I’m pretty shocked to be writing these words down but today is the official fortieth anniversary of the debut album by KISS, congratulations to NYC’s own Masked Men of Hard Rock and Roll. The eponymous release came care of Casablanca Records and co-produced by Richie Wise (who some might remember as a member of Dust). At the time of the album’s release the band only been in the makeup that we have come to know and love for a relatively short time so looking back on this cover is like looking into a time capsule. The album is said to have pressed 500K copies and only sold about 75K of them and that is not good at all but this would be the case for its two succeeding albums as well and it’s been historically proven that they would not explode as a force to be reckoned with until their first live album “Alive”. According to numerous interviews, both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have stated that much of the material that we find on “KISS” was already written with some being in use previously when they were a part of Wicked Lester. Years ago I heard “She” by Wicked Lester and it’s surely different from what we have been tuned into for so many years after first hearing it on “Dressed To Kill” but that is an album for a different milestone posting to come. Let’s get back to the point about the debut. For starters the album is almost completely written by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons and while Ace Frehley did write the seminal concert classic “Cold Gin” he does not sing it and the job falls to Gene. Ace will not showcase his voice until “Love Gun” with “Shock Me”. Peter on the other hand sings on a few numbers but was not responsible for any of the writing.
Scanning over the songs on this one there are no less than eight iconic numbers with two amounting to a bit of a lesser stature and so many of these tunes still find themselves worked into the touring set of the band some forty years later. Now I didn’t personally get into KISS until I heard music from “Dressed To Kill” on the “Alive” album when radio stations everywhere were playing “Rock and Roll All Nite” and since I was still very young, it would not be until around “Love Gun” that I was even able to purchase an album but once I could I would return to the beginning and immerse myself in their sound. “Strutter” was probably one of the first songs that I learned to play drums along to and whenever I would jam KISS standard with friends I was called upon to do the Peter Criss vocal parts for both “Nothin’ To Lose” and “Black Diamond”. Sadly no one ever bothered to learn “Kissin’ Time” which I have developed an affinity for after so many years. “KISS” is still an album that I can play from front to back whenever I decide that I want to hear something from it and as it reaches its 40th birthday I can honestly say that it still gives me a charge of musical energy. If I had to answer what my own top three tracks were from the album I would say in no particular order that I rank “Black Diamond”, “Strutter” and “Deuce” as the highest. Of course as I finish the sentence I realize I really, really also love “Nothin’ To Lose” and “Firehouse” – oh the hell with limiting my choices and add those on as well. What are your favorite songs from the KISS debut? You can answer in the comments section which I will leave open for you and now it’s time for me to close up this little milestone reflection and get back to other postings. Congratulations again KISS and thanks for being the band that always does it for me. I am a lifer without question.
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
In today’s music world KISS still tours as a very active band but gone are Peter and Ace and in their place are Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer who each sport those legacy members facepaint. Some fans are up in arms about it but it’s clearly branding the most recognizable faces and it is what it is. The band was recently named as a Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame honoree and is counting down the days to the official induction ceremony.
Official Website: www.kissonline.com
Official Album Wiki Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_%28Kiss_album%29
The KISS catalog was remastered a number of years ago and while there were “some” cases of expanded liner notes, the fans would not receive any sort of bonus tracks to enjoy. Truth be told when these first were done this kind of thing was not a common practice. My link is to the remastered edition of the album.
Back in 2006 I reviewed the remastered “KISS” album and that narrative can be revisited HERE