Review Summary: KISS make a slow commercial start with a collection of true anthems.
I would like to start this review with a sort of a side note. My last review I wrote on here was for KISS' Music from "The Elder
, which I reviewed as a terrible album and best avoided at all costs. That was not just from a music fan, but a KISS fan. Therefore I felt it would be worthwhile to go through all their back catalogue and write up reviews of, for me, one of the greatest and legendary bands in rock 'n' roll history.
It's hard to think, especially as a 21 year old who up until a few years ago knew very little of rock and metal music, that KISS; a band of which you see the logo almost everywhere in merchandise and of whom's commercial might is impressive, did not start off with the most meteoric of commercial starts. It would take a live effort (the almost mythical Alive
) for KISS to become the huge arena dwelling band we now know them as, with 3 albums before said live effort not setting the charts a light. What is undeniable however is that KISS started off with some absolute crackers even before their gargantuan success, and their self title début is most certainly a highlight.
With later albums in the late 70's, 80's and beyond having massive productions of which we are used to from arena acts such as KISS, to hear KISS with a considerably rawer production seems strange, but all bands have to start somewhere, even KISS. It's by no means a bad production however, and raw certainly does not describe it. This isn't quite a newly formed black metal band producing an album in a shed style production, it is still all very clear throughout, and instantly memorable.
What is also incredible is how many genuine hard rock anthems are featured on the album. A lot of the songs on display here staples in the KISS set list even to this day, and bearing in mind this is just the début allbum! KISS were making gems right from the very start.
Opening with the classic 'Strutter', KISS hit the ground running with pure swagger and class with one of the best songs in their arsenal, Paul Stanley on fine vocal form right from the off. 'Firehouse' is equally as mighty, and is famous in the set list for being one of the moments for Gene's fire breathing antics. Gene Simmons is also on fine vocal form here, such as on the brilliant 'Deuce', and even Peter Criss sounds pretty decent behind the microphone on 'Nothin' to Lose'. There isn't even a hit or miss ballad on show here, and as we know KISS can make great as well as awful ballads.
What is also quite unique about this album in comparison to other KISS albums is the fact that there is no low point. Even other genuine classic KISS albums have a low point, or a song or two that make you wonder what the hell they were thinking of at the time, but not here. Songs such as 'Kissin' Time' may not hit home as quickly as say 'Firehouse' but they are certainly not dull or unworthy affairs. So perhaps not a huge commercial jump from the off, but critically almost flawless, and their are very few self titled débuts as good as this.
Recommended: Strutter, Firehouse, Black Diamond