – well 24 inches. This struck me as odd, since this is a Kiss concert and everybody knows their reputation for riling up an audience, whether it be amorous ladies intent on wrapping their arms around Ace`s mike stand, or just uncounted masses of genderless groupies who want to cop a feel.
Countdown. Then the shove, and I`m on stage, moving like I`m unremotely controlled. Forgetting completely that I am in front of 5,000 people participating as one fifth of this sadistic cheerleading squad, bobbing and gyrating instinctively, I no longer hear the music, just a noise and a beat. On cue I strut over to Simmons` mike and lean into it and sing. Singing loud without hearing myself, oblivious to everything but those four other beings on stage. Gene whispers for me to “shake it” and I loosen up a little more, until I feel like a Vegas show girl going to a go go.

Suddenly it strikes me: I like this. And I venture a look at the crowd, that clamouring hungry throng of bodies below me. All I can think at that moment is how much of all those kids resemble an unleashed pit of snakes, their outstretched arms bobbing and nodding, as if charmed by the music. I wonder if they will pick up on the hoax? But they keep screaming and cheering, so I might just as well be Peter Criss, unleashed from his drum kit, as anyone, the only difference is, I am the only Kiss with tits.
I slide over to Stanley`s mike, sneaking up behind him, and mimic his calisthenics. He whirls around and catches me, emitting a huge red crimson laugh from his painted lips. I push my unplugged guitar to one side and do an aborted version of the bump and the bossa nova, singing into Paul`s mike this time.
“I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day!
“Oh yeah!
“I wanna rock and roll all night, and party every day!”
And right on cue, to add that last dash of drama, Junior`s beefy arms ceremoniously lift me and the guitar three feet off the stage, and I look like a furious fan who almost managed to fullfill her fantasy, but was foiled in the end. But you know something? I feel foiled; I wanted to finish the song. My song!

We trekked back to the dressing room and now, after the ordeal, my legs went marshmallow. Wanting to appear blase after my big debut, I grabbed a wooden chair and draped myself over it.
“It was hysterical!” laughed Paul. “I forgot about you, then all of a sudden I look and see you dancing, looking like Minnie Mouse.”
“You`re a perfect stage personality,” said Gene. You took over, stealing scenes like a pro. The kids thought you were a part of the show.”
Junior walked over. I was afraid of his verdict but he liked it, he liked it! “You did it! You got out there like a trouper. I gave you the sign and away you went.”
“I didn`t think they noticed…” I sputtered.
“I was watching people in the front row, and they were saying `Who is this chick. What is she doing up there? What`s going on?`” Junior continued.
The party was over, the fans dispersed, but the five of us were armed with five boxes of Kleenex and four bottles of cold cream. “You know, if we don`t get rich, I`m gonna need a padded cell,” confessed Peter.

Reprinted courtesy of “CREEM” magazine.

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Read more by and of Jaan Uhelszki here: http://jaanuhelszki.com/

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Nils Lofgren, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Ivor Cutler, Steve Howe, Spud, John Cale.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Kiss from New Musical Express, August 23, 1975

Once more we have proof that critics really don`t know a turd from a diamond. We all read record reviews, but ultimately you have to listen to the album yourself to decide if you like it. “Rock and Roll All Nite” is one of Kiss’ most well-known songs, almost like a signature song for the band. Many of the other songs on this album are among the most popular among their fans today – songs like “She”, “C’mon and Love Me” and “Room Service” are still in high regard.
Have fun with this review!

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Record Review

KISS: “Dressed To Kill”
(Casablanca)

By Max Bell

This record has unscented anti-perspirant smeared over every groove. It doesn`t sweat, it doesn`t move, it doesn`t even make me feel particularly violent.
In other words Kiss have gone the way of all flesh and cleaned up. If this change in direction goes much further though they`ll end up dying a desultory death.
Main problem is that bossman Neil Bogart has carefully extinguished the buzzing, sub-manic, nod-out doze of “Hotter Than Hell” and substituted pristine clarity. New, but not improved… ie., “this guitar goes in that channel.” Worst of all you can actually hear the lyrics, which on a Kiss album is the last thing you want.

