Why not start at the beginning? The beginning for me was this slab of wax, more or less. I say more or less because I can’t be certain if this was actually thee first Kiss album that transformed me from casual AM radio listener to purchaser of records. I think it was this record. And I heard it blaring through some crappy speakers in my cousin Ben’s bedroom circa 1975.
Look at this cover and tell me this isn’t a mid-70s American dream. The snarls. The hair. The make-up! Speaking of make-up, look closely and you’ll notice it’s different from the Kiss make-up on subsequent albums (and tours). Peter’s make-up is especially more detailed.
Since this record - Kiss’ first long player - came out in 1974 it means I was close to hearing them at the dawn of their major label existence. I can’t pretend I was old enough (I was 7 or 8) or cool enough (I wasn’t) to understand all of it, but whatever it was I wanted an extra helping. Either way, it’s their first LP you see before you. And man, does it rock!
Strutter! Firehouse (with el cheapo sirens!)! Cold Gin! Black Diamond! And, my favorite - Deuce!!! I didn’t know what ANY of these songs were about but they got me playing air guitar right quick. Speaking of Deuce - “You know your man is working hard….he’s worth a Deuce!” What does it mean? One line I DID understand was “Get up and get your grandma outta here.” Even though I loved my Grandmas’ with all my heart, I loved how dangerous that sounded.
I used to imagine Kiss kicking in my parents front door and playing an impromptu set for my slackjawed, screaming family! And then begging me to join the band - on air guitar. Whenever I listen to this record it conjures up live performances on Wolfman Jack’s Midnight Special and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. And, in my mind, it’s always a hot July day. My mom’s got frosted hair, my brother’s cooking up a mess of hotdogs in the kitchen (he wasn’t allowed to but did routinely) and my dad’s mad at me for using toothpaste to build a false wall in my bedroom. The music? It pours out of an AM radio like flaming hot molten lead.
For weirdos only: You’ll notice that I have an original blue label Casablanca pressing. Or should I say second pressing? Rock ‘n’ roll weirdos know that the initial pressings of Kiss’ first LP (NB-9001) - released in February of 1974 - were missing the song Kissin’ Time. Here’s the weird thing. My pressing is NB-9001 - but it contains Kissin’ Time. From what I understand, that means my pressing was released in July of 1974. Five months can make a big difference. In September of 1974 the LP was reissued as NB-7001. Pretty weird to generate all these unique pressings for a record that didn’t sell very well. The big sales would come later - with the release of the fourth Kiss album - Kiss Alive! More on that later, freaques.