double platinum

RE-REVIEW: KISS – Double Platinum (1978)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 12:  

kiss-logoDouble Platinum (1978 Casablanca, 1997 Mercury remastered edition)

As 1977 turned into 1978, Kiss were buying mansions, and buying time.

Their next big project was a rock and roll first.  Four solo albums, all under the Kiss banner, simultaneously.  It had never been done before.  As each of the four members toiled separately on their albums, Casablanca Records and Sean Delaney put together the next Kiss package:  Double Platinum was intended to keep the band on the charts in the meantime.

The first Kiss “greatest hits” album is the most legendary.  Sparing no expense, the two records were housed in a brilliant gatefold sleeve, embossed in shiny silver foil.  Kiss made their hits package really look like one, and the 20 included songs meant fans would get a cross section of hit material from all six Kiss studio albums.

Therein lay the challenge.  Kiss studio albums were, at best, uneven sounding.  Their early work was marred by studio inadequacies.  Producer Delaney chose to remix (with Mike Stone) a number of the old Kiss tracks, in an attempt to bring everything up to the level of DestroyerDestroyer was considered the benchmark, the best sounding Kiss album.  Using it as the high water mark, Delaney and Stone attempted to bring the rest of the material to that level.  Remixed were “Firehouse”, “Deuce”, “100,000 Years”, “Detroit Rock City”, “She”, “C’mon And Love Me”, “Hard Luck Woman”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll” and “Black Diamond.”

Most casual buyers don’t want remixes when they buy a hits package, but many won’t even be able to tell the difference.  Some are more obvious.  “Hard Luck Woman” has a longer acoustic section.  “She” now has the “Rock Bottom” intro.  “Black Diamond” is rearranged so that it ends where it begins and repeats to fade.  By and large, these remixes are not obtrusive.  They enable a great song flow.

And what songs!  “Detroit”, “Beth”, “Deuce”, “Hotter Than Hell”, “Cold Gin”, “Firehouse”, “Makin’ Love” and more, with very few important exclusions.  The only track that earns scorn from many is “Strutter ‘78”, a re-recording done especially for Double Platinum.  It was done up with a late-70s production featuring compression and shakers.  The “disco era” was on the horizon.  Today, Gene Simmons questions why the re-recording was made.  To sell records, is the answer.

Double Platinum is the album to buy instead of Alive! if you would like to start your Kiss collection with a broad sampling of studio classics.  It’s still an enjoyable front to back listen for anyone.

Today’s rating:

5/5 stars

Original mikeladano.com review:  2012/07/14
Review of foil embossed CD reissue:  2012/11/22

Official apology to Robert V Conte

In my November 2012 review I called the CD liner notes by Conte “shitty” and then added a snarky “Who?”  I knew who he was (I own lots of books with his name inside) and I didn’t need to be bitchy.  His liner notes to the 1997 remastered editions are what they are, and what he was paid to do.  Robert, I hope you accept this apology for what was a dumb comment on my part.

#367: Greatest Hits 2

lebrainsgreatest2

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#367: Greatest Hits 2
A sequel to #364: Greatest Hits

The last time we talked about greatest hits albums, I listed seven reasons that die-hard fans usually shun them.  Readers came up with some of their own, and also arguments to defend greatest hits albums.  I usually advise fans to buy key studio albums rather than compilations, depending on the person.  Yet I still own a few hundred greatest hits albums. There have to be good reasons.

And what about you?  How many do you own?  What are your favourites?  Why did you buy them?  I asked myself those three questions too.  #1. I don’t know.  #2. There are many, but Double Platinum and Killers by Kiss are up there.  #3.  Let’s talk about that in depth…I broke it down into seven points:

KENNY_00011. There are some artists that I barely know. Neil Diamond or Kenny Rogers, for example.  There might be a handful of songs I like, but not enough that I have heard to take the plunge and buy an actual album. Or, I know it’s an artist that I don’t want many albums from.  I have a feeling that I only want one or two CDs, so one of them is usually a greatest hits.  I collect a lot of music, but I can’t collect everybody. Sometimes I’ve done the research to know that I need one or two CDs and nothing more.

2. Exclusive tracks are often dangled as bait. But sometimes greatest hits albums are stuffed with exclusive radio edits and remixes that aren’t obviously credited. Kiss’ Double Platinum is one such album. Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits had a number of special edits of songs. Collectors like myself often look for such versions. They make for an enjoyable way to hear a familiar song with a slightly different slant.

SAM_17443. Artwork. Younger folks might not understand why this matters, but I come from the age of physical product. With some bands, you don’t want just the music. You want all the album covers too; they are sometimes as important as any other aspect of the music. Iron Maiden is the first, obvious example. I own several Iron Maiden greatest hits discs simply because I wanted to own all the Eddies. There is a certain satisfaction in viewing them all lined up in order.

