Review Summary: A compilation album which brings nothing new, and will only interest newbies and completists.
Oh yes, compilation albums. Funny things, aren’t they? Often irrelevant and serving as little more than a money-making device for the label/band, this type of article very seldom manages to get it entirely right. Serious music fans know that if your interest in the band is anything more than fleeting, a compilation album is never the right choice; what’s worse, most of this type of releases are seriously flawed. Usually, the main gripes are related to either serious shortcomings on the tracklist or the lack of fan-baiting original material. But what if a compilation managed to unite both
those traits and still come off as a decent introduction to a band? Enter KISS: Double Platinum
In 1977, KISS were beginning to embark on a downward spiral that would ultimately careen out of control, go up in flames, and cost the group three decades of credibility. So before Ace Frehley’s antics or Peter Criss’ constant moaning could destroy KISS once and forever, head honchos Simmons and Stanley joined heads with their label to record a cash-grab compliation and make a quick buck off the group’s popularity peak. The result – the first of many Greatest Hits to come – was entitled Double Platinum
, and encompassed 20 tracks that made up a rather comprehensive overview of KISS’s career up to then.
The product itself, however, was a mixed bag. Mixing packaging and art that worked well in LP format, but looks bootleggish as a CD edition, with decent-to-good music, the album nevertheless fell prey to all the trappings described in previous paragraphs.
To be fair, the tracklist does give space to all the KISS albums, rather than just the super-mega-successful ones; even the oft-neglected debut gets a fair share of the pie. The short straw was drawn by poor Love Gun
, which gets a sole cut in the form of the title track. With so many songs from the average Rock and Roll Over
, why not include a couple more cuts from Love Gun
? I mean, it’s not brain surgery – where’s Tomorrow and Tonight
? Where’s I Stole Your Love
? Where’s friggin’ Christine Sixteen
, for crying out loud?! Did we really need C’mon and Love Me
? Yes it’s a standout on that album, but in the ensemble of KISS’s career it’s a rather throwaway track. It could perfectly have been replaced with one of the aforementioned – and infinitely better - tracks. Other songs, however, are acknowledged as pleasant surprises, the irrepressible Let Me Go, Rock’n’Roll
chief among them.
The puzzlement continues throughout the tracklist. The band continues to try to forcefeed us She
, but why is it glued to the intro from Rock Bottom
? Why not, you know, include Rock Bottom itself
!?!? And what’s with all the “remixes” and “re-recordings?” And why do actually good songs like Mainline, Room Service, Got To Choose
or Let Me Know
continue to get the cold shoulder, when they’re so much better than the hopeless She
– I ”really, really, reeeeaaaalllly don’t love”
this song – or the forgettable 100.000 Years, Hotter Than Hell, I Want You
or C’Mon and Love Me
? Oh well, guess we can’t have it all our way, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.
But the tracklist is not the only flaw of this record. The whole tracklist has no rhyme or reason, feeling rather haphazard. The songs are not ordered chronologically or by order of successfulness – they were obviously just thrown together in a heap, packaged and released. Also puzzling is the presence of a few modifications in several songs, to the extent where this almost feels like a re-recording album rather than a mere compilation. It could be just me, but most songs definitely seem to feature false endings and additional production doodads that weren’t there the first time around. And say, didn’t Hard Luck Woman
use to have drums right from the beginning? Oddly, the actual remixes – She, C’mon and Love Me
– and re-recordings – Strutter ‘78
– are among the least different-sounding of the bunch.
And this leads us to another problem – there’s no new material here. That is, unless you count Strutter ‘78
, a shamelessly opportunistic re-tread that almost manages to ruin a good thing. Although the extended chorus sounded necessary in the original song, I can now safely say that that version actually works better. As for the remaining hoop-la, it was really quite unnecessary. As they say, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
So what saves Double Platinum
from total failure? Well, the songs, of course. Despite the shortcomings, it’s a rather pleasant bunch of tracks that make for an agreeable listening experience. However, I will concede that I didn’t listen to this one as thoroughly as I did the other KISS records. Why? Because I was sick to death of these songs. If you are a diehard fan or have listened to KISS extensively lately, that will happen to you too. There’s only so many times a person can hear Hard Luck Woman
or Love Gun
without becoming tired of them. For a newbie trying to get into KISS, though, this is a pretty good starting point. Sure, it has its flaws, but they’re subjective, and it serves its purpose – to give a reasonable overview of the group’s 70’s career. It could have been much better, but it could also have been much worse.
As a final note, it’s amazing how a track devoid of any logical structure, such as Detroit Rock City
, can so thoroughly dominate every album it’s in.
Do You Love Me
Hard Luck Woman
Let Me Go, Rock’n’Roll
Detroit Rock City