Kiss (Kiss album)

Last updated
Kiss
Kiss first album cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 18, 1974 [1]
RecordedOctober–November 1973; April 1974 ("Kissin' Time")
StudioBell Sound Studios, New York City
Genre
Length35:11
Label Casablanca
Producer
  • Kenny Kerner
  • Richie Wise
Kiss chronology
Kiss
(1974)
Hotter Than Hell
(1974)
Singles from Kiss
  1. "Nothin' to Lose"
    Released: February 18, 1974
  2. "Kissin' Time"
    Released: May 10, 1974
  3. "Strutter"
    Released: August 10, 1974
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [3]
Vista RecordsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [4]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [5]
Blender Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [6]
Pitchfork (8.0) [7]
Metal NightfallStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg [8]
J.C.Islas CollectionsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svg

Kiss is the debut studio album by American rock band Kiss, released on February 8, 1974. Much of the material on the album was written by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, as members of their pre-Kiss band Wicked Lester. Simmons estimated that the entire process of recording and mixing took three weeks, while co-producer Richie Wise has stated it took just 13 days. [9]

Kiss (band) American band

Kiss is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973 by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley. Well known for its members' face paint and stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid-to-late 1970s with their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and pyrotechnics. The band has gone through several lineup changes, with Stanley and Simmons the only remaining original members. The original and best-known lineup consisted of Stanley, Simmons, Frehley, and Criss.

Gene Simmons American musician

Gene Klein (born Chaim Witz, known professionally as Gene Simmons, is an Israeli-American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, actor, author, and television personality. Also known by his stage persona The Demon, he is the bassist and co-lead singer of Kiss, the rock band he co-founded with lead singer and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley in the early 1970s.

Paul Stanley American hard rock guitarist, musician, singer-songwriter and painter

Stanley Bert Eisen, known professionally by his stage name Paul Stanley, is an American musician, singer, songwriter and painter best known for being the rhythm guitarist and singer of the rock band Kiss. He is the writer or co-writer of many of the band's highest-charting hits. Stanley established The Starchild character for his Kiss persona.

Contents

Album information

The album was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York City, which was owned by the company that owned Buddah Records. Neil Bogart, founder of Casablanca Records, was an executive at Buddah prior to forming Casablanca. [9] Casablanca Records held a party at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the West Coast release of Kiss (February 8) and to introduce the record company to the press and other record industry executives.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, often called New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Buddah Records record label

Buddah Records was an American record label founded in 1967 in New York City. The label was born out of Kama Sutra Records, an MGM Records-distributed label, which remained a key imprint following Buddah's founding. Buddah handled a variety of music genres, including bubblegum pop, folk-rock (Melanie), experimental music, and soul.

Neil E. Bogart was an American record executive. He is perhaps best remembered as the founder of Casablanca Records.

In keeping with the Casablanca theme, the party included palm trees and a Humphrey Bogart lookalike. Kiss performed their usual loud and bombastic stage show, which turned Warner Bros. Records (Casablanca's record distributor) against the group. [9] Soon after the show, Warner Bros. contacted Neil Bogart and threatened to end their deal with Casablanca if Kiss did not remove their makeup. With manager Bill Aucoin's backing, Kiss refused. Shortly after the release of Kiss, Warner Bros. released Casablanca from their contract. [9]

Arecaceae family of plants

The Arecaceae are a botanical family of perennial plants. Their growth form can be climbers, shrubs, trees and stemless plants, all commonly known as palms. Those having a tree form are colloquially called palm trees. They are flowering plants, a family in the monocot order Arecales. Currently 181 genera with around 2600 species are known, most of them restricted to tropical and subtropical climates. Most palms are distinguished by their large, compound, evergreen leaves, known as fronds, arranged at the top of an unbranched stem. However, palms exhibit an enormous diversity in physical characteristics and inhabit nearly every type of habitat within their range, from rainforests to deserts.

