is more in the form of a rant than a review, just so you know going in.
Last month ScottVile looked at the latest
“greatest hits” installment from Aerosmith, a band that doesn’t shy away
from repackaging their music into new compilations, throwing a new cover
on it and hoping people will buy it, even though they probably already
have most of the songs on other greatest hits CD’s.
KISS has taken that to a new low, and are
utterly shameless about it. Since the original members regrouped, KISS
has put out one “greatest hits” compilation after another. One “you wanted
the best…” was only half filled with music, the other half was an interview
with Jay Leno, which might be cool for a fan to hear once or twice but
how many times can you replay an interview and keep your interest?
KISS plays this new compilation off by
saying it covers their entire career. True, it does but it’s hardly the
“Very Best of KISS”. If you’re a diehard fan, chances are you already own
the Box Set and won’t need this CD. This might make a good introduction
to KISS’s music to a new fan but the other “greatest hits” CD’s do as well.
There is really no apparent reason to release this CD except to sell a
few thousand extra CD’s.
Ok, we know that KISS wants to make their
money and there were quite a few lean years for Gene and Paul during the
80’s. Not to mention the fact that their management signed away their merchandising
in their heyday of the 70’s for a song, the band got very little out of
that gold mine. So chalk it up to lessons learned and this time around
Gene and Paul weren’t going to make the same mistakes, they were gonna
milk regrouping and putting the makeup back on for all it is worth… and
then some. In a way it is fitting, KISS has always been over the top and
well releasing one greatest hits package after another is pretty over the
top. Let’s not get into all of the new merchandising schemes they have
gotten into since they put the makeup back on… KISS condoms or KISS Kaskets
anyone? No, what about a KISS car?
I’ll admit it, I was a huge KISS fan growing
up. I was just a kid when my cousin took me to see KISS on their last tour
in makeup (“War Machine Tour” for the “Creatures of the Night” album).
They fired my young imagination and did help get me into rock music and
made me a devote follower. After that concert I went to the used record
store and snatched up every KISS record I could find. “Destroyer” became
I was watching when they revealed themselves
for the first time without makeup on MTV and debuted the video for “Lick
It Up” (still one of my favorite KISS albums). To my eleven year-old eyes
they were more than a rock band, they were bigger than life, sure part
of it was the music but another part was the whole image, the whole KISSness
of it all. Unless you’ve been there you won’t know what it’s like but I
was a devote recruit in the KISS Army and remained one for years, always
longing for the day they would reunite with Peter and Ace and put the make-up
back on. During those years they released several albums and no longer
having the image to fall back on, they had to really deliver with the music
and contrary to popular opinion they did come out with some great music
through the years. I don’t care who well conceived your image is,
you don’t stick around in rock n roll for 30 years on image alone.
I got older and my taste in music broadened
but part of me still loved KISS. When they released “Revenge”, I thought
this is it the ultimate KISS line-up, the ultimate KISS album. But it would
be some years before we got a follow-up studio album. In the meantime grunge
happened and something that many diehard KISS fans had hoped for finally
came to pass; the original members of KISS regrouped, put on the makeup
and went out on tour in full KISS glory. I saw several shows on that tour
and it was great, it lived up to my years of expectations and then some.
It was like going back in time and in my mid twenties, some of the spirit
of youth had been replaced with responsibility and growing up and seeing
KISS again like that was a way to tap into that youthful dream you have
of playing air guitar in your bedroom with your mom pounding on the door,
yelling to turn down that noise.
If they would have quit there, I think
my enthusiasm would still be intact. But it was several things that really
turned me against the “modern” KISS. One was hearing the studio album they
planned to put out before they regrouped. KISS has always been a band that
followed the trends in rock but hearing them do Alice in Chains type songs
was a bit too much. Then they did an album supposedly with all four original
members (rumor has it studio hacks were actually involved). That album
which had such promise, was really disappointing. They repeated one of
their mistakes from the past, wrapped an album around a concept. Although,
the first time they did this with “The Elder” the music was actually pretty
good, not just KISS. With “Pycho Circus” they went with the theme of a
comic book series and the music was predictably mediocre. The title track
was classic KISS but the rest of the album seemed to be missing the old
spark and magic, sort of like they were doing it by the numbers and just
threw it together. A tour followed and another greatest hits package.
