Kiss - Kiss
On February 18, 1974, "Kiss" released their debut eponymous album "Kiss".
This is the day when the seismographic sensors in the music world began to rage, ahead of the earthquake that will bring us one of the greatest and most successful bands of all time. A band that will set new standards for the concept of "show", with crazy performances. A band that their millions of fans around the world will adopt the nickname "Kiss Army".
Apparently there is no American glam hard rock band in the 1970s and 1980s that was not influenced by "Kiss" in one way or another, so this debut album is where it all started.
It's amazing to think how this album, includes such immortal songs like "Deuce", "Black Diamond", "Firehouse", "Strutter" and "Cold Gin", which to this day star in the band's setlists. Wht's even more amazing is that this album was almost completely ignored when it was released and in other cases was badly criticized. The only reason that seems logical to us for this dissonance, is probably the huge gap between the way the band looked and sounded in their energetic and bombastic performances and the relatively clean and polished sound of this album that failed to convey the "real thing" to the audience.
The roots of this album are planted in a band called "Wicked Lester", consisted of singer and guitarist Paul Stanley and singer and bassist Gene Simmons, aka Chaim Witz who was born and raised in The Krayot, Haifa, Israel. During their time together in "Wicked Lester", Stanley and Simmons recorded an album in 1972, that was eventually not released and that excerpts from it will appear in a box released by the band "Kiss" in 2001. Disappointed by the unsuccessful attempt, led Simmons and Stanley to the decision that they need to form a new band. They caught sight of an ad published by drummer Peter Criss on August 31, 1972, in which he stated that he was looking for a band that played original material in a soft and heavy rock style. Criss was of course joined the band and on December 14, 1972, while Paul Stanley now published a newspaper ad of his own, about a band looking for a guitarist. One of the respondents to the ad was Ace Frehley whose look initially frightened the other three members, but his playing immediately captivated them, thus completing the classic lineup of "Kiss".
The quartet immediately began working on their debut album, while simultaneously plowing the small stages in pubs and clubs across New York, formulating and polishing their sound, refining and upgrading the crazy show that would become their trademark. Kiss First Concert was held on January 30, 1973 at a small club in Queens, New York, when less than two months later, in March 1973, the band recorded a 5-piece demo tape with legendary producer Eddie Kramer. This recording will help them sign their first recording contract with the "Casablanca Records".
On October 10, 1973, the band entered "Bell Sound" Studios in New York. All the material for the album, except for the song "Kissin' Time", was written by Stanley and Simmons during the time of their previous band "Wicked Lester". The two also shared the lead vocals on most of the album's songs, with the exception of three in which drummer Peter Criss also participated, among them the amazing album ending song “Black Diamond”.
The album opens up with "Strutter" and Criss' short drum intro. A song whose lyrics were written by Paul Stanley and it's melody is based on an old song written by Gene Simmons and called "Stanley the Parrot". The song that was part of the first demo the band ever recorded, was released as the third and final single from the album and is part of the band's setlists. It is interesting to note that in 1978 the band recorded an updated version of the song, included in the "Double Platinum" collection album.
Immediately after comes "Nothin' to Lose", which was the band's first single, probably in light of its catchy and bouncy chorus. Gene Simmons wrote it and shares vocals with Peter Criss. He wrote it as an invitation to experience "other kind" of sex. This is the band's first song featuring an outside artist - Bruce Foster who plays the piano.
"Firehouse" was written by Paul Stanley when he was in high school. He was influenced by the song "Fire Brigade" by "The Move". For those who are interested, Simmons used to spit fire during this song in the bands' performances.
"Cold Gin" is the first song Ace Frehley wrote for the band. It was on the New York subway. He said it just fell on him, everything from the head, both words and music and he had nowhere to write it so he had to remember everything. Ace Frehley who was then insecure as to his singing abilities asked Simmons to sing what would become one of the band's biggest hits. Ace Frehley noted that the song was written about the drink that warms him on cold nights, but there is a more detailed version according to which "cold gin" refers to the so-called stimulating effect it has on the male sexual urge, which manages to maintain a problematic relationship as well. This song received an interesting cover version by "Disturbed" in a tribute show to legendary guitarist Dimebag Darrell. It was his favorite song, which was also performed by "Pantera" and "Skid Row" in 1992, with Ace Frehley being a special guest. The song was also played during Dimebag's funeral.
The song that closes the first side of the album "Let Me Know", was formerly called "Sunday Driver". This is the first song Stanley played for Simmons when he first met him and which the two recorded in their previous band "Wicked Lester". The two also shares the lead vocals in this song.
The other side of the album opens up with "Kissin' Time", written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe. It was not included on the original album at all. In fact, the song was recorded two months after the album was released, because the record company thought that the album was not commercially successful. This song was the first hit for singer Bobby Rydell in 1959 and was released as a single by "Kiss" on May 10, 1974, increasing the album sales. It was included in the reissue of the album released in July 1974, but this was against the band's wishes.
The second track on the other side "Deuce" was written and sung by Gene Simmons who to this day claims he does not know what the lyrics are about. He got the idea when he was on the bus. He got home and completed the writing on his bass guitar. It was the first song Ace Frehley played with the band, when he auditioned and it was the opening song in the band's first live shows.
"Love Theme from Kiss" is an instrumental track that was rolled out of a song called "Acrobat", that the band played at concerts in 1973. The original song can be found in a box released by the band in 2001. To the best of our recollection it is the only track of the band where writing credit was given to all 4 band members.
"100,000 Years" which begins with Simmons' bass riff included a long drum drum solo by Criss during the band's performances. It was inspired by a book that Simmons read by the same name, according to which aliens allegedly visited earth a hundred thousand years ago.
The final track on the album is one of the most beautiful in the "Kiss" catalog. "Black Diamond" was written by Paul Stanley, who also sang the quiet part of the song at the beginning accompanied by the 12-string guitar. After Stanley shouts "Hit It" and the whole band enters drummer Peter Criss takes the lead. The song ends with the chords slams being slowly distorted until the "black" end... After the departure of Peter Criss the drummers who replaced him, Eric Carr and Eric Singer used to perform the song in the bands gigs.
The album cover is a kind of homage to the Beatles' "With The Beatles" album cover. Gene Simmons noted that the Fab Four where a great inspiration for him.
To this day Gene Simmons argues that this is his band's favorite album.