Kiss – ‘Love Gun’ (1977) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Kiss were flying high. Their popularity was growing by leaps and bounds and so much so that they were voted the most popular band in the U.S. beating the likes of some other famous bands maybe you’ve heard of them…Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.  Nah, I didn’t think so.  They appeared in their first comic book, “Howard the Duck #12: “Mind-Mush!” (May 1977)’ and later that year they had their own comic book with “A Marvel Comics Super Special #1: A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss (1977).  For this, they used their own blood to mix in with the ink.  They were becoming the merchandising kings they are still today.

With that popularity needs to come new music and 6 months after the release  of ‘Rock And Roll Over’, the band was back in the studio to record their 6th studio album.  The band brought back Eddie Kramer to produce and man the boards in hopes to maintain the direction that ‘Rock And Roll Over’ was taking them. And on June 30, 1977, the album came out and immediately went platinum with sales over 1 million.

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The album became the first studio album to feature all 4 band members singing a song as Mr. Ace Frehley finally sang a song and what a beast of song it was.  And another interesting fact, this is the last album to feature Peter Criss on all the songs.  What does that mean?  That means that the next two studio albums (not including the solo albums), Peter doesn’t play all the drums, in fact, very few of them.  All this despite the fact he is prominently featured on the cover of the album and still tours.  We will touch more on that fact in future posts.  The band was still in tact with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.  That still wouldn’t change for a couple years.

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The album cover is drawn by Ken Kelly and you are very familiar with his work as he did the cover of ‘Destroyer’ as well.  As a 8 year old boy, this cover was amazing.  Seeing all these half-naked women at the feet of these Rock Gods, I mean, yeah!!  I stared at this cover for hours.  The artwork wasn’t the only cool thing about it because the album also came with a merchandise form for you to order Kiss merch and a cardboard cut-out of a gun…a love gun.  The copy of ‘Love Gun’ that I have doesn’t have either of those items, but it still does have the vinyl sleeve with the ketchup looking Kiss logo as seen above.  It is the same picture on both sides.

 

SIDE ONE:

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The album kicks off with a pure adrenaline rush song called “I Stole Your Love”.  It was Paul at his best.  Paul wrote this song using the same formula he did for “Makin’ Love” and you can kind of hear it.  What I love about the song is his vocal delivery and the echo to give emphasis to the last word on the line right before the chorus.  The word changed each time, but the effect was the same and was totally cool. There are two guitar solos on this one with the first one being Paul and the second one is Ace Frehley.

The next song is the first single off the album, “Christine Sixteen”.  Now this song wouldn’t fly today as it is an older man going after a much younger woman at only 16.  But at the time, no one thought anything about it.  Heck, they did this before with “Goin’ Blind’ off the ‘Hotter Than Hell’ album.  There is a cool piano riff in the song which was done by Eddie Kramer.  It is a fun, upbeat track and a favorite of mine for Gene.  A cool, fun fact about the song, the demo was done with Gene and two unknown artist at the time by the name of Eddie and Alex Van Halen.  They also did the demo for “Got Love For Sale” and you can hear those demos on Gene Simmons ‘The Vault”.

“Got Love For Sale” is another Gene song that originally was called “Have Love Will Travel” if memory serves me right.  Another upbeat rocker and Gene growls his way through it.  Ace lays down a great solo and Gene is actually playing rhythm guitar on this one as he did with “Christine Sixteen”.  I will admit that although Eddie and Alex were on the demos, the final studio tracks were far superior to those demos.

Ace is finally on lead vocals with “Shock Me” and might be my favorite Ace song.  The song is based off an incident that is well documented where Ace touched an ungrounded metal railing and had the life shocked out of him.  No, he didn’t die, but he was thrown back a little.  He continued the show with no feeling in his hand and I believe the show was December 12, 1976, at the Lakeland Civic Center in Lakeland, Florida.  Ace having little confidence wanted Gene to sing and Gene, thankfully, talked Ace in to singing.  Ace finally agreed and actually recorded the song lying down on the floor.  I hope that method has changed. The song is utterly brilliant and the guitar work is some of Ace’s best. In fact, he does all the guitar work on this one, both lead and rhythm.  This defines Ace Frehley in my book!!

The last track on Side One is “Tomorrow And Tonight”.  Another Paul song that is a little repetitive, but a fun track.  The song has another mention of anal sex as has been used as a Kiss theme song before with “Nothin’ To Lose” on the debut.  The line is “Take it in the cellar, let me be your fella / I’m gonna teach you somethin’ new”.  The song is the typical sex song and not a bad track, but not one of their better ones either.

SIDE TWO:

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Side Two opens with one of the band’s most iconic songs, “Love Gun”.  That barrage of drum hits by Peter are so recognizable that the second you hear, you know what you are getting.  When Peter does that barrage towards the end and then Ace comes in with a mini solo, it is magical.  If the bass sounds a little different, that is because Paul handles those duties. The song is still played live today and at almost every show since its release.  Paul has stated that the song was inspired by “The Hunter” by Booker T. & the MG’s but I believe performed by Albert King.  The song does mention a “love gun”.

