When the band completed ‘Hotter Than Hell’, they quickly went right back on tour. That album only had the one single, “Let Me Go, Rock & Roll”, which quickly fell from the charts. That wasn’t the only thing that fell quickly, so did the album sales. Their label, Casablanca, was hemorrhaging money with Kiss on Tour and the album doing poorly. As a result, the band was yanked off tour to record a new album.
When they get in the studio, the producer for the record was no longer Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise as Casablanca had no money to pay anyone. So the owner of the record label, Neil Bogart, stepped in and recorded the album. Which isn’t really a problem as he has a ton of experience…in the pop and dance music world. Not in Rock & Roll. And it would be evident as the heavier sound of the band on the first two albums, was a little more pop sounding on this one. Don’t fret, it still rocked out, but not as hard.
Imagine you are in a band and you are now starting to write your third album in about a year’s time. You have to be one heck of a writer to come up with that much music in such a short time. Well, Kiss didn’t have the songs. So, what did they do. They pulled a couple songs from their Wicked Lester Days and re-worked them. Now, only 8 more to go. Paul wrote three of them, Gene got two, Ace got one and then Paul & Gene wrote one together and what a song it was. More on that in a minute.
The album cover on this one is fantastic. Someone had the bright idea of putting the guys in suits with full make-up on and walk them up and down the New York Streets for a picture. There was only one problem. Peter was the only member to own a suit. Bill Aucoin, their manager, stepped in and supplied the other members a suit from his own personal collection which probably explains why they don’t seem to fit very well. The photo was taken at the southwest corner of 23rd Street and 8th Avenue. They took that same picture and gave it an X-ray effect and used that for the back cover. It all looked awesome.
There was nothing else in the album, no surprises, but my copy still had the Casablanca sleeve which I think is really cool to have that intact as it is such a great record label picture. You know, I think that is all the background I have on this other than the songs. Except maybe it is good to note that the band is still in tact and they are still playing all the music on this record as that would be changing down the road. Let’s get to the music.
The album opens with the Paul Stanley penned song “Room Service”. It is an upbeat tempo with a cool Ace solo which all has a 50’s kind of rock vibe to it. Gene’ bass bounces along with a nice groove with Peter matching his rhythm and throwing in some nice feels. Paul delivers his usual stellar vocals and we get a nice bouncy opener.
“Two Timer” is the first Gene song on the album and of course it is about sex. Imagine that. The heavy opening blows right into Gene singing and this leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t like the production of this one at all. It is muddied and flat. No life in at all so I will move on.
Gene gets two songs in row and this one is “Ladies in Waiting” another song about sex and Gene compares the women to meat…awesome…no #MeToo movement here. Gene’s bass is groovetastic, but it is Peter that has this beat going that feels like a horse trotting down the road. Kinda cool. Gene actually plays the rhythm guitar on this one which is cool to know as he plays it well.
“Getaway” brings us Peter’s only vocal on the album (small part on “She”) and Ace’s one songwriting credit. I like this one for that Ace solo which a pure Ace sound and Peter actually sounds really good. Ace also plays Bass on this one so no Gene. It is a lesser known Peter track, but solid enough.
The first side comes to an end with one of the best songs on the album, “Rock Bottom”. The intro is only Ace on guitar and listen closely because I swear this is the precursor to “Fractured Mirror” from his solo album. Then the song really kicks in full force and is one of the most rocking songs on the album. The backing vocals on the chorus really adds a lot to the song as well. All-in-all this is splendid.
Things keep getting better with another classic Paul Stanley song called “C’mon and Love Me”. This song also gives Paul his first solo on a Kiss song and it is worth noting as it is wonderful. The song has a rock and pop feel and is catchy as hell with the help of Gene on those backing vocals. I love the line “She’s a dancer, a romancer, I’m a Capricorn and she is a Cancer” because Paul is not a Capricorn he’s Aquarius. So, basically he is lying to us. The second single on the album and only charted to #…who am I kidding, it didn’t chart.
Then we get the atrocious “Anything for My Baby”. The horrible vocals on the opening to the overall lame feel of the entire song. Pure filler as they must have been out of song ideas to throw this one in. It also has this 50’s/60’s vibe that doesn’t work at all. Enough said.
Now we get the first of two Wicked Lester songs. First up is “She” which was written by Gene Simmons and his friend Stephen Coronel. The groove was still there from that original version, but the song was much heavier and Ace takes it up a notch with the guitar. The solo was even taken from The Doors song “Five to One”. The song for me has this great flow and I love Peter’s playing as the style is more jazz than rock. It fits the song well. This is another one of my favorite tracks and though it is not a full on rocker in the “anthem” sense, it has something really cool and different.
The second Wicked Lester track is “Love Her All I Can” which was written by Paul Stanley. Paul admits that the opening guitar work was strongly influenced by The Who song “Can’t Explain” and the guitar & bass parts were taken from “Open My Eyes” by Nazz. This is a very different song that isn’t so much a Kiss sound, but is something cool. Ace has a speedy, impressive solo which adds even more to the song. One of my favorite of his solos off this album.
We end the album with the most famous of all Kiss songs ever to come in to existence. Yes, “Rock And Roll All Nite”. The song peaked at #69 and was the first single off the album. This version is not what broke them, it was the live version off ‘Alive!’ which will be discussed on the next review. It is the rock anthem of rock anthem’s and you can hear those elements and that this song was bursting to be heard. The song came together because Neil wanted them to write an anthem or something for the fans to rally behind and this was the result…not bad! I will add that if I never hear this song played live by the band again, I would be okay with that. I am sick and tired of hearing this song, but I will admit is still great…just overplayed to death.
- Room Service – Keeper
- Two Timer – Delete
- Ladies in Waiting – Keeper
- Getaway – Keeper
- Rock Bottom – Keeper
- C’mon And Love Me – Keeper
- Anything For My Baby – Delete
- She – Keeper
- Love Her All I Can – Keeper
- Rock & Roll All Nite – Keeper
Alright, time for the track score. I would say that out of the first three albums, this one is the weakest of the bunch and I know a lot of people like this one, me, not so much. It gets a Track Score of 8 out 10 Keepers or 80%. The overall feel of the album is little light and not enough hard rock plus I don’t like the production much at all. It also had a couple songs that felt like filler to me. You take those 3 things and the score get knocked down a little. There were some classic Kiss songs on here and a few little gems, but like I said, not my favorite of the original 3 albums. For all that, the score is only a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. To hear “Rock Bottom”, “C’mon And Love Me”, “She” and “Love Her All I Can” as well as “Getaway” means the album gets pulled out for the occasional listen.
Next Up: Kiss – Alive! (1975)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
The Kiss Review Series:
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Kiss (1974)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
- Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
Kiss – The Box Set:
- The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)
Gene Simmons – The Vault:
- Part 1 – The Grand Opening
- Part 2 – Disk 1
- Part 3 – Disk 2
- Part 4 – Disk 3
- Part 5 – Disk 4
- Part 6 – Disk 5
- Part 7 – Disk 6
- Part 8 – Disk 7
- Part 9 – Disk 8
- Part 10 – Disk 9
- Part 11 – Disk 10
- Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
- Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
- Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
- Part 15 – The Final Verdict