Friday, December 11, 2020

Kiss 5: Destroyer

A whopping six months had passed since Kiss released Alive!, partially since they were touring to support it. When it came time for their next studio album, the band boldly hooked up with Bob Ezrin, who had most recently produced several Alice Cooper albums. As a result, Destroyer was cleaner, and occasionally tougher, than the first three Kiss albums, and incorporated writing credits from people outside the band.
While not a concept album, there is something resembling audio theater tying the tracks together, beginning with the montage of someone listening to the news on the radio, then getting into his (we assume) car and rocking out to older Kiss songs before “Detroit Rock City” starts for real. This is still a great riff and catchy chorus, with a pristine solo; the album version goes as far as to underscore the impending carnage in the final verse by using the sound of a car crash. This goes right into “King Of The Night Time World”, which also could have kicked off the album nicely, not to mention giving frustrated teenage boys an anthem. Any doom and gloom intended by “God Of Thunder” is negated by Bob Ezrin’s sons, whose surreptitiously recorded voices had already graced a Lou Reed album. More unintentional comedy arrives via “Great Expectations”, which cribs a Beethoven melody and uses a boys’ choir to hold up Gene Simmons’ laughable boasts.
“Flaming Youth” is very well-constructed, and with good reason: Ezrin cobbled it together from three different songs by Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Simmons that he felt weren’t up to snuff. In another sign of things to come, the guitar solos on this and “Sweet Pain” are played by Dick Wagner, also from the Alice Cooper band and well known from another Lou Reed album. “Shout It Out Loud” delivers another party anthem in the middle of side two, but this would not be the album’s main sales draw. That honor went to “Beth”, brought in by Peter Criss from his previous band and given an over-the-top reading with Ezrin on piano and members of the New York Philharmonic underneath his shaky vocal. To Paul and Gene’s horror, audiences ate it up. Paul gets the last word in “Do You Love Me”, balancing double entendres with alleged sensitivity. (While not listed on the original label or sleeve, “Rock And Roll Party” provides a closing collage to match the one that opened the album.)
The variety of styles and pop touches may have compromised the image somewhat, but Destroyer only increased the band’s popularity. Besides, they’d have another album out by the end of the year anyway.
The album’s status made it one of the few to get anything resembling an anniversary overhaul. While released a year later than the more round number of 35, Destroyer (Resurrected) was wholly remixed from the original master tapes by Bob Ezrin, who brought out buried instruments and vocals. “Sweet Pain” now features Ace’s original, wiped solo, while the standard track is added at the very end. And of course, it uses the original cover design. Some fans felt this put a mustache on the Mona Lisa, but how would they have felt if the remix was stuck in a double-CD set, with or without any other extras?

Kiss Destroyer (1976)—
2012 Destroyer (Resurrected): “same” as 1976, plus 1 extra track

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