Absolutely. Plus, there is the logical fallacy of thinking that because they were in your favorite era of a band, that they were therefore the best talents. That's just silly! They were good enough to play the kind of basic rock and roll that made KISS great. That's not the same thing as being great players, especially once the chemical dependency issues got out of control.
I think that would be an interesting thread itself of bandmembers who were part of a classic lineup, but not necessarily the most talented.
Those sorts of things are often interesting. One of the best developments in journalism in the past, what, 10-15 years?, has to be that sort of "oral history" or "in their own words" kind of story. The first I recall seeing of them were by Bill Simmons at his ESPN position. Love 'em.
After three raw rock and roll studio albums and one (ahem) live album that finally broke them through to the mainstream, KISS finally hit gold—platinum, actually—with 1976’s Destroyer. The album reached #11 on the charts and spawned hit singles and live classics alike, all with a startling cinematic production style (not to mention co-writing and arranging assistance, as well as good, old-fashioned practice time) from Bob Ezrin.
So it was natural that the band’s next album would be … not remotely that. Rock and Roll Over more closely matched the first three studio albums in its relatively straight-ahead arrangements and production style.
Where it differed from those earlier efforts was the quality of the engineering and production: simplicity isn’t the same as mediocrity, by any means. Eddie Kramer had by this time not only produced Alive!, but had engineered or produced the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Carly Simon, and even the Beatles.
Rock and Roll Over is a clear, crisp rock and roll album. The playing is good, maybe a carryover from the newfound discipline that Ezrin installed on its predecessor. The singing, too, is as strong as ever, such as in the classic Gene-and-Paul harmonies of “Ladies Room” and “Mr. Speed,” or Peter Criss’s lead on Paul Stanley’s “Hard Luck Woman.”
And those performances shine with the top-notch recordings helmed by Kramer. This wasn’t a regression so much as a return to the core of the band’s sound. And in fact, it wasn’t as if it abandoned all the tools of the studio: there are acoustic guitar overdubs, occasional guitar effects that take it out of the natural band-playing-live affair. It sounds almost like Destroyer minus the bells and whistle (or rather, minus the strings and crying children…).
The album is mostly carried by Stanley and Gene Simmons. As great as Criss’s performance is on the “Maggie May” wannabe, “Hard Luck Woman” is a Stanley-penned song, as are “Mr. Speed,” “I Want You,” “Makin’ Love,” and “Take Me.” Simmons had standouts “Ladies Room,” “Calling Dr. Love,” and especially “See You In Your Dreams” (which he revisited a few years later on his solo album). Ace Frehley is sadly absent as a leading presence after eight songwriting credits spanning the first four studio albums.
The result of it all was another #11 album, a platinum seller, spawning two top-20 hits (“Hard Luck Woman” at #15, “Calling Dr. Love” at #16).
The album may not feature a lot of stone-cold classics like “Strutter,” “Rock and Roll All Nite,” “Beth,” or “Shout It Out Loud,” but in avoiding any real clunkers, it makes for one of the more consistent listens of any KISS album. It’s an album on which each song elicits an “oh yeah! I love this song!” (At least from me.)
I should add this is one of the albums you see named by big KISS fans as a dark horse favorite album, similar to how 20 or 25 years ago the rebel Beatles fan might pick Revolver or the white album. It's not an obvious choice, but there is enough to like about it that a knowledgeable fan can explain the position without being laughed out of the room.
Post by Sheriff John Stone on Sept 8, 2019 21:42:36 GMT
I didn't purchase this album but I'm familiar with it. One thing you have to say about KISS - they were consistent. Every KISS album had its share of aces (no pun intended), and Rock And Roll Over is no exception. These guys knew the formula, knew how to write songs. "I Want You", "Calling Dr. Love", "Hard Luck Woman", and "Makin' Love" are vintage KISS; great songs. I also like "Ladies Room" and "Love 'Em And Leave 'Em". And, of course, the same with the lead vocals; very high quality as usual.
I agree with the Kapitan. Rock And Roll Over is just a straight ahead, back-to-basics, hard rockin' KISS album. Give 'em what they want. Ten 3:00-3:30 minute songs, just the way I like them. Looks like Peter Criss was finding his niche as the group's "sensitive" singer. Nice album cover, too.
Don't misunderstand, I'm not being critical or complaining, but two questions: Why did the band kinda "return to the roots" after spreading their wings on Destroyer, and after all the praise for Bob Ezrin's work on Destroyer, why did they switch to Eddie Kramer?
Why did the band kinda "return to the roots" after spreading their wings on Destroyer, and after all the praise for Bob Ezrin's work on Destroyer, why did they switch to Eddie Kramer?
I wish I knew.
I have guesses, and I think the two questions are two sides of the coin (to add my own Ace Frehley pun). Ezrin drove them hard, and he expanded their sound further than what they, the band itself, intended. I think they were thrilled to have the success of a ballad like "Beth," hence "Hard Luck Woman." But I don't think they really felt that they could keep being KISS if they were going to feature orchestras, pianos, sound effects, etc. I don't think they were artistically interested in going the direction Bob Ezrin took them, results be damned. Their audience was expanded to include some women (or girls, more likely) from "Beth," but realistically their bread and butter was going to be teenage boys who wanted to rawk.
So I think they wanted to take a certain amount of the professionalism of Destroyer--Gene and Paul ain't dumb--but apply it to a more bread and butter sound.
