Kiss – ‘Rock And Roll Over’ (1976) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After the massive success of ‘Destroyer’, the band was riding high. Now the hard part, following up a massive album.  Despite the success of the prior album, there were many fans who didn’t like the direction Kiss was going. They felt the rawness of the band was missing. It was that rawness they loved.  They weren’t alone, Ace and Peter felt the same way.  They did not want to repeat what Ezrin had done, but Gene and Paul didn’t want to completely throw it away either.

So, Eddie Kramer was brought back in to produce.  They camped out at the Star Theater in Nanuet, New York i hopes to have a live feel for the album to make sure they capture the true essence of the band.  And whether or not they did is still up for discussion.  You get a mixed bag of thoughts on the production of this album, I will just say I think it is one of their most consistent albums they have done and we will get in to the meat of it later.

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While recording the album in September/October of 1976, the band took a little break from recording and went on the Paul Lynne Show.  The show became the famous Halloween special that aired on October 29th.  It brought Kiss to a whole new and much wider audience.  It is a huge starting point for a lot of fans that saw this and saw Kiss for the first time and were blown away.  New fans were climbing on board everyday.

The album was completed and released on November 11, 1976 and “Rock And Roll over” was released upon the world.  Before we get to the music, let’s talk about the artwork.  The album cover just might be the best album cover they have ever done.  It is so popular that Anthrax did a tribute to it on their album ‘Kings Among Scotland’.  The artist was Michael Doret and this wasn’t the last time he would work on an album cover. He also did Sonic Boom in 2009.  Big stretch of time between albums.  My copy of the album still had the album sleeve inside with the Kiss logo going in every direction.  The picture was the same on each side and you can see below.

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The funny thing is, growing up, I didn’t remember this album as much. I remember ‘Destroyer’, but I felt like it went straight in to ‘Love Gun’.  It wasn’t until years later that I figured out this was between those albums.  I don’t know if that meant my brothers bought these out of order, or they just missed it.  Anyway, no relevance to the album but just a strange memory for me.  Let us get to the music, shall we.

SIDE A:

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The album kicks off with the Paul Stanley penned track, “I Want You”. It opens deceptively with an acoustic guitar and Paul singing softly before it explodes in to a straight ahead rocker. And what is even better is that it has 2 guitar solos. First one is Paul and the second one is Ace.  The song goes back and forth a couple times with the softness and the heavy.  It is a great opening track to kick things off.  Paul wrote this song while on tour in England.  He was standing on stage at a soundcheck and the song just came to him.

The next track, “Take Me”,  was written by Paul and co-written by Sean Delaney.  Sean worked with Bill Aucoin and was responsible for a lot of the choreography you see saw on stage by Kiss.  This is another rocker and a pure sex song. Ace nails down another great solo.  After all the extra things that ‘Destroyer’ had, ‘Rock & Roll Over’ has stripped the band back down to more of sound from the first three albums and I’m okay with that.

“Calling Dr. Love” is the first of four Gene songs on the album.  The song stems from a Gene song called “Bad Bad Lovin'” which you can hear in many forms on Gene Simmons ‘The Vault’ (click links below).  It is a heavy song and Gene sounds as menacing as ever.  This is one of his signature songs.  Interesting to note, on the backing vocals, you can hear Katy Sagal from Married With Children and Sons of Anarchy.  Of course she wasn’t famous at this point.

Gene is up next again with “Ladies Room” and in pure Gene fashion he wants to have sex with a woman in the bathroom.  I mean, who wouldn’t right!!  I love this song for the great bridge and then Peter hitting that cowbell to bring in the chorus.  Heck, I think the bridge has better lyrics than the chorus.  Gene’s bass is really brought to the front of the production and the drum sound is really cool on this one as well.  I believe for all the drums, Peter was put in a bathroom to get the sound the obtained for the recordings.  Also of note, Gene is actually playing the rhythm guitar on this one.

The last track on Side A is possibly my favorite song on the album, “Baby Driver”.  The song was written by Peter Criss and Stan Penridge from his earlier band Lips.  I love the driving groove and riffs that give this song a really cool vibe.  Peter sings with all he can muster as well as delivers some great drum-fills.  This is a shining point for me for Peter.  That rough and raw voice gives the song an edge that puts it over the top for me.  I can’t say enough good things about this one.  This isn’t one most people think of when you think of Peter, but I would rather listen to this than “Beth” any day of the week.