Humphrey Bogart American actor

Humphrey DeForest Bogart was an American film and stage actor. His performances in numerous films from the Classical Hollywood era made him a cultural icon. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked him as the greatest male star of American cinema.

Warner Bros. Records American record label

Warner Bros. Records Inc. is an American record label owned by Warner Music Group and headquartered in Burbank, California. It was founded in 1958 as the recorded music division of the American film studio Warner Bros., and was one of a group of labels owned and operated by larger parent corporations for much of its existence. The sequence of companies that controlled Warner Bros. and its allied labels evolved through a convoluted series of corporate mergers and acquisitions from the early 1960s to the early 2000s. Over this period, Warner Bros. Records grew from a struggling minor player in the music industry to one of the top record labels in the world.

Kiss began their first album tour with a performance at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, Alberta on February 5, 1974. A few weeks later, they made their first national TV appearance on ABC's In Concert , followed by a performance of "Firehouse" on The Mike Douglas Show . During the interview portion of the show, Gene Simmons declared himself to be "evil incarnate", eliciting nervousness, confused reactions from the studio audience, to which comedian Totie Fields humorously commented, "Wouldn't it be funny if he's just a nice Jewish boy underneath the makeup?" Although neither confirming or denying his Jewish heritage, Simmons replied, "You should only know", to which, Fields countered, "I do. You can't hide the hook", referring to Simmons' nose.

Edmonton Provincial capital city in Alberta, Canada

Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta's central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the "Calgary–Edmonton Corridor".

Alberta Province in Canada

Alberta is a western province of Canada. With an estimated population of 4,067,175 as of 2016 census, it is Canada's fourth most populous province and the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces. Its area is about 660,000 square kilometres (250,000 sq mi). Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905. The premier has been Rachel Notley since May 2015.

<i>In Concert</i> (TV series) late-night television series

In Concert is a late-night television series created by Don Kirshner. Hosted by Don Branker, the series was a showcase for bands of the era to be taped "in concert" and then broadcast on ABC on Friday nights.

The album's cover showed the group positioned against a black background in a pose visually reminiscent of the Beatles' With the Beatles album (Peter Criss stated that this was the visual effect the band was looking for). Gene Simmons has since stated that Meet The Beatles was a big inspiration to him. Three of the four band members applied their own makeup for the album cover photo, as they usually did, but Criss' "Catman" makeup was applied by a professional, whose work came out looking quite a bit different from the look Criss had established, and to which he would return immediately afterward. Ace Frehley, wanting to impress the other members of Kiss, dyed his hair with silver hairspray, which easily came out with shampoo. [9] According to Criss, photographer Joel Brodsky thought Kiss were literally clowns, and wanted to place balloons behind the group for the shoot. [10] Brodsky denied this, chalking it up to imagination. [9] As this was also the first album for the group, they still had yet to perfect the look they would come to be known for later on. For example, Simmons' "Demon" makeup, while noticeable as his, appears rough and not in the definitive form he later became known for.

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to pop music's evolution into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated classical elements, older pop forms and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and later experimented with several musical styles ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As the members continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they were seen as an embodiment of the era's sociocultural movements.

<i>With the Beatles</i> 1963 studio album by The Beatles

With the Beatles is the second studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. It was released on 22 November 1963, on Parlophone, and was recorded four months after the band's debut Please Please Me. The album features eight original compositions and six covers. The cover photograph was taken by the fashion photographer Robert Freeman, and it has been mimicked by several music groups over the years.

Peter Criss American drummer

George Peter John Criscuola, better known by his stage name Peter Criss, is a retired American musician and actor, best known as a co-founder, original drummer, and occasional vocalist of the hard rock band Kiss. Criss established The Catman character for his Kiss persona. In 2014, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Kiss.