Paul can definitely be opinionated. But I don’t understand his problem with the engineering of this album. Sounds good to me. If he wanted it to sound as good as Zep, maybe he and his band should try to play like Zep...
I'm sure he's a smart guy. He and Paul are obviously great businessmen. But, I feel like every aspect of life these days is becoming political.
Anyway, I've been guilty of overlooking this album for being sandwiched between Destroyer and Love Gun, but I really enjoy it. I Want You in particular is a great opener, but I honestly think the album would've sounded better had Ezrin been kept on board.
Yes, I agree with you: everyone seems to want to make everything politics. There’s a time and place for everything, and I think we agree that when we’re listening to KISS, maybe that’s not the time for a lesson on free market economy or the moral hazard of government benefits! (I only added that “edit” comment because I didn’t want to come across as insulting the man’s intelligence. It’s not that at all.)
I also have always overlooked Rock and Roll Over to some extent. While I don’t remember why—probably just the lack of easily available information in those days—I grew up thinking it was after Alive! and before Destroyer, and I liked it more in that context. For some reason its placement between probably the two best KISS studio albums bothers me. Maybe it’s that the sound of this continued growth through Destroyer made sense, with Love Gun a slightly less dramatic but still absolutely top-notch album, as the choice of a band on top of the world. R&RO, though interrupts that idea more and is instead a pretty significant drop from both the albums that came before and after. Doesn’t matter in reality, but I always liked it more the way I mistakenly understood it as a kid.
Ezrin producing … I don’t know if it would have sounded better. The sound is good, imo. I’m sure he would have added some flourishes here and there, but do the songs call out for more pianos, organs, strings, and inevitable Ezrin kids crying? I’m not sure what he would have added to improve it. (I say that as someone who likes Ezrin.)
Post by Sheriff John Stone on Sept 13, 2019 2:36:32 GMT
When Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley first started to "talk", they were very crude and demeaning to women and I kinda wished they would've just shut up. But then I got used to it and realized it was just part of their schtick. They were almost becoming the personas or cartoon characters that they created with their makeup! As they both got older and married, they toned it down a bit, but then they directed their attacks on Ace and Peter. Again, at first I wished they would NOT have aired their dirty laundry, but, on the other hand, interviewers kept asking and they were just telling the truth, and I respected that. I didn't think the comments were productive, but...It almost resembled the Mike Love school of interviewing.
Now, today, all of the members of KISS appear to be all over the place with their interviews and opinions. They seem to have an opinion on everything. I still wish they would be a little more...considerate...of others they choose to attack, but then they wouldn't be KISS. For a group who wrote relatively straightforward and simple lyrics, they are one of the more intelligent bands. I used to watch that Gene Simmons reality show, Gene Simmons' Family Jewels, and I found Gene fascinating. He certainly wasn't a phony. The man was obsessed with money and didn't apologize for it. He put that facelift out there for everybody to see (although that was also a ratings ploy). I guess it would be a nice story if before they go to the great Room Service in the sky - or Rock And Roll Hell - that they make their peace with each other.
B.E.: I skimmed the Mark Linett interview recently posted on SSMB. He said he’s hoping for a Fall release for the box set.
Feb 27, 2020 2:58:34 GMT
Sheriff John Stone: Was hoping for a spring/early summer release, however, I hope for a spring/early summer release with EVERY Beach Boys' album! I can wait for fall.
Feb 27, 2020 18:50:55 GMT
Kapitan: Maybe we’ll get that BW doc that we heard about way back when, Long Promised Doc 😀
Feb 27, 2020 19:18:45 GMT
kds: I get the feeling that documentary will one day be mentioned in the same breath as the 50th Anniversary Doc that was supposed to happen in 2012
Feb 27, 2020 20:55:14 GMT
Kapitan: And Pleasure Island!?
Feb 27, 2020 20:55:51 GMT
Sheriff John Stone: I'm skeptical about that Long Promised Road doc, not whether it will eventually come out, but the quality. If the highlight is Brian and an interviewer driving around and Brian commenting on BB songs/albums, I can only imagine how that'll go...
Feb 27, 2020 22:18:29 GMT
Sheriff John Stone: ...Brian, what do you think about the song, "Long Promised Road"? Brian - "I thought Carl sang it great." Brian, what do you think about The Beach Boys Love You album? Brian - "There's some great songs on that album."
Feb 27, 2020 22:21:28 GMT
Kapitan: I'm skeptical about EVERYTHING. But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in seeing and hearing it all.
Feb 27, 2020 23:50:16 GMT
Wata: I hope it would include some rarities - hopefully with the accompanying soundtrack. And it's time we got to listen to snippets from the rendition of "Long Promised Road" Brian supposedly recorded for the doc. I'm not holding my breath for it, but still...
Feb 28, 2020 5:58:00 GMT
kds: From the description, it sounded like a new version of the Brian Wilson On Tour doc.
Feb 28, 2020 13:20:10 GMT
Kapitan: Except as I recall, they were focusing on driving around LA for a lot of it. Just Brian and whoever the eventual filmmaker was (there had been a replacement) seeing the sights and chatting.
Feb 28, 2020 13:28:28 GMT
Kapitan: btw, it's just a couple weeks shy of a year since they released the movie poster.
Feb 28, 2020 13:31:24 GMT
kds: And, didn't they do the driving around bit in the IJWMFTT doc?
Feb 28, 2020 13:38:15 GMT