Friday, May 27, 2022

Kiss 9: Double Platinum

The label’s game plan for Kiss was to have fresh product on the shelves as fast as kids could buy them. Sometimes this resulted in the band releasing albums before they’d finished writing the songs, and usually not filled to capacity. Two live albums already meant completists owned many of the same songs twice, and to further dent those wallets, 1976’s The Originals was a specially priced set that crammed the first three albums (in paper replica sleeves) into a wallet-style sleeve with the added bonus of a 16-page booklet, sticker, and trading cards.

By 1978 the band was bigger than ever, and while pressure continued to mount, a marketing campaign was afoot that would keep them in the limelight, if not necessarily together. First up was Double Platinum, a greatest hits compilation packaged in a faux-silver