Author Topic: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation  (Read 67948 times)

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #60 on: June 03, 2009, 11:30:54 PM »
#5 - Rock and Roll Over


First off, it must be said:  Destroyer is not in any way a bad album.  But these reviews are an honest reassessment.  Maybe, in retrospect, using the symphony and the choir so much wasn't the best idea.




The album cover is cool this time.  Look at Peter Criss on Destroyer.  That's ridiculous.  This cover implies that Ace's hair makes a perfect semicircle.  Of course it does.

A certain North Carolina youngster made a tracing of the Rock and Roll Over album cover in his misspent youth.  He might even be able to find it again if he looked hard enough, and could explain to his mother why he was in the attic.

A return to rock and roll, with just the four musicians.  Peter Criss recorded the drum tracks in the bathroom at the studio.  No, really.  Stickers.  Released November 1976, platinum in January 1977.  That's how you do it.


This, to me, is the last time the original lineup really worked.  Mistakes were made during Love Gun, mistakes that cost the band its cohesion.  Maybe it was inevitable.  But Peter and Ace are mostly still important members of KISS on Rock and Roll Over, and that's a big thing.

The songs are classic, as Ace seemed to discover a new way to play guitar for this record.  A lot of spacey sounds come out of the Spaceman on "Take Me," for example.

The three traditional Paul Stanley tracks are sort of similar.  "I Want You" is written for a call-and-response performance, which he gives with gusto on Alive II.  "Take Me" is another one of Paul's pleas to be loved, you know, physically.  As is "Makin' Love," which features the most no-means-yes oriented lyric on any KISS album (!) - "She says 'stop baby' GO GO GO."  That cannot be countenanced.

Three Paul songs ("Makin' Love," "Take Me") were written with longtime roadie/weirdo/managerish type Sean Delaney.  More on the third on in a minute.

Gene's contributions are uneven, but feature one of his best songs ever: swaggering rocker "Calling Dr. Love."  The opening guitar tracks are hugely crunching.  This is a remarkable hard rock song, with cool if not exactly forward-thinking lyrics, the type that should be played more often on Classic Rock stations.  Do they really have to play "Shooting Star" so many times a day?

Gene Simmons is the perfect answer to the age-old question, "What if my high school English teacher was a sex pervert who wrote rock songs?"  We'll cover this more in-depth with one particular song on Love Gun.

"Ladies Room" is ok on this album, better live.  "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" compares favorably to Gene's work on the 4th side of Alive II, which isn't saying much.  Gene hated the version of "See You in Your Dreams" on this album so much he remade it on the solo record with a bunch of weird chicks in the background.

Peter Criss gets two songs on Rock and Roll Over.  The first is "Baby Driver," which he wrote, and which makes no sense at all, musically or lyrically.  The second is his second signature song, "Hard Luck Woman," which is pretty good because it was written by Paul Stanley for Rod Stewart.  Gene made Paul give it to Peter instead.  It's possible that money was involved.

Saved the best for last.  "Mr. Speed," by Paul Stanley and Sean Delaney, is one of the best KISS songs of all time, and, along with "Goin' Blind" on Hotter than Hell, among their most unappreciated work.  It's possible that Mr. Speed works because it doesn't really sound like KISS.  The bass work is GOOD in the context of the song.  Which is something you don't get to say too often about Gene's work.  "100,000 Years?"

It doesn't sound like the Paul Stanley Solo Album either.  It sounds like what a 70s fun rock band might play if they had any talent.  Kudos, Mr. Eisen.




Next up, #6.  After the next one, your humble reviewer may have to take a refresher course.  He can't honestly remember what "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" sounds like all that well.  When it comes to Unmasked, the only song he can remember is "She's So European," mostly because it was played on that "Running with the Cheetah" show.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2009, 11:43:58 PM by buffcoat »
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Bryan

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #61 on: June 04, 2009, 09:57:29 AM »
Please keep it coming, buffcoat. This is really wonderful work.

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #62 on: June 04, 2009, 10:22:23 AM »
Yeah, and I really want to see some KISS artwork!
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mcphee from the forum

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #63 on: June 04, 2009, 11:00:21 AM »
Scenario 5: 1391 BC, Egypt. Paul receives word from security that a baby was found in a basket outside the stadium.

