KISS: Their Top 10 Deep Cuts
Men of my fathers' generation usually show mistrust in any guy that doesn't enjoy a good, stiff drink. For men of my age bracket the general rule is this: Never trust any male who didn't have a childhood obsession with KISS.
For many children of the seventies like me, KISS was the first band to not only capture my imagination, but showed me the way around a good riff as well. Who cares if all their sexual innuendo went over my second grade head or their crass commercialism sent my parents to the poor house? All that matters is they showed me music can move friggin' mountains; and no amount of reality TV shows or KISS condoms will soil that memory in my mind.
In a few weeks they will be releasing Monster, their 20th studio album. In celebration, we present ten Kiss songs from their golden years that you won't find on the jukebox down at your local tavern or blasting from any nearby muscle car. So strap yourself in for this deep ride down memory lane.
"100,000 Years" from KISS (1974)
I think I find this track so significant due to it being the first time I ever heard anyone curse on a record. But that's not the only reason it's on this list. Only KISS could twist such a heavy groove around a shuffle beat. Throw in one of the best leads ever taken by Ace and you got one of the band's strongest early efforts.
"Comin' Home" from Hotter Than Hell (1974)
Do yourself a favor and forget the version they did on MTV Unplugged back in the '90s and turn up this original version 'til the knob snaps off. Simple yet affective; like a cinderblock wrapped in bubblegum.
"Anything for My Baby" from Dressed to Kill (1975)
Yet another amazing pop tune wrapped in steal and leather. People forget that underneath the blood and make-up, these guys were tunesmiths. Here's the proof.
"King of the Night Time World" from Destroyer (1976)
OK, so this one isn't all that obscure, but you can't deny that it's just a top notch tune. This collaboration with the genius Kim Fowley is the ultimate in teen exploitation; something Fowley knows a thing or two about.
"Mr. Speed" from Rock 'N' Roll All Over (1976)
Some bastards have tried to claim this song is just a rip-off of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Gimme Three Steps." What horse pucky! All this song shows is the boys weren't afraid to try their hand at some simple Southern boogie rock. The results are – of course – spectacular.
"Almost Human" from Love Gun (1977)
This Gene Simmons composition has a relentlessly decadent groove. Sit back and imagine the white shag-carpeted oasis this must have been written in.
"Wouldn't You Like To Know Me?" from Paul Stanley (1978)
When the four KISS solo records came out simultaneously in 1978, there was a lot to pick through; and most it wasn't really worth the picking. Anyone remember Gene's cover of "When You Wish Upon a Star"? Personally, I'd like to forget it. But Paul knew what the fans wanted: straight-ahead heavy power pop. Sounds just as good now as it did then.
"Snowblind" from Ace Frehley (1978)
Yes, the sentiment of this song went way over my head at seven years old. All I knew back then was the song was heavy as hell and made me want to ball up my fists. It still provokes the same reaction over thirty years later, so I guess that's cool.
"2000 Man" from Dynasty (1979)
What possessed Ace Frehley to cover this Rolling Stones obscurity is anyone's guess, but he might have ended up making it even weirder than the original. If you have your doubts, take a listen.
"Talk to Me" from Unmasked (1980)
By this point in time, there were a lot of bands burning up the charts with what the critics were calling 'power pop.' Ace pulled this gem out of his back pocket to show them how it's done. Say what you will, but you know if someone told you this was some unreleased Dwight Twilley track, you probably wouldn't blink twice.
Tony Rettman is a freelance music journalist whose work has appeared in The Village Voice, Vice, Philadelphia Weekly, Arthur, Swindle, Signal to Noise and Mean. His 2010 book Why Be Something That You're Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985, is a must-read for any fan of heavy music and can be purchased on Amazon.