Part 6 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster! See the end for a bit of a preview of the forthcoming Destroyer: Resurrected too.
KISS – Destroyer (1976)
DISCLAIMER: I’m not the biggest fan of Destroyer. I loved the cover as a kid, and that cover led me to expect the album to be heavier. Also worth noting: I got mono real bad around the time that I got this album, so upon initially hearing it, I was constantly sick.
I strongly like four of the tracks today, which unfortunately have become overplayed:
- Detroit Rock City
- King of the Night Time World
- Shout It Out Loud
- God of Thunder
And let’s face it, Kiss fans can take or leave “Beth”. Unfortunately for Peter Criss it was the only hit that he had a hand in writing, and during the reunion got way overplayed. It was nice hearing it again at first, since it had been dropped from the set for about 17 years. I’m sick of it now. We’re all sick of it. Kiss felt the song was a throwaway, and it kind of is. A novelty.
- “Sweet Pain” — not a big fan. I find it dull.
- “Flaming Youth” — again, not a big fan. I think Ezrin got carried away with production on this one, and to be honest I’ve never been a fan of the “Mad Dog” riff in the middle.
- “Great Expectations” — never liked it. Always thought it was a novelty even moreso than Beth. But the live version on Alive IV is stunning.
- “Do You Love Me?” — I have no idea how this song continues to be played live. Maybe when Nirvana covered it, it got a new life? It’s just too simple.
Ezrin’s production is probably too sweet for my tastes. On the Alice Cooper stuff he was a little bit more rock, a little bit more raw. As I said, “Flaming Youth” is drenched in production. Calliope? Why? I don’t know.
Having said that, Ezrin pulled a few tricks out of the bag on this album that are really cool:
1. Grand piano subtley doubles the guitar riffs on most songs. It is audible on “Shout It Out Loud”, but you can hear it if you really listen on the other tracks. It gives the riffs a little extra BOOM!
2. The sound effect intro to “Detroit”, and the walkie-talkies on “God Of Thunder”. Genius atmospheres. No wonder this guy would later produce Pink Floyd!
3. Songwriting. Ezrin really helped Kiss learn about songwriting craft, and Kiss would never be the same.
So there you go. It is undeniably a classic, but it does not represent what Kiss really sound like. Maybe if Kiss had continued down this road immediately and tried some production stuff on their own, without Ezrin, they would be a different band today? But they didn’t, and Kiss returned to rock and roll on the next album, which I like better.
Destroyer: Resurrected (35th Anniversary Edition)
This baby is coming in August. A full-on Bob Ezrin remix of Destroyer, plus unheard demos. Now I know a lot of you don’t particularly care for remixes, but if Ezrin is helming it, I believe there will be a point to it. Ezrin is a producer of integrity and I don’t believe he would waste our dollars or time if this remix wasn’t somehow going to be worth it. I don’t know if the original mix will be included. But who cares? Everybody owns that and it’s not being deleted.
Ezrin pulled the tapes from the vaults and painstakingly remixed the entire album, enhancing the sound and bringing out its rich texture and vibrancy, while keeping the integrity of the original recording intact. Destroyer: Resurrected will also include rare and unreleased recordings rediscovered during the remixing process, plus the originally intended cover artwork.
I’m now hearing it’s only going to be 1 disc, but with the original Ken Kelly cover art (Alive! costumes), read more here!
I’ll be interested to hear this, albeit I am sceptical. It wouldn’t be like Kiss to soak the fans now would it?
Hey Every Record! Somehow this comment ended up in my spam. Better check spam more often! But no, you’re right. Kiss have no record whatsoever of soaking their fans. :)
Easily the worst of the ‘original six’. When this came out, they lost most of what few fans they
had. KISS goes pop. To my ears, this is less a KISS album, and more a Bob Ezrin album.
Which is why KISS panicked, and went right back in the studio for a ‘new’ album.
The only songs I listen to off this album are Sweet Pain, and Do You Love Me.
The rest sound better on ALIVE II. Like all the post R&R all nite songs, you can tell they were
trying to make ‘anthem’ songs. Detroit Rock City, Shout it Out Loud. They simplified their songs
and tried to write songs with a theme that fit their ‘characters’. Consequently, the album that
sounds the least like KISS was the one that sold the most – to non KISS fans.
This also marks the first time they started messing with Pete’s drum sound. They put him in
an elevator shaft to get a ‘heavier’ drum sound. I hated it. Pete played a lot of nuanced licks.
You lose the accents when you go for a ‘boomy’ sound. That’s why Pete hated dealing with
Bob. Ezrin forced
Pete into a funkless straight, ‘pop’ style. It was sad, like watching a great racehorse pull a plow.
Forcing a great drummer into ‘boom slap, boom boom slap. Shoddy business indeed.
Not coincidently, this is the album where KISS’ problems started. Gee, I wonder why.
If the band didn’t like Peter’s style, why did they hire him? The one song Pete gets credit for
‘Beth’, wasn’t even that much him. It was his idea, but Ezrin basically made that song.
Destroyer didn’t sell that well initially, but when ‘Beth’ caught on, on the radio, it spurred sales.
It eventually went gold, but the real benefit, although at the time KISS, nor anybody else
knew it, was winning the Peoples’ Choice Award. That provided the impetus of what made
KISS in the 70’s.