Seems that as soon as they made a conscious effort to reveal their I.Q.`s, Kiss lost their real claim to fame (making straightforward rock so dumb it was good). The urgency is gone, riffs are thin on the ground, and ears are still intact. Besides, it`s too hot to jump up and down.
No more deranged HM and gluttonous dual lead. There`s even a tasteful classical guitar intro to the stunningly titled “Rock Bottom”. In the barely passable league we`ve got “Two Timer”, “Getaway” and “She”, while the last single, “Rock-And-Roll All Nite” is only pleasantly retarded. Most of the time Kiss sound like a Rubettes Silverhead hybrid. About as heavy as a flimsy negligee.

I conclude that this is one of the most expendable, vapid formulations of the time-tested excursions into nowhere since Lord Rutherford tried to stick the atom back together again. And being one of the only people in this office who liked their previous two albums it comes as some disappointment to be presented with such tired, mill-grist by way of the third.
If this is progression, I don`t like it. And by the way, whoever organised the sleeve, lose ten points for getting the band names totally out of synch.

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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: Les Perrin, Robin Trower, Guide to Reading Festival, Judy Collins, Third World, Max Merritt, David Bowie.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Kiss FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 22, 1975

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.

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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.

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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.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Kiss FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 1, 1975

A fairly nice review of Kiss`s first two albums in this article. It seems that not every critic hated them at the start of their career.

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World Record Kiss-off in Chicago

Sabre toothed guitarist sets fire to hair, audience applauds

By Max Bell

To partially paraphrase an old punk song: “It`s 1975 okay, all across the U.S.A.” Meanwhile back in the States it`s thunder and lightning time.
Kiss are a 1970`s band for all those who claim there aren`t any, and as if the name wasn`t enough to put you on your guard they turn out to be New Yorkers as representative of that city as Vanilla Fudge or the Velvet Underground. They look and act hideous too; lots of leather and grease paint but in a way the antithesis of glam rock, which is a bandwagon they may be involuntarily assigned to.
Where Kiss differ from their stable mates is that they can actually play. In between the heavy metal rock and roll there`s sublety and precision coupled with the perennial appeal of dirty street brat lyrics spat out by the aggressively macho bassist Gene Simmons. Behind him the band pump a combination of MC5-like adolescent frustration and Blue Oyster Cult style melt-rock.

For once the warpaint image, and the sour smell of excess, fit perfectly into the overall musical approach. There`s a first album of unbelievable ferocity. Try “Strutter” which is not the high camp posturing you`d imagine – no scout masters in this set-up. Under all that make-up they leer like four Joel Grays. “Nothin` To Lose”, a single, should shortly be assaulting England`s unsullied airwaves, fired by the joint Samurai interplay of composer Paul Stanley and Space “Ace” Frehley. Ace is the quiet one in the party until he straps on his guitar – then he stumbles across stage, smearing licks over every number. “Kissin`Time” is their anthem, a travelogue inspired by the mouthing marathons that are an unmistakeable feature of the concerts now. At times Simmons sounds a dead ringer for Rob Tyner but they do have a definable buzz of their own. For example “Let Me Know” drifts into a perfectly straight accapella before Peter Criss, drummer, sets it back on its heels for an all-out rocking exit. He doesn`t let go of the beat ever. “100,000 Years” and “Black Diamond” are propelled screaming over Stanley and Frehley`s rhythmic escapades, while the latter has a descending finale that has to be heard to be believed.
Sometimes Kiss are too damn loud for their own good; they certainly won`t be to everyone`s taste or temper. But only the instrumental “Love Theme From Kiss” lacks the energy of its companions, coming across as an unnecessary allowance for taste.

And so to a superior successor, “Hotter Than Hell”, which says it all, or nearly. I don`t think anyone would deny that Kiss are anything other than basic. Their lyrics are simple juvenile escapism shot through with blatant sexual fantasy. It`s an integral simplicity though because they work on a feeling. It`s a crude mood which hasn`t yet been perfected. At the moment they veer between polarities of cleverness and elementary brashness, but when the two collide the result is real excitement.
As far as standards of excellence go Kiss are non-starters because they aren`t competing on level terms with exploratory technicians or the relaxed intelligence of a Steely Dan; they will appeal to the darker side of your nature with their chiaroscuric masks, huge emblazoned signs and deliberately spectacular presentation. What emerges is a sound that doesn`t allow for partial acceptance; you either love it or hate it and no disguising intent.
“Hotter Than Hell” invariably surpasses its predecessor; the sophisticated touches, while sensibly sparse, being more effective. On “Goin` Blind” there`s a distant melodic line which could almost be The Beatles, if Kiss weren`t a million megatons removed from the sixties. Similarly the title track and “Let Me Go, Rock And Roll” are the relentless brain numbing blast which is four kids in a garage band – with Mosrite equipment – taken to a logical conclusion.

