Thursday, 16 July 2015

Kiss - Double Platinum (1978)

...and before anyone gets to sneering, let it be known that the Young Marble Giants' Brand New Life is basically Strutter minus the awesome, so shut the fucking fuck up.

Growing up in England, Kiss passed me by in so much as the records were available but you had to make a special effort to hear them, which I didn't because I wasn't that interested. They looked a bit showbiz, very American and wholly ridiculous, and being as long-haired biker-orientated heavy rock was the default at our school I tended to avoid anything which sounded like it might comfortably sit between Judas Priest and Krokus in the record collection of kids who wore denim jackets with Motohead and States Quo written on the back in biro. That said, I was intrigued by the idea that Kiss had their own Marvel comic, and by my pen-friend Steven getting his wires crossed and insisting on the existence of a Sex Pistols album on which Rotten and the boys were quite clearly depicted wearing devil make-up and high-heeled boots with teeth. Then many, many years later as Beavis & Butthead sniggered over the video of I Love It Loud, I realised there might be something to this bunch, and although I'd never really developed any coherent assumptions about what they probably sounded like, they nevertheless didn't sound anything like I expected.

Another decade passed, and I found myself helping to clear my mother's house of the belongings of a long term partner who unfortunately turned into an enormous arsehole and had to be shipped off to a different city by means of a court order, and amongst these abandoned belongings I found this collection of what I assume to be the greatest hits of Kiss.

I really shouldn't be listening to this stuff. I mean seriously, there's a song called Calling Dr. Love and it probably won't come as too much of a surprise that said practitioner should endlessly espouse the medical benefits of good lovin' all night long - although I suppose that's the American healthcare system for you, which is obviously quite different to the NHS as it was back in England; and then there's Love Gun which is I suspect some sort of metaphor for the male generative member. This is why Spinal Tap failed, in my view. It did its best, but it still fell some way short of the genuine article. Even without the raw stupidity of the songs, the band are probably all so Republican as to make Rush Limbaugh sound like George Galloway, and there should probably be some sort of law against it, and yet...

Setting off on my morning bike ride with Double Platinum in my discman, I return two hours later driving an El Camino - passenger side door a different colour to the rest, obviously - wearing a mullet, and now regarding Easy Rider as a film with a happy ending; such is the power of Kiss. I guess I didn't imagine the music would be quite so direct or powerful as it is, direct and powerful in the way that the Ramones were direct and powerful, albeit working from a different, bluesier musical palette roughly equidistant between the New York Dolls and AC/DC. Nor is it really even heavy metal as we have come to understand the term, not with some of these tracks bordering on croaky Rod Stewart balladry but with the advantage of no actual Rod Stewarts being involved.

Kiss probably are the most ridiculous rock band of all time if you have your fingers in your ears, but with the sound turned up it becomes impossible to sustain the argument. I say ridiculous, but perhaps I really mean amazing...

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