Composition

With the exception of "Kissin' Time", all of the material for Kiss was written before the band entered the studio. Some of the songs were written during Wicked Lester's brief existence, while "Firehouse" was written by Paul Stanley while he was attending the High School of Music & Art in New York City. [9]

The High School of Music & Art, informally known as "Music & Art", was a public alternative high school located at 443-465 West 135th Street in the borough of Manhattan, New York, from 1936 until 1984. In 1961, Music & Art and the High School of Performing Arts were formed into a two campus high school. The schools fully merged in 1984 into the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & the Arts.

Side one

"Strutter"

"Strutter", which opens the album with a drum fill, is an uptempo rock song that was written before Frehley joined Kiss. Stanley wrote the lyrics, and the music was based on a song Simmons had written years before, "Stanley the Parrot", [9] which he had recorded with former Wicked Lester member Brooke Ostrander in a New Jersey apartment. "Strutter" remains one of the few Kiss songs where Stanley and Simmons share songwriting credits, and was a standard number at Kiss concerts throughout the 1970s. It was released in August 1974 as the third and final single from the album.

"Nothin' to Lose"

"Nothin' to Lose" became the band's first single; it was written by Simmons. Vocals were performed by Simmons and Peter Criss. It chronicles the singer coercing his girlfriend into trying anal sex, and her subsequent enjoyment of it. The B-side was "Love Theme from KISS", the album's instrumental.

"Firehouse"

The North Carolina glam metal band FireHouse takes its name from the song "Firehouse".[ citation needed ] The song is well known for Simmons fire breathing during live concerts.

"Cold Gin"

This was the first song composed for Kiss by Frehley. Insecure in his own singing ability, Frehley turned over the vocals for the album to Simmons. "Cold Gin" was a concert staple throughout the 1970s. During the Alive/Worldwide Tour, Frehley assisted on lead vocals.

The song refers to the stimulating effect that cold gin supposedly has on the male sex drive. The song credits cold gin as the only thing that keeps the couple together in a troubled relationship.

There was a Kiss tribute band from Los Angeles named after this classic song, featuring Tommy Thayer as Frehley, Jaime St. James as Criss, Chris McLernon as Simmons and Anthony White as Stanley. St. James and Thayer would later go on to form Black 'N Blue, a band produced by Simmons, and Thayer would eventually join Kiss, taking Frehley's place after the Farewell tour.

"Cold Gin" was covered by the alternative metal group Disturbed at a one-off tribute show to Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, as it was known to be the guitarist's favorite song. That live performance featured members of Drowning Pool and Anthrax, David Draiman on vocals and Vinnie Paul on drums.

Pantera and Skid Row performed the song together live while the bands were on tour together in 1992, with Ace Frehley on guitar as a special guest. The performance was taped and included on Pantera's 2000 home video, 3 Vulgar Videos from Hell . Death Angel covered the song on their 1988 album Frolic Through the Park .

Frehley noted: "I wrote 'Cold Gin' in a New York subway, in my head, both lyrics and music. I had a spiral notebook with me. I never took a guitar lesson, nobody believes that. I didn't realize it was gonna become a Kiss classic".

A live version of the song was included on Kiss' popular and successful live album Alive! . When Alive! was re-released as part of the Kiss Alive! 1975–2000 box set, the song was mistakenly credited to Stanley instead of Ace Frehley in the 72-page booklet that accompanied the album.

Weezer vocalist and guitarist Rivers Cuomo has said that this was the first song he ever learned to play on guitar. [11]

"Cold Gin" was named the seventh-best drinking song of all time. [12]

Ace Frehley later rerecorded "Cold Gin" with his own vocals for his cover album, Origins, Vol. 1 .

"Let Me Know"

"Let Me Know" (previously titled "Sunday Driver") was the song Stanley played when he was first introduced to Simmons, and it was later recorded by Wicked Lester. Simmons and Stanley shared lead vocal duties on the song, which was given a bridge and instrumental coda when recorded for Kiss. [9] During later Kiss concerts, this coda was moved to the end of "She" and before that, "Watchin' You".