Another Pre-Kiss song for Peter written with his friend Stan Pendridge called “Hooligan”.  I believe the song is based off his life as a kid as his grandmother used to call him a “hooligan” for running around with the street gangs of the time. Peter was a little badass when he was younger, no doubt.  The song is a little badass as well with a great driving groove by Peter on the drums and Ace ripping away at the guitar.  I have to admit, that as much as Peter was my least favorite member of the band, his songs were much better than I remember.  He has a great grit and toughness to his vocals that fit his songs so well.

Next up is a pure Gene song called “Almost Human”.  One of Gene’s more menacing songs and even the guitars sound a little evil.  Gene takes his demon personae and elevates to be something more than a mere mortal.  The backing vocals in the chorus even come across as scary.  This song is so evil sounding and so much going on that you can’t help but get scared.  Okay, it isn’t that scary, but it is Gene and that is what I love about it.

Gene is up again with “Plaster Caster”.  I am sure you know the story.  There was groupie back in the 70’s that used to take plaster casts of Rock Stars Private Parts.  I think it has been confirmed Jimi Hendrix was one of them.  Gene, however, was not.  I think this bothered him so he wrote this song in hopes she would plaster him…I am just playing here as I have no idea if that is why he wrote it, but he has said he hasn’t had it done.  It is a fun song and the lyrics are quite offensive which only adds to its appeal.

The song ends on a low note with a cover.  I guess they ran out of songs.  The song is “Then She Kissed Me” performed by the Crystals in 1963 and written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and the legendary Phil Spector.  It features Paul on vocals and it sounds like a 60’s song with a 70’s edge.  It is very cheesy, so much so it borders on good and I always find myself singing along by the end. Totally out of place, but who cares.

Track Listing:

  1. I Stole Your Love – Keeper
  2. Christine Sixteen – Keeper
  3. Got Love For Sale – Keeper
  4. Shock Me – Keeper
  5. Tomorrow And Tonight – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  6. Love Gun – Keeper
  7. Hooligan – Keeper
  8. Almost Human – Keeper
  9. Plaster Caster – Keeper
  10. Then She Kissed Me – Keeper (1/2 Point)

Track Score is strong at 9 out of 10 or 90%.  I had to deduct a point for a couple songs that although I wouldn’t skip, they aren’t the best on the record, not even close.  This album kept Kiss going strong in the same manner of ‘Rock And Roll Over’ and took them even high into the stratosphere with popularity.  Overall, the album is a strong 4.75 out of 5.0 Stars.  This is the last of the “Classic” Kiss albums and I never tire of this one.  I like the simplicity of the album in that it is just a plain rock album.  Nothing fancy and it doesn’t need to be.  It is the one thing I love…it is Kiss!!  Kiss at their prime and Kiss at their best!  And sadly, it was the end of the band as we knew them for some time to come.

Next Up: Kiss – ‘Alive II’ (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 And Roll Over (1976)
  11. Kiss – Love Gun (1977)

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:

18 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘Love Gun’ (1977) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

  1. You’ve gotta be the only other guy who likes the Peter Criss songs on these two albums. Hell, I like “Dirty Livin'” even. His solo album is another story, but “Baby Driver” smokes and “Hooligan” is fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I Stole Your Love Intro Riff sounds like something Metallica used on Kill Em All.
    Almost Human has one of those single note riffs which you can hum. And your right, it’s menacing. And every time I hear Got Your Live For Sale Intro Riff I think of Poison and Look What The Cat Dragged In.
    And of course the title track. One of their bestZ

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great album when you really think about it. If they dumped the cover tune at the end I would be ok with it. Never liked it and I would file it under the delete section.
    Amazing the pace they were going at back then. Album-Tour-Album-Tour in one year lol
    Good stuff here John!

    By the way Christine 16 with that creeper demon vocal would not fly but its still a hoot to listen too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a brutal pace. They had to be exhausted by this point. Luckily they took a little time doing the solo albums and thankfully Double Platinum came out to help let them have some breathing room. It was a over a year between this album and the solo ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have nothing to add here! You pretty much nailed this album. And Then She Kissed Me was the only Kiss music I was allowed at my wedding so we have a double theme with two posts of yours!

    Love Gun is my favourite of the second Kiss Trilogy. But that can change. Dressed to Kill from the first Trilogy is slowly rising in my esteem. Maybe Rock and Roll Over will one day surpass Love Gun for me, but right now it’s still tops.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! What other songs did you play and I will get on those reviews immediately 😂.

      Love Gun is awesome. One of my favorites as well. RARO is awesome too, heck all of the 2nd trilogy are amazing because this was when I really got in to them as a 7-8 year old.

      Liked by 1 person

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