“Why the hell should I like… ?” is an experiment of sorts between Popblerd and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. What we’re going to attempt to do is to pick 10 songs from our favorite artists — one for which the other has professed dislike or disinterest — and show them why they’re wrong.
This is both the easiest and yet hardest Why the Hell Should I Like piece I’ve written yet. Easy because Kiss was my first musical love, and I’ve been a fan for the better part of three decades. Hard because it’s really difficult for me to be objective about Kiss, and distinguish between songs I love because they’re legitimately great and songs I love mostly because I’m a fan.
The challenge before me is this — what songs do I pick that a) you probably haven’t heard all that much and b) are legitimately good? And do I focus on the band’s 1970s heyday or dip into their more spotty ’80s output too? Do I stick to the band’s bread and butter — simple and catchy hard rock — or go off the beaten path and provide examples of their forays into power pop, semi-progressive rock, and other styles? So many choices…
- “Deuce” (from Alive!, 1975) — As much as I love the first three Kiss studio albums, Alive! is probably the album most responsible for turning me into a diehard. It’s a perfect example of why Kiss was and still is such a potent concert act, even if it was tinkered with in the studio after the fact. “Deuce” is one of the band’s trademark songs, and a perfect opener for their live sets and this list.
- “Getaway” (from Dressed to Kill, 1975) — I bet you didn’t expect to hear a track like this, did you? Once in a while Kiss shifts into an almost power pop mode, and it usually is awesome. Peter Criss takes lead vocals on this track, which absolutely pops and sizzles the whole way. And oh yeah, another short but sweet Ace Frehley solo.
- “Sweet Pain” (from Destroyer, 1976) — Yep, this is a song about S&M. It’s also ridiculously catchy and notable for the fact that the guitar solo was actually played by Dick Wagner from Alice Cooper’s band.
- “Save Your Love” (from Dynasty, 1979) — Sure, Kiss has recorded their fair share of songs about sex, but they could spit venom with the best of them. Ace Frehley in particular knew how to write some pretty badass breakup songs, and this is one of his best.
- “The Oath” (from Music From “The Elder”, 1981) — The Elder, in case you’re wondering, is a movie that Gene Simmons had in his head but never got made. So how is it that Kiss ended up recording a soundtrack for it? Damned if I know. All I know is that there is a vocal minority of fans who swear by the album, which found the band stretching their musical horizons into the progressive rock world. It flopped, but not because it was bad. If nothing else, this should dispel the notion that Kiss is nothing but cock rock.
- “Danger” (from Creatures of the Night, 1982) — Kiss took it on the chin in a big way with Elder, and so they needed to prove their rock cred once again. I’d say they succeeded nicely. Damn, that Eric Carr drum sound is epic!
- “Young and Wasted” (from Lick It Up, 1983) — No, this isn’t an ode to getting drunk. Gene would have none of that! Actually I’m not sure what this is about. I just know that it’s heavy, it grooves, and proves that Vinnie Vincent’s talent at lead guitar is obscured only by his ego and self-destructive nature.
- “Unholy” (from Revenge, 1992) — Credit Kiss with this much — they were smart enough to realize that in 1992 there was no way they could continue releasing glossy, radio-friendly hair metal and expect to survive much longer. So they went back to basics and released their best album in at least 15 years, Revenge. This may not be the best song on the album, but it’s certainly the baddest.
- “In the Mirror” (from Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions, 1997) — This was recorded as the followup to Revenge, but was temporarily shelved when the band announced their reunion in 1996. It’s clearly indebted to bands like Alice In Chains, but is a little more accessible. Eric Singer absolutely smokes on this track.
- “Modern Day Delilah” (from Sonic Boom, 2009) — I’m not thrilled with the fact that Kiss continues to put Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer in Ace Frehley and Peter Criss’s costumes and makeup, but if they can keep writing songs like this I can learn to live with it. This whole album is a lot better than it has any right to be.
- 10 things you probably didn’t know about Kiss (grayflannelsuit.net)
- KISS Memoir Hitting Stores in the Summer of 2012 (noisecreep.com)
- Listening booth – Kiss, “Escape From The Island” (grayflannelsuit.net)
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