Side two

"Kissin' Time"

"Kissin' Time" was not included on the original album; in fact it was not recorded until two months after the album's February release. By April, the album was clearly not the commercial success the band and Casablanca Records founder Bogart were hoping for. Bogart (who knew that a catchy single could save the album) ordered Kiss back into the studio to record "Kissin' Time", which was a Top 20 hit for Bobby Rydell in 1959. It was released as a single on May 10, but never reached any higher than No. 83. It did, however, boost sales of the album even though it was not added to the album until it was reissued in July 1974 (against the wishes of the band). [9]

"Deuce"

Simmons has stated that he does not know the meaning of the song's lyrics. [9] "Deuce" has been a staple of the band's concerts, opening their shows from 1973–1976 and again for their 1996 reunion.

"Love Theme from Kiss"

This instrumental evolved from a song titled "Acrobat", played during the band's 1973 club shows. It can be found on their 2001 box set. The song is shortened for the album. It is the only Kiss song to feature songwriting credits for all four original members. "Love Theme from Kiss" appeared in the 2010 movie Somewhere , directed by Sofia Coppola.

"100,000 Years"

"100,000 Years" begins with a bass riff by Simmons. The live version includes a long drum solo by Criss continuing on from the short one found on the album, as heard on Alive! The demo version can be heard on the 2001 release of the Kiss box set. There was a lost verse towards the end of the song which never made the final cut.

"Black Diamond"

"Black Diamond" begins with Stanley singing the first verse accompanied by a twelve-string acoustic guitar. After he yells out "hit it!", the full band kicks in and Criss assumes lead vocal duties, repeating the first verse. After the chorus, the song slows down for Frehley's guitar solo, after which it gradually slows down further and fades out. After Criss' departure from the band, the vocal duties have fallen to subsequent drummers Eric Carr and Eric Singer.

Later Re-pressings

In the mid-late 1980s, the album was reissued by Mercury Records on vinyl and cassette with a live version of "Nothin' to Lose" in place of the studio version. The studio version was restored when the album was issued on CD, and on the 2014 vinyl repressing.

Reception

Despite the band's promoting and touring, Kiss sold approximately 75,000 copies after its initial release without the presence of a hit single. [9] It was certified gold on June 8, 1977, having shipped 500,000 copies. [13] The album was re-released in 1997 (along with most of Kiss' earlier albums) in a remastered version.

In 2003, Kiss was included in the Spin list of essential glam rock albums. [14]

Gene Simmons has said that the 1974 self-titled is his favorite Kiss album. [15]

Track listing

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Strutter" Paul Stanley 3:10
2."Nothin' to Lose"Simmons Gene Simmons and Peter Criss 3:27
3."Firehouse"StanleyStanley3:17
4."Cold Gin" Ace Frehley Simmons4:22
5."Let Me Know"StanleySimmons and Stanley2:58
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
6."Kissin' Time"Simmons, Stanley, and Criss3:52
7."Deuce"SimmonsSimmons3:06
8."Love Theme from Kiss"
instrumental2:24
9."100,000 Years"
  • Stanley
  • Simmons
Stanley3:22
10."Black Diamond"StanleyCriss with Stanley5:13
Total length:35:11

Personnel

Kiss

Guest musicians

Production

Charts

Weekly charts

Chart (1974)Peak
position
Weeks on
chart
Canadian Albums Chart [17] 82-
Japanese Albums Chart [18] 545
New Zealand Albums Chart [19] 38-
US Billboard Pop Albums [20] 8722

Singles

SingleChart (1974)Position
"Kissin' Time"US Pop Singles [21] 83

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada) [22] Gold50,000^
United States (RIAA) [13] Gold500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

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Wicked Lester

Wicked Lester was a New York-based rock and roll band that would later become known as Kiss. The band formed in 1970, under the name Rainbow. Two notable members were bassist Gene Klein and rhythm guitarist Stanley Eisen, who later adopted the stage names Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, respectively. In 1971 the band changed their name to Wicked Lester, and recorded an album for Epic Records, which was never officially released.

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