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3.58 | 35 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1974

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Strutter (3:12)
2. Nothin' To Lose (3:27)
3. Firehouse (3:18)
4. Cold Gin (4:22)
5. Let Me Know (2:59)
6. Kissin' Time (3:53)
7. Deuce (3:06)
8. Love Theme From Kiss (2:24)
9. 100,000 Years (3:23)
10. Black Diamond (5:14)

Total Time 35:22


- Paul Stanley / rhythm guitars, vocals
- Ace Frehley / lead guitars, vocals
- Gene Simmons / bass, vocals
- Peter Criss / drums, vocals

- Bruce Foster / piano (track 2)

About this release

Release date: February 18, 1974
Label: Casablanca Records

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KISS KISS reviews

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It's crazy to believe that this uninspiring release would spawn one of the most iconic and legendary rock bands in history. Though, what Kiss would lack in memorable hits they certainly made up for in marketability. Admittedly, I've always had a soft spot for the band. In fact, it was their 'Destroyer' album that changed the life of 12 year-old me back in 1999 when it introduced me to rock music. So going back to the bands early albums has sadly failed to live up to expectations.

Not that there really were any expectations to begin with, mind you. Kiss have always had a penchant for dumb, womanizing, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll anthems, but their biggest trait has always been their image and their ability to sell products. Especially when their early albums were as lacklustre as this one.

Featuring ten tracks that top in at 35 minutes, 'Kiss' is a very raw release that is very straight forward and to the point. Songs about women, partying, drinking and more partying is the name of the game, but none of these songs are as noteworthy as the groups later material.

If I had to be generous, 'Strutter', 'Cold Gin' and 'Let Me Know' are alright, but pale in comparison to albums like 'Destroyer', 'Love Gun' and 'Creatures of the Night', and considering a lot of the other rock bands that were around in 1974, it's not hard to imagine where this band would be right now if not for their iconic face paint and stage shows.

Still, it's Kiss. How can you be mad at them?
Kiss, I would argue, have a real claim to being the true inventors of glam metal. The American incarnation of glam rock always tended to be a bit heavier than the UK version, of course, but neither of its other main proponents - Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls - qualified as metal in 1973. Alice Cooper were working in a hard rock mould with the occasional foray into experimental, almost progressive rock territories, whilst the New York Dolls were taking the Stooges playbook and, despite the glam twist, remained solidly in a proto-punk approach.

No, of those three it's Kiss who can claim in 1973 to have fused the fledgling metal genre with the glam craze to create glam metal, and it's on this album that they did it. Many of the tracks would later get superior (and heavier) live renditions on Kiss' Alive series, of course, but the album remains a wonderful 35-minute party on a disc. Keeping away from experimentalism (aside from the slowed-down outro to Black Diamond), the band debut a number of classic cuts that still form key parts of their repertoire - the aforementioned Black Diamond, Strutter, Cold Gin and Deuce.

But that said, the album's far from perfect. Love Theme from Kiss is clearly filler, Kissin' Time (the hastily-written single that the record company demanded) likewise. And Nothin' To Lose and Firehouse are both kind of repetitive and clunky. Still, when the album catches fire it's a great ride. On the whole, it's a good album but if you've got the first Alive album you already own better versions of the best songs on it. It'd be four stars were it not for that filler, and three stars if the filler weren't mercifully brief.
The debut Kiss album is a very inconsistent attempt at producing the type of blazing sound they were producing on the live stage. The makeup was still in its early stage, it is rare to see Peter’s cat whiskers looking like they do on the cover, and Gene’s bat makeup is completely different than later years, and Ace’s starry eyes are shinier than he will settle with; so this is the birth of the hottest band in the world. But does it deliver? Not really.

As a teen growing up with Kiss I had looked forward to this zany band that were on the charts with “I wanna rock and roll all night, and party everyday!” Nothing on this album comes close to THAT song, but there are some fantastic moments that are genuinely heavy and memorable. ‘Strutter’ kicks things off with Paul singing in trademark vocal style, he really blasts this one out. The riff is bluesy and hard. Ace’s solo is simplistic but effective. This became a staple for many a live show to come.

‘Nothin' to Lose’ is sung primarily by Peter with raspy Rod Stewart vocals and it is satisfactory, though much better in live performances.

‘ Firehouse’ is the Gene-breathing –fire number, giving him an excuse to spurt flames at the end. The song is OK but much better again live, as this is rather a thin production.

‘Cold Gin’ is rather subdued here compare to the raucous live version. They were much more controlled in the studio and nowhere near as heavy as what they were capable of. The lyrics here are excellent, “My heater’s fused I am so tired, I need your fuse to build the fire, The girl next door her lights are out, The landlord’s gone I’m down and out”, they were one of a kind lyrically. It was always simple and loads of fun, nothing serious about Kiss, just partying.

‘Let Me Know’ only appears on this album and it features one good thing, the end part, a very cool instrumental.

‘Kissin' Time’ was always a fun song for me with a cool groove, but is rather dated these days.

‘Deuce’ is a bonafide Kiss Klassic that used to begin their shows. The riff is awesome and it has a wonderful Ace solo.

‘Love Theme from Kiss’ is a strange one, a genuine throwaway instrumental.

‘100,000 Years’ is one of my favourite tracks live, but this version is once again not very heavy, it is still a good song.

‘Black Diamond’ is the perfect album closer and I love this studio version that slows right down at the end, which used to freak me out as a young teen listening to this. It still rocks hard even by today’s standards.

Overall the debut has some shining moments, but is not very heavy. The songs on this are best heard live and then you really discover how heavy these progenitors of heavy rock actually can sound. It is a beginning but they were capable of so much more.

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