Kiss: A Retrospective To A Band That Flew Out Of The Pages Of A Comic Book
In the late 1970's Kiss was my favourite band. They haven't been quite the same since but there was a time when they ruled the world...and for good reason. Check it out!
Kiss wanted to express the excitement felt at their concerts (which their studio albums had so far failed to do), with their first live album. Released on 10 September 1975, Alive! achieved Gold status and spawned Kiss's first top 40 single, a live version of "Rock And Roll All Nite." It was the first version of "Rock and Roll All Nite" with a guitar solo, and this recording has come to represent the definitive version of the song; supplanting the studio original. In recent years the band admitted that additional audience noise had been added to the album, not to deceive fans, but to add more "excitement and realism" to the show.
The success of Alive! not only brought Kiss the breakthrough they had been seeking, but arguably saved Casablanca, which was close to bankruptcy. Following this success, Kiss partnered with producer Bob Ezrin, who had previously worked with Alice Cooper. The result was Destroyer (released March 15, 1976), Kiss's most musically ambitious studio album to date. Destroyer, with its rather intricate production (utilizing an orchestra, choir, and numerous tape effects), was a departure from the raw sound of the first three studio albums. While the album sold well initially and became the group's second gold album, it quickly dropped down the charts. Only when the ballad "Beth" was released as a single did the album's sales rebound. "Beth" was a #7 hit for the band, and its success revived both the album (which achieved platinum status by the end of 1976) and ticket sales for Kiss.
In October 1976, Kiss appeared on the The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, lip-synching "Detroit Rock City", "Beth", and "King of the Night Time World". For many teenagers, this was their first exposure to Kiss's dramatic appearance. The show was co-produced by Bill Aucoin. In addition to the three performances, Kiss was the subject of a brief comedic "interview" conducted by Paul Lynde himself. This included Lynde noting, when hearing the member's first names, "Oh, I love a good religious group."
Two more highly successful studio albums were released in less than a year—Rock and Roll Over (November 11, 1976) and Love Gun (June 30, 1977). A second live album, Alive II, was released on October 14, 1977. All three albums were certified platinum upon or soon after their release. Between 1976 and 1978, Kiss earned $17.7 million from record royalties and music publishing. A 1977 Gallup poll named Kiss the most popular band in America. In Japan, Kiss performed five sold-out shows at Budokan Hall, breaking the previous record of four held by The Beatles.
In May 1977, Kiss made their first of many comic appearances in Howard The Duck issue 12 published by Marvel. This served as a precursor to many more Kiss-related comics initially published by Marvel.
The first of what is now many Kiss greatest hits albums, Double Platinum, was issued on April 2, 1978. This double album included many remixed versions of their hits, as well as "Strutter '78," a re-recorded version of one of the group's signature songs. At Neil Bogart's request, the song was played in a style similar to the then-popular disco music.
During this period, Kiss merchandise became a substantial source of income for the group. Some of the products released included a pair of comic books issued by Marvel (the first one of which contained ink mixed with actual blood donated by the group), a pinball machine, Kiss dolls, "Kiss Your Face Makeup" kits, Halloween masks, board games, and many other pieces of memorabilia. Membership in the Kiss Army, the band's fan club, was in the six figures. Between 1977 and 1979, worldwide merchandise sales (in-store and on tour) reached an estimated $100 million.
Lesser Known Kiss Songs: 70's Era