4. Historical importance. Some greatest hits albums are just historically important. Best of Van Halen Volume I for example – even if I didn’t buy it for the two new songs, I would have wanted it for the significant role it played in breaking up Van Hagar! You might want to own Their Greatest Hits by the Eagles for the fact it’s the top selling hits album of all time.

5. Sometimes, I actually do listen to greatest hits! Sure, not often by comparison. But if I’m in the car with the Mrs., she might prefer a Deep Purple greatest hits set to a 5 disc version of Made in Japan. I own ‘em, so if they’re good I may as well play ‘em. Also, If I’m going somewhere and I only have an hour or so to listen to music, a greatest hits album often scratches whatever itch I have.

6. Gateway music. My entrance into the world of Thin Lizzy was one CD (Dedication: The Very Best of).

DEDICATIONThat point is the most important one.  Using a greatest hits album to delve further in the discography is such an excellent experience.  My first two Deep Purple’s were greatest hits.  Now my Purple collection is of a prodigious size.  I don’t even know how many I have.  100 maybe?  More?  And it keeps growing!

My first Floyd? Echoes: The Best of Pink Floyd.  My first Rush?  Chronicles.  First ZZ Top? Greatest Hits.  See where I’m going with this?  These are bands that, today, I am still collecting.  I still buy whatever’s coming out.  Which brings me to my last point.

7. Personal history.  I’ve developed a relationship with some of those greatest hits albums over the years, even if they have been superseded by better ones.  Something about the familiarity, I suppose.  But even though all my first greatest hits albums were on cassette, I still went and bought CD copies of them all.  In some cases, vinyl too!

What are your favourites?  Does it bother you to own multiple copies of the same songs?  If your favourite band came out with a greatest hits album tomorrow, would you consider buying it?  Let me know!

 

REVIEW: KISS – Double Platinum (foil embossed CD reissue)

Next in line of my reviews from Record Store Excursion 2012!  Check out the video below if you missed it.  This one bought at HMV, in their 2 for $25 sale.  What I came for was Japanese imports, which they apparently don’t carry anymore.  Why?  

MIKE AND AARON GO TO TORONTO

KISS – Double Platinum (1978, 1997 foil embossed reissue)

For the record, until Record Store Excursion 2012, I’d never seen this before.  It’s a pretty cool, pretty accurate CD reproduction of the original foil embossed LP.  As far as appearances go, it’s superior to the usual jewel case version, and it’s even superior to the 1997 Japanese edition, which I also have.  The cover is fragile, prone to scuffs and fingerprinting, so I’ve kept mine nice and safe in a sandwich bag.

I like that its embossed, not just flat cardboard.  I like that the faces inside the cover are also embossed, just like the original LP.  The photos don’t really do it justice.  I wish I knew the story behind this.  In all my years at the record store I never saw one, even though the year on the back clearly states 1997 (the same year as the other Kiss remasters).  It even still has the same crappy 1997 liner notes by Robert V. Conte (who?).

I first heard this album back in 1985 or 1986, and it was my first exposure to songs like “Hard Luck Woman” and “Makin’ Love”. For years I would often recommend this album as one of the first Kiss albums for people to get. It is still an excellent introduction despite the fact that the market has been flooded with approximately 15 different compilations (rough guess) since then.  It’s also still an excellent introduction even though most of the material has been remixed.  (A lot of people can’t tell the difference anyway.)  There’s also one “new” song, a disco-ish remake of “Strutter” called “Strutter ’78”.  For me, these were the original versions that I heard!

The technical reasoning for the remixing was to make the band’s uneven catalogue sound more alike, when presented together in this fashion. The material produced by Bob Ezrin (Destroyer) sounded leaps and bounds different than the other stuff, so it was remixed to bring it to Ezrin’s level.

“Strutter ’78” was re-recorded with more compression on the drums. I still think it’s a great track, but it lacks the fire of the Kiss original. It’s more sleek. “Hard Luck Woman” has been remixed to highlight the acoustic guitars, leaving the band out until later in the song. “Rock Bottom’s” intro is presented here without the song itself, and it does work in that form, serving now as an intro to “She”. “Black Diamond” lacks the slow-down ending, and I kind of prefer this version: Instead, at the end, the song starts all over again and goes into a fade.

My only complaint about Double Platinum was always in regards to the CD version. Since the original pressing of the LP had the Kiss logo embossed on silver foil, I felt the CD reissues were cheap and didn’t do it justice, even the Japanese, which just has a dull paper cover. The domestic jewel case CD is just printed in silver ink.

Where did this come from?  What’s the story?  No idea.  Comment below!

5/5 stars