SIDE B:

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The second side kicks with a Gene sex song (is there any other kind) called “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”.  I don’t know if this song will win over any new fans for Gene songs as it is not his best, but it is a fun song with a rather catchy chorus.  The song is simple and to the point and saved by a spirited Ace solo.

“Mr. Speed” brings us our next Stanley/Delany penned track.  This isn’t a classic, but the song is why I love Kiss.  They have solid, rocking deep cuts. “Mr. Speed” is one of those deep cuts that makes it all worth it.  It rocks out and Paul sounds fantastic, guitar work is great, the rhythm section of Gene and Peter brings it home and those loud pounding drums towards the end really set this one apart nicely.

The next one is a curious little song called “See You in Your Dreams” and was released in a slightly different format a couple years later on Gene’s solo album (and you can hear versions on ‘The Vault’ as well).  I do like this version better than his solo album.  This one is more rocking and the band does the backing vocals as opposed to Gene’s solo album which is not and I will discuss that on that review.  This has one of Ace’s better solos on the album although it is short.  The song is a little repetitive at times which does detract a little.

Now after the success of “Beth”, Peter was given another ballad to sing and I am sure it was in hopes of repeating that magic. This song, “Hard Luck Woman”, was written by Paul and Paul had written so Rod Stewart could sing and when listening to the track, I could hear Rod singing this.  Paul was talked in to giving it to Peter and although the song did do as well as “Beth”, it still gave the band another Top 20 hit.  It is mostly acoustic and Peter does a great job and delivers a sweet song.  I also think Peter’s vocals fit the song as they give it some grit and an extra added layer of emotion.  A nice change of pace on an album that has a lot of rock songs…this maybe should’ve been placed earlier to break things up a bit more but who am I to say anything.

The final track is the final Stanley/Delaney song and it is the kick ass tune “Makin’ Love”.  A pure, energetic rocker with a massively impressive drum roll at the end.  This is the type of song that made me love Paul.  His self-assured vocals brought a cockiness and a ballsy feel to the song that you can’t help be won over.  Ace cranks out a speedy, frantic filled solo and then Peter does his best drumming to end the album on a massive high note!  You know I always like an album that ends with a song leaving you wanting more and this does that in spades.

Track Listing:

  1. I Want You – Keeper
  2. Take Me – Keeper
  3. Calling Dr. Love – Keeper
  4. Ladies Room – Keeper
  5. Baby Driver – Keeper
  6. Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em – Keeper (1/2 point)
  7. Mr. Speed – Keeper
  8. See You In Your Dreams – Keeper (1/2 point)
  9. Hard Luck Woman – Keeper
  10. Makin’ Love – Keeper

The Track Score on this is a 9 out of 10 Tracks or 90%.  I had to deduct a half a point on two songs because although they were decent, they had their flaws, but not enough that I would want to delete them.  The overall album was the most consistent quality album they have had and it did take me back to the rawness of the first few albums which is a welcomed sound always.  I did think it was a small step backwards from ‘Destroyer’, but it was still a kick in the pants, feel good, rock & roll album.  And what more could you want.  I really like this album and I am giving it a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars.  If you want to sit back and rock out, this is the album to pull out and give it a spin.  In fact, go do that now.

Next Up: Kiss – ‘Love Gun’ (1977)

Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!

The Kiss Review Series:

  1. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  2. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
  3. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  4. Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
  5. Kiss – Alive! (1975)
  6. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
  7. Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  8. Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
  9. Kiss – The Originals (1976)
  10. Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)

The Bootleg Series:

  1. Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
  2. Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
  3. Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
  4. Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
  5. Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
  6. Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
  7. Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
  8. Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
  9. Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
  10. Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
  11. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
  12. Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
  13. Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
  14. Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
  15. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)

Kiss – The Box Set:

Gene Simmons – The Vault:

12 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘Rock And Roll Over’ (1976) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

  1. Wicked writeup John.
    On any given day this album may be my favourite overall. Definitely in my top 3 Kiss studio albums.
    Side 1 is great but Side 2 is just stellar. I think Mean Gene wins my favourite tune on this album with See You In Your Dreams.

    Going to spin this one sooner than later now!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I prefer raw Kiss. I wasn’t listening to Kiss when this came out when I was 4, but in hindsight I am glad this is what they did.

    I consider Crazy Nights’ cover also to be a tribute to this album cover.

    Funny but we have very different reactions on two songs: Baby Driver and Mr. Speed. Mr. Speed is my favourite, while Baby Driver is one I’m rather cool on!

    Liked by 1 person

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