WELLL ALLLL RIIIIIGHT! Do you feel good? (light crowd response) I said DO YOU FEEL GOOD EGYPT? (louder response). I CAAAAN'T HEAR YOU! (response clearly dubbed from another concert). Now, I know alotta you out there got a special someone that you like to call "baby." AM I RIGHT, EGYPT? Now, let me get serious for a second here. I was talking to someone backstage, and he let me know that another kind of baby was found outside this here stadium. (Peter Criss rattler fill) Now, this little rocker was just bawling his lungs out in his wet little basket. I THINK WE GOT A LITTLE ROCK AND ROLLER ON OUR HANDS HERE! (light cheers) Now, what kinda woman would just leave a baby outside a rock and roll show? What kinda woman would abandon her little baby when the Pharoah has decreed that all newborns be put to death? WHAT KINDA WOMAN, EGYPT? (garbled screams) WHAT KINDA WOMAN? (louder, still garbled, screams) I'll tell you what kinda woman would do something like that! A HAAAAAARD LUCK WOMAN!
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Paul Stanley Stage Banter Contest, Round 2
« Reply #64 on: June 04, 2009, 12:19:30 PM »
Scenario 5: 1391 BC, Egypt. Paul receives word from security that a baby was found in a basket outside the stadium.

WELLL ALLLL RIIIIIGHT! Do you feel good? (light crowd response) I said DO YOU FEEL GOOD EGYPT? (louder response). I CAAAAN'T HEAR YOU! (response clearly dubbed from another concert). Now, I know alotta you out there got a special someone that you like to call "baby." AM I RIGHT, EGYPT? Now, let me get serious for a second here. I was talking to someone backstage, and he let me know that another kind of baby was found outside this here stadium. (Peter Criss rattler fill) Now, this little rocker was just bawling his lungs out in his wet little basket. I THINK WE GOT A LITTLE ROCK AND ROLLER ON OUR HANDS HERE! (light cheers) Now, what kinda woman would just leave a baby outside a rock and roll show? What kinda woman would abandon her little baby when the Pharoah has decreed that all newborns be put to death? WHAT KINDA WOMAN, EGYPT? (garbled screams) WHAT KINDA WOMAN? (louder, still garbled, screams) I'll tell you what kinda woman would do something like that! A HAAAAAARD LUCK WOMAN!

YES.

mcphee wins Round 1.

Paul Stanley Stage Banter Contest, Round 2

Scenario 1: Gene debuts the KISS T-Shirt Bass, a fully playable axe bass with a t-shirt cannon attached which can fire coupons into the crowd that are redeemable for a KISS t-shirt for only $5.99. Between songs, Gene fires it into the crowd, injuring a fan.

Scenario 2: Ace falls asleep in the middle of his solo during "Black Diamond" and Paul has to re-introduce the song.

Scenario 3: July 28, 2006 (second show at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, CA, final show of the Rising Sun tour) Paul has taken Netflix up on its recommendation to watch Mulholland Drive and, having seen it for the first time earlier that day, is so taken with the film that he wants to explain what he thinks the movie was about while introducing the next song.

Scenario 4: Psycho Circus Tour, date and venue optional - A deranged gunman rushes the stage and takes Peter hostage. Paul has to introduce the next song, and if he can work it into the introduction, talk the gunman out of shooting Peter. Note: The band has already played Love Gun earlier in the show.

Scenario 5: Summer 2009 - KISS travels to North Korea and plays a concert as part of their efforts to broker a sit-down discussion regarding the reduction of North Korea's nuclear arms; Paul also announces that this is Tommy Thayer's last show with the band and that Tommy could use a ride home back to America after the show, as Ace will be re-joining the band immediately per Kim Jong-Il's request.
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buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #65 on: June 04, 2009, 01:08:35 PM »
Peter seems to suffer a lot in these scenarios.
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nec13

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #66 on: June 04, 2009, 01:16:02 PM »
Scenario 5: 1391 BC, Egypt. Paul receives word from security that a baby was found in a basket outside the stadium.

