There sure are a lot of music milestones to address this year and many of them I don’t mind at all because it’s fun to reflect on a particular albums importance in my own world along with that of the larger populace around me. This is especially a treat when we are talking about the absolutely seminal, must have this in your music collection without a doubt album by KISS, the one and only “Destroyer”. This was the bands fourth album and followed that other iconic release “Alive” and for many fans of my own vintage (or close to it) is the album that molded ones KISS appreciation into a diehard allegiance. Personally speaking I had been hearing KISS on the radio since “Dressed To Kill” as I knew some tunes from that and “Alive” and while I would hear “Destroyer” in the same fashion, I would not yet be purchasing albums all that easily. Music purchasing power was still in the hands of the parents and I would begin my own KISS commerce with “Alive II”. Sorry, I’m going off track here a little bit so where was I – Oh yeah “Destroyer”.
While I would purchase “Destroyer” a few years after its initial release, I was well accustomed to the larger body of work that was present here and it was an album that spoke to me from beginning to end. I was getting heavily into music as sports barely interested me and since I was a diehard comic book fan, the image of the band as these larger than life super-heroes on the cover of the album was a complete win for my young mind. Just imagine that. KISS as super-heroes I would think to myself. What a cool comic book that would make, and while it was not something that happened when “Destroyer” first came out they would be featured in the debut issue of “Marvel Comics Super Special” in 1977 and face off against Doctor Doom. The album cover itself was a painting by the great Ken Kelly who would also do “Love Gun” in a couple of years. I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Kelly at a Toy Fair not too long ago and when I shook his hand I just had to thank him for leaving such an iconic image in all of the KISS Army members minds. It was thanks to this incredible painting that KISS took on the larger than life personas that each character showcased. Paul as the Starchild and front man extraordinaire was a contrast to the outer space resident stuck on Earth in the Space Ace who shredded the galaxy with guitar riffs. The thunder beneath them from Catman Peter Criss drove the band forward while Hell’s own Demon Gene Simmons spewed fire and blood and seemed every bit the monster from your darkest nightmares. Awesome stuff for sure. “Destroyer” as an album just had so many stand-out tracks for me as a fan and let’s take a glance at the original album listing.
1. Detroit Rock City
2. King Of The Night Time World
3. God Of Thunder
4. Great Expectations
5. Flaming Youth
6. Sweet Pain
7. Shout It Out Loud
9. Do You Love Me
10. Rock and Roll Party (instrumental/hidden track)
As I review the tracks once again for this milestone glass raising I have to say that I really cannot find any track that I don’t like across the whole release. Alright, so perhaps the “Rock and Roll Party” hidden track would be the least favorite because it always felt to me like something that was just tossed into the final moments on the album and is not really a hidden track of some note. It’s a few lines of Paul commentary and crowd yelling. I didn’t like “Sweet Pain” as a tune as much as the other tracks but that is it. Everything else still rings as timeless to me. In many of our past reflections I’ve mentioned that I played drums and was rather active at this for many years. Even though it’s been some time since doing so, I would probably be able to play “Destroyer” from front to back without even giving it a once over before trying again. To this very day my absolute favorite tracks fall to “Detroit Rock City”, “King Of The Night Time World”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “Do You Love Me” and “Flaming Youth”. I know I’ve already said how I found little fault across the release but these are the to die for tunes in my humble opinion. I liked these tracks the best because they were heavier than anything I was currently listening to and while this was listed as “Hard Rock” it did have some “Heavy Metal” drive to it and was best played at maximum volume. I did have a soft spot for “Beth” but who didn’t based on just how much radio play it received. In today’s world that song is a part of a car commercial – oh well, at least its paying someone out. Please be sure to cite your own in the comments section along with your thoughts about this album as well.
While I often leave off many of the deep album details in these posts because ALL of that is already available on Wikipedia, I will say that the recording was produced by the great Bob Ezrin and done in Electric Lady Studios in NYC in between the bands touring cycle. According to Paul Stanley the album sold well upon release and did about 850K copies and would receive a gold status in April of its release year. Critics were rough on it, especially Rolling Stone but honestly when did they ever really know what they were talking about. The album featured songwriting from all members of the group (Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss) who paired up with Ezrin on a few numbers and Kim Fowley on others. This was apparently the first KISS album to feature outside players and in addition to the philharmonic being a part of the release, guitarist Dick Wagner did lead guitar on two tracks and acoustic on “Beth”.
I’ve been spinning the CD in the background as I wrote all of this up and I have to say that the album still finds me singing along to the tracks and doing the occasional air guitar and drums when I needed to think about what to type next. Congratulations KISS on delivering such an album to your fans because it is indeed a milestone now on its fortieth birthday. Thanks for the incredible music and lets close out by raising our glasses once more to “Destroyer”. Remember to always “Shout It Out Loud”. Below you’ll find images of my original KISS “Destroyer” LP which I pulled out of my music library archives for this posting. Yeah I have the remastered CD as well, but this seemed to be better for the kind of presentation I was doing. I tell you that Ken Kelly art still takes my breath away……
The insert sleeve was double sided and the first side gave us the KISS logo and the lyrics for the song that would be the bands opening number for many years to come with “Detroit Rock City”.
The other side was the rallying cry for the fans and the mighty KISS Army. We should always “Shout It Out Loud!!!”
The great wall relief was observed in a popular Rock bar in NYC called the Three Of Cups Lounge.
The original LP was remastered back in 2000 I think and while we don’t have a special edition anniversary issue to celebrate with, Universal Music did issue a piece called “Destroyer” Resurrected. This album is a remixed issue by Bob Ezrin and offers a slightly cleaner and crisper sound to many of the tracks and lets you also hear nuances that you might not have heard easily on the original work. It’s nice to have for sure if you are a diehard KISS fan.
Official Website: http://www.kissonline.com
Official Website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroyer_%28Kiss_album%29