CHARLY’S ROCK COLUMN: KISS – Rock and Roll Over (1976)

Review by: Charly Saenz

“I Want You” is one of those classic Kiss stadium pleasers. And it pleases me to no end, the slow part, the fast part. It works, it’s pure Stanley. “Take Me” is direct crunching hard rock, with that hiccup chorus and echo voices. Another Stanley rocker, this time with a quite involved solo by Ace.

Gene brings his super classic “Callin’ Dr Love” to the party. The key though, are the background vocals, most surely Paul & Ace but also some wicked “hidden” vocals, which I bet are provided by Gene. Ace really shines here, boy. “Ladies Room” is one of those pure rock and roll Kiss songs, not much to say, but it’s a good one. “Baby Driver”, composed and sung by Peter Criss, in his usual funky style, it’s a nice different touch to close Side A. Did I tell you I’m listening to this on cassette? As it should be!

Well, Side B is a different affair for me. “Love’em, Leave’em” is the quintessential repetitive hard rock song with a nasty chorus; only Ace does something to save this mess, fortunately it ain’t too long. “Mr Speed” is even more forgettable. “See You In Your Dreams” is insufferable, Gene, please don’t dream about me. And I won’t even mention “Makin’ Love”. Oh I did: Hell’s Bloody Bells. Well, to be honest, Ace shines in the solo, but listening to Paul’s continuous plea for sex gives me a headache. What an irony.

But you get “Hard Luck Woman” too! a precious ballad by Paul, sung by Peter’s raspy voice (heck it was meant to be sung by Rod Stewart. That makes sense). In my heart it’s a much better song than “Beth”. It made it to the Top 20 but didn’t get that much love out of the circle except in old rusty Classic Rock radios.

I guess this is a usually forgotten album – but Side A and that classic in Side B are quite good! And the Argentina bloody cover is cool! Well – You make the best of what’s still around, you know.

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KISS – Dynasty (1979)

Review by: Victor Guimarães
Album assigned by: B.b. Fultz

KISS don’t need an introduction: they are just too famous. Either for their iconic face paintings or for the infamous claims of making a band just to get laid and making money. Another very famous feature of KISS’s career is the amount of criticism of their music, for being too commercial, full of clichés (all types one can imagine) and with all songs seeming to be radio-formatted to be potential hits.

After a hard, but successful time in the 70s and a temporary split in which all band members recorded solo albums, came Dynasty. It’s a bit sad to say, but Dynasty is an album to which these critics from above could be easily applied. One might want to burn me at a stake, but the album is not all bad. It’s got its good points, such as the megahit “I Was Made For Loving You” and some other OK songs, and despite the musical generality and lack of creativity there are also some cool instrumentals and passages here and there. Criticizing it is far easier as the record isn’t as entertaining as it would seem (although not as bad as other KISS albums) and could even be labeled as boring. Songs – melodies, lyrics, choruses, etc – and production – yes, including the recording-added effects and such – are all too mainstream, too pop-oriented for my taste, as it looks like the album is trying to please the audience first, and then making true, quality rock music. 

After two paragraphs with almost nothing but criticism to the comic-heroes band, I gotta say that KISS do have their positive traits. And if you think I’m going crazy, just try to see them live. I did, and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, with nothing but great performances and production. And while it’s true that I find their discography quite lacking in general, they are, for me, the very definition of a you-love-to-hate band. Dynasty is not KISS’s best album, or even a good album as it would score above-average at most, depending on the reviewer’s parameters for what is average, but it’s still a listenable 70s hard rock album.