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What these albums reveal is that New York music has a freneticism all its own that doesn`t basically alter; some people are just better at playing it than others. “Mainline” puts Kiss firmly on the right side of the track while “Comin` Home” and “Strange Ways” (isn`t that where we came in?) show exactly how much of an East Coast group they are. No flowers, no sunshine, not even audible narcotics but cities, concrete and cold gin. Kiss have the type of aura that sends parents seeking asylum while the kids stick their pictures on the wall.
These two albums aren`t the sort you recommend to anyone. Listen to them first and then decide. Number one is definitely hors d`oeuvres for a meal which nearly arrives on “Hotter Than Hell” but which I think is yet to come.
Here`s a recorded testimony which embodies claims of being flash-rock`s prime exponents. In all honesty they make the Dolls seem like the boys next door. Even so a lot of people still remain suspicous of their credentials and point to the likelihood of this being another transient stage in a predictable, but brief, fame.
Thus a Transatlantic call provided a basis for evaluating the band in the absence of live performance here. In the States it`s 9.30 a.m., a time when most degenerate heavy kids are staggering into bed. However, Gene and Paul are coming across disgustingly bright and breezy.

After the initial formalities we get down to the obvious tack of glam n`glitter and where Kiss feature in relation to it: “Nowhere man, that thing is dead and the participants are finished too. But we`re getting a bigger response all the time. I don`t want to sound malicious but with people like the Dolls, well, you can`t go on fooling audiences all the time. We can play. Before this came together we were practising for months in a loft to get it right.”
By all accounts response have been close to hysteria. Thrills and spills in plenty too. The first time Simmons tried this flame-throwing act in public the fire rebounded from his dagger and set his hair alight. “It wasn`t `til our roadie smothered me with his jacket that I knew what happened. The crowd loved it though, thought it was part of the act.” A disturbing factor about mass gatherings (like rock concerts) is that one always feel the latent crowd power might uncontrollably erupt. Stanley cites a Baltimore incident. “We were playing a number and suddenly there`s a fire in the balcony. Kids gathered around it and were chanting like at a ceremonial magic rite – they`d started it.” Recently, in Detroit, a boy leapt from a second floor window after seeing Kiss. Incidents like these worry Gene but he insists the attitudes of their audiences are healthy.

“It`s not a negative vibe, like smashing seats. They get rid of frustration with the music. Personally I`d be insulted if people didn`t react immediately. Groups have tried that laid-back experimental trip too long. We`re not gonna use any audience to get heavy; our music is going to get simpler. We want to be seen as a dancing band whose records get taken to parties.”
Aside from volume violence (Kiss play at 110 decibels which is liable to flatten you to any adjacent wall) each member has a identifiable persona reflected largely by make-up. Space “Ace” Frehley is an S.F. freak who`ll explain von Daniken at the drop of a hat.
Criss imagines he`s reincarnated from a cat, has nine lives, paints on whiskers and at one point in the act is hoisted eight feet into the air as if on a hot tin roof. He doesn`t yet drink milk on stage.
Simmons, who has horror movies written all over, holds that “we all have various personalities. On stage we let the fantasy come through. I believe in putting on a show, if people pay to see you they expect you to be larger than life.” Part of the “everybody`s a star” ethic has been the participation in Kissathons leading to a world kiss-off in Chicago (the record being set at over 100 hours). What Kiss have obviously succeeded in doing is cultivating a marketable self-sufficient package.

It remains to be seen whether interest will be generated away from what is an American phenomenon. You could interpret the standard spiel about bi-sexuality and sabre-toothed tigers as a self-conscious, calculated gambit for arousing curiosity and perhaps the wave Kiss are currently riding will break, but it hasn`t happened yet. Of course they`re aesthetically suspect, and ultimately about bad taste, but since when wasn`t there a place in rock music for that?

When downloading didn`t kill music, batteries were.

When downloading didn`t kill music, batteries were.

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: Lowell George (Little Feat), Alan Hull (Lindisfarne), Marc Bolan, Doobie Brothers, Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, John McLaughlin, The Soft Machine, Bob Pegg, Little Milton, Ian Bairnson (Pilot).

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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