Tuesday, February 18, 2014

'KISS' Turns 40: An Appreciation

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the debut release from one of America’s greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll bands. In an industry where most acts don’t last 40 months, KISS has survived as a recording act for 40 YEARS – not an easy feat by any means. KISS stayed strong through ’70s Easy Listening and Punk, ‘80s New Wave and all the other genres and sub-genres that were SUPPOSED to eradicate Rock during KISS’ first two decades. With or without makeup, the band always delivered. And when a generation of musicians in the ’90s tried to convince the world that it was cooler to mope around in flannel than kick out the motherfucking jams, KISS put their makeup back on to remind us all of how much fun a grandiose, unapologetically bombastic Rock ‘N’ Roll show can be. 

While some Rock artists focus on the darker aspects of human existence, KISS has always been about exploring life’s possibilities. Although some of the band’s “Live life to the max! WOO!” lyrical content has earned a snicker or two from the more cynical among us, the fact remains that a poor kid from Israel became the God of Thunder and LIVED those lyrics. And just take a look at your top 10 favorite Rock and/or Metal releases. If those albums came out in the ‘80s, there’s a very good chance that the guitarists on at least half of them dressed up like Ace for Halloween as a kid in the '70s. At their best, KISS not only make us believe in the Spirit of Rock ‘N’ Roll, but also in ourselves. If that sentiment comes off as a bit silly to you, you’ve obviously never seen the band live.

Today, I raise my glass to all past and present members of KISS, with a special nod to Gene (whose notorious stone-faced arrogance is always replaced by accommodating politeness whenever I cross paths with him) and the great Eric Singer, easily one of the coolest human beings in an ever-inhuman business. Also, a great deal of appreciation and respect goes to the late Sean Delaney, whose many talents helped make the original KISS so extraordinary. If you’re unfamiliar with Sean’s work with KISS (as well as his stellar 1979 solo album,
Highway), he’s a person definitely worth running through a Google search. (I plan to have a feature on Sean’s life and work on my website in the not-too-distant future.) And of course, three cheers to the departed Eric Carr, Bill Aucoin and Neil Bogart.

We wanted the best, we got the best and we still have the best. Thanks for the last 40 years, KISS!

EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com

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