Well, they can’t all be great… wait, wasn’t that the point of the list?
Music is a beautiful thing that we humans get to share with one another. The enjoyment that each of us get from it is subjective, and no one can tell you for you what is good or bad music. My favorite people are those that love music, even if it is music that I don’t care for. For those reasons, I don’t use this blog to denigrate music I don’t care for – or at least I try really hard to avoid doing that. In writing only about music that I find valuable, I can ensure that I am not wasting your time on garbage and limit how much shit talking I engage in.
Having said all of that- thanks, Rolling Stone for making me listen to and talk about this piece of work. Folks, that album cover alone makes me want to drive a nail through my skull. OK, judgement of books by their covers, yes, yes. My mother taught me that if I have nothing nice to say, to say nothing at all. Well, that wouldn’t be great for a blog post, but I will keep this short and relatively sweet.
Going into this, I wasn’t aware of a single KISS song that I truly like. I will admit, I have never done a deep dive of their discography, and don’t plan to. Thanks to RS ranking this #496, I got to listen to this album a few items this week… and, well, I don’t get it. I mean, this is mediocre musicianship and cliché lyrics, but I suppose back in 1976 it was still something relatively fresh?
The album starts with a minute and a half of setup (including a news report of a fatal two-car accident caused by a drunk driver and a snippet of their own “Rock And Roll All Nite”) before the first chords of “Detroit Rock City” kick in. Then, the song ends with the sound of screeching tires and twisting metal. Arguably the best, or at least catchiest song on the record, this exemplifies late-70s arena rock and pretty well sums up KISS at their best.
“King of the Night Time World” is lyrically weak as all Hell, but, again, it is catchy arena-rock with a sing-along chorus. Another example of these fellas doing what they do. “God of Thunder” is a total waste of a decent guitar riff, gleefully exchanging any semblance of coherent writing for an attempt at “dark” shock value. The self-absorbed, grandiose nonsense that is “Great Expectations” is unlistenable. When the lyric “I’m stupid and I’m lazy” is heard on “Flaming Youth”, art imitates life. OK… I swore to keep it short and relatively sweet, damnit!
As for the rest of the album (with the exception of the somewhat redeeming anthem “Shout It Out Loud”), it is pure shtick about being a great band, being great in bed, and needing to party, and hasn’t aged very well. Don’t get me started on “Beth” – oh my. One can’t listen to KISS without feeling like it’s all just a big joke, and it isn’t hard to see how these marketing gurus built a massive following – but you can count me out.
Worthy Tracks: I’m tempted to say none, but “Detroit Rock City”, “King of the Night Time World”, and “Shout It Out Loud” are all classic KISS.
Final Verdict: For 70’s arena glam rock, its fine, I guess. One of the 500 greatest recordings in music history? Hell to the No.
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/59plsPcJYFlSA5ImekNQJ0?si=Q11KuBtOTLm9ge2cMBnNaA