Then the band announced they were retiring and doing one final tour. So
I went and had a blast at the shows. Say what you want about KISS, they
do put on one hell of a show. But then the retirement never happened. Peter
Criss left the group and they carried on with Eric Singer wearing Peter’s
makeup. That didn’t seem right, before they would give the new member their
own make up, like when Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent joined the band. Then
they started appearing in concert with someone else in Ace’s makeup. All
of these things, coupled with the over the top merchandising, the admission
that hey we aren’t retiring, kind of killed the magic of it all for me.
Maybe I’ve outgrown my childhood heroes and finally see them without all
the varnish, for what they are; normal human beings doing a job but they
were never just another band and now they are destroying their legacy,
even with some diehard fans.
This CD is just the icing on the cake.
I don’t begrudge KISS their success and wanting to make money but come
on guys give us something new. Give us something that we can believe in,
don’t just mine your catalog yet again, slap a new cover on it and put
out yet another greatest hits collection.
If you are gonna do a compilation, don’t
do the predictable thing, why not put out a compilation of the non-hits,
or the forgotten hits? They did partially here, so that is one thing in
favor of this CD because is it does include some songs that have been ignored
since “Double Platinum”; KISS classics like “I Want You”, “Got to Choose”
and “C'mon And Love Me”. But some of the songs here are the exact same
tracks that are on virtually all the compilations, “Callin Dr. Love”, “Christine
Sixteen”, “Deuce”, “Beth”, “Strutter”, “Detroit Rock City”, need I go on?
Why not more of the other songs? “Magic Touch”, “Sweet Pain”, “Under The
Rose”, “100,000 Years”, “Mainline”, “Rock Bottom”, “Take Me”, “Makin'
Love”, “Naked City”, “Odyssey”, “Charisma”. There are tons of old school
songs that could make up a cool compilation. You can even take a few tracks
from the solo albums, like Paul’s “Tonight You Belong To Me”, “Move On”
“Take Me Away (Together As One)”. Ace’s “Fractured Mirror” and “Rip It
Out”. Gene’s “Radio Active”, “See You Tonight” and “Mr. Make Believe”.
Peter’s “I Can't Stop the Rain” and “Don’t You Let Me Down”.
What about the four songs from “Killers”
that were never released in the U.S.?
From the unmasked days, what about
“Reason to Live”, “King of the Mountain”, “Secretly Cruel”, “Thrills In
The Night “, “Every time I Look At You”, “Rise To It”, “Take it Off”, “Tears
Are Fallin”, “Heart Of Chrome”, “I Just Wanna”, “Hide Your Heart”, “You
Love Me To Hate You”, “Million to One”, “All Hell’s Breaking Loose”, “I've
Had Enough (Into The Fire)”, there are plenty of great songs to choose
from, there is no reason to repackage the same songs over and over again.
Most fans have these songs and those who want them can find them on any
number of compilations, why not put together a compilation that shows more
of the group’s musical history aside from the same predictable tunes? If
you did that then maybe people would have a reason to pick up a new KISS
compilation. As it stands, this one doesn’t differentiate itself enough
from the last Greatest Hits CD, so there really is no reason to buy it.
- Very Best Of Kiss
Got To Choose
Hotter Than Hell
C'mon And Love Me
Rock And Roll All Night
Detroit Rock City
Shout It Out Loud
I Want You
Calling Dr. Love
Hard Luck Woman
I Stole Your Love
New York Groove
I Was Made For Lovin' You
I Love It Loud
Lick It Up
God Gave Rock & Roll To You II
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