Kiss

American hard rock legends Kiss celebrate their fortieth anniversary this month and have marked the occasion by reminding us of this: Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss auditioned lead guitarist Ace Frehley in a New York City loft way back in 1973 and thus, Kiss was born. Love ‘em or hate ‘em you can’t deny the impact of Kiss and the legendary status that sees them continue to sell out large venues around the globe, even with half their original members replaced. For the purpose of this retrospective you need to know that I fall into the ‘love ‘em’ camp and I’m saying so up front just so we’re clear. What follows is gleaned from nearly 40 years of both loving and, at times, hating the band Kiss.

Like much of the world I didn’t become acquainted with the band until after the release of Kiss Alive in 1975 when the live version of Rock n Roll All Nite was blasting out of A.M. transistor radios everywhere. My American step-dad loved to smoke weed and get mellow to James Taylor and while I can and did appreciate the finer points of that he was not reciprocally open minded about my love for Kiss, an outrageously attired band in make-up who liked to blow stuff up, set things on fire and spit blood. In short he thought that Kiss was disgusting and for a rebellious, long-haired teen with a bad attitude, that was a recipe for unbridled joy.

This then is one writer’s opinion with respect to ten hidden gems that all but the most ardent of Kiss fans may have missed, an opinion formed through decades of being a Kiss fan and observer. I’ve organized these gems by release date in order to avoid a debate about how these songs would appear in a ‘top ten’ format. I have listed them this way as a purposeful construct, the idea being that each tune is worthy in and of itself to be included in the list without regard for how it stacks up against its brethren.

So, let’s proceed…

10. “Goin’ Blind” From Hotter Than Hell, 1974

This Gene Simmons penned tune ranks among my fav’s for several reasons. Musically the track is the darkest, densest and most complex of Kiss’ early work. It features beautifully melodic guitar play between Stanley and Frehley as well as some of the latter’s best lead guitar soloing anywhere.

A mid-tempo heavy chord progression that leans toward the slow side carries the song which, incidentally, features a lyric that exists as a reminder that there was a pre- “G” rated, over-marketed Kiss that enjoyed some fairly twisted ideas. “I’m ninety-three and you’re sixteen” kind of says it all… is that even legal?

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This article was first posted on January 24, 2013