WELLL ALLLL RIIIIIGHT! Do you feel good? (light crowd response) I said DO YOU FEEL GOOD EGYPT? (louder response). I CAAAAN'T HEAR YOU! (response clearly dubbed from another concert). Now, I know alotta you out there got a special someone that you like to call "baby." AM I RIGHT, EGYPT? Now, let me get serious for a second here. I was talking to someone backstage, and he let me know that another kind of baby was found outside this here stadium. (Peter Criss rattler fill) Now, this little rocker was just bawling his lungs out in his wet little basket. I THINK WE GOT A LITTLE ROCK AND ROLLER ON OUR HANDS HERE! (light cheers) Now, what kinda woman would just leave a baby outside a rock and roll show? What kinda woman would abandon her little baby when the Pharoah has decreed that all newborns be put to death? WHAT KINDA WOMAN, EGYPT? (garbled screams) WHAT KINDA WOMAN? (louder, still garbled, screams) I'll tell you what kinda woman would do something like that! A HAAAAAARD LUCK WOMAN!

Just brilliant. I can't stop laughing.
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buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #67 on: June 04, 2009, 08:20:47 PM »
Good job, McPhee!  Peter has probably been saving the rattler fill since Paul quit telling the "baby with a long tongue" story about Gene after Mr. Simmons' vasectomy and/or senesence.

Rank in order of credibility nowadays: Paul Stanley, Lou Reed or Jimmy Page?


Think carefully about "Come With Me" before you answer.
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nec13

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #68 on: June 04, 2009, 11:03:26 PM »
1. Paul Stanley-Because he's one of the funniest human beings alive.
2. Lou Reed-Although, he released an album of music for tai chi, his work with the Velvet Underground is legendary.
3. Jimmy Page-"Come With Me" was atrocious. As was the movie Godzilla (1998). Does he still live in Aleister Crowley's old house?
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1001. Ted Nugent-If you disagree, just peruse the book, "Ted, White, and Blue."
« Last Edit: June 04, 2009, 11:08:56 PM by TRG »
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buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #69 on: June 04, 2009, 11:06:42 PM »
1. Paul Stanley-Because he's one of the funniest human beings alive.
2. Lou Reed-Although, he released an album of music for tai chi, his work with the Velvet Underground is legendary.
3. Jimmy Page-"Come With Me" was atrocious. As was the movie Godzilla (1998).



Agreed, completely.  Who would ever have thought this in 1979, when "I Was Made for Lovin' You" hit the radio? *


I would say:

Paul, because he's still completely what he always was.
Lou, because he's now more known for being a crank than anything else.
Jimmy, because how on earth can you explain his decisions in the last 15 years?








* Or when he sported the "aerobicize" haircut - see some cover pics from Killerz.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2009, 11:09:07 PM by buffcoat »
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buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #70 on: June 06, 2009, 03:08:33 PM »
#6 - Destroyer

KISS learns to play music.

Unlike the Monkees, KISS could "play their instruments" from the start.  They could even write songs.  And yet,

Quote
During the recording sessions Ezrin resorted to numerous tactics designed to increase the quality of music Kiss recorded. Because none of the group were trained musicians, Ezrin halted the sessions at one point to provide lessons in basic music theory.  In an effort to instill a sense of discipline, he wore a whistle around his neck and exhorted the band with sayings such as, "C'mon campers, let's get going!"  When Simmons stopped playing early during the recording of an outro Ezrin yelled at him, saying, "Don't you ever stop a take unless I tell you!"


Having heard what he did for Alice Cooper (?), KISS decided to bring in producer Bob Ezrin for Destroyer.  Good idea, although it would eventually cost them (see what is likely to be the second to last entry in this series).

Destroyer is undoubtedly a whole lot more ambitious, musically speaking, than Dressed to Kill, the band's previous studio effort.  Dressed to Kill, for example, features a total of zero carnival or wind effects. 

The reason Destroyer is #6 on this list, vs. higher on other people's KISS rankings, is that the songs that are better musically aren't all that great.  The ones that more closely resemble songs from the first three studio albums are better, although they're STILL BETTER LIVE than in their studio versions.

Breaking it down:

"Detroit Rock City" and "King of the Night Time World" are as good back-to-back opening tracks as the band ever did.    The intro on "Detroit Rock City" is clever and interesting, although it's a bit morbid because it chronicles something that really happened to a KISS fan (although who the hell knows whether this is true).  There's some disagreement about whether Gene is the newscaster in the intro.  Put that to rest.  It's Gene.  Paul's humming is funny, too.  The car stereo playing "Rock N Roll All Nite" is good.  Whoever came up with this idea was very clever.

Bob Ezrin helped write these two.  They are certainly better produced than anything KISS had done.  The phone-booth recording effect is gone, as is the mud sound that ruined Hotter than Hell and damaged Dressed to Kill.

By the way, whoever edited Double Platinum is an asshole.  He ruined "Detroit Rock City."  Whatever they had to pay that dude, they should have paid him to just leave the songs alone.

"God of Thunder," the studio version, is terrible.  The little kid/dwarf/catamite talking in the background is discomfiting.  The song is way too slow and sparse.  Live, "God of Thunder" is actually a great track.  Whoever decided to go with this version, mega-producer or not, was wrong.

"Great Expectations," as chronicled in comedy bits, is a terrible joke.  The narrator is, in fact, suggesting that the woman/women being addressed have "great expectations" to sleep with him (or at least give him a handjob).  The choir is unnecessary and stupid.  This track is embarrassing.

"Flaming Youth" is standard Ace Frehley writing for Paul.  It's anthemic in the way that Ace writes.  It's a bit silly, but not bad.  The carousel bit could have been left out.

"Sweet Pain" is not a bad Simmons tune from this era.  It has an interesting guitar sound.  Lyrically, it's the same ground he always covers, this time it's about sadomasochism.  "My whip is always beside me."  Ugh.  Check out the Gene Simmons sex video (or don't!).  For someone who has been with so many women, Gene is not exactly the most sophisticated boudoirist.  I apologize if I introduced the concept of this video to anyone who didn't know about it.

"Shout it Out Loud" is a lame, lame, LAME followup to "Rock N Roll All Nite."  You can't sit down and write a sequel to your #1 ballad, although you can try.  One of the most overrated songs in the catalog.  Where the first was fun and goofy, this is forced and didactic.  They're ordering us to have fun in the name of KISS.  We decline.

"Beth."  Beth, Beth, Beth.  If this song hadn't been recorded by a makeup wearing, blood drooling, firework shooting group of terrifying clowns, America would have laughed at it, or more likely, ignored it.  But listening to the freak in the cat makeup croon about a woman other than his wife (disputed, but this is the version I'm going with) touched the heart of many people.  There's no accounting for taste.

"Do You Love Me?" is actually a good Stanley song.  It's actually kind of about something, which is maybe Bob Ezrin's contribution, but I doubt it.  Paul sometimes writes about things that other people can understand, unlike, say, Gene, who only writes about dirty women, and Ace, who writes about things that pop into the mind of a drug-addled escapee from Stranger in a Strange Land (the Heinlein novel, not the Iron Maiden album).

"Untitled," which is coupled with "Do You Love Me" on the CD, is exactly the type of crap you would expect Bob Ezrin to stick on the end of an album.

Wikipedia sum up:


Quote
Rolling Stone referred to "bloated ballads," "pedestrian drumming," and "lackluster performances" in its review.

Uh huh.  (The expression, not the John Cougar Mellencamp album).




NB: My iTunes brought up, in addition to the songs on Destroyer, the following tracks: "Destroyer" by the Kinks, "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and "Search and Destroy" by the Stooges.  I don't like the Stooges, but the other two songs would rank about third or fourth best on Destroyer.
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dave from knoxville

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #71 on: June 06, 2009, 05:14:36 PM »
Buffcoat, when this project is complete, could you do the same for Blue Oyster Cult?

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #72 on: June 06, 2009, 06:35:18 PM »
Buffcoat, when this project is complete, could you do the same for Blue Oyster Cult?



Don't fear the reaper, Dave-O.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #73 on: June 07, 2009, 12:05:56 AM »
Buffcoat, when this project is complete, could you do the same for Blue Oyster Cult?



More cowbell, Dave-O.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #74 on: June 07, 2009, 12:08:41 AM »
Buffcoat, when this project is complete, could you do the same for Blue Oyster Cult?


I think you mean Öyster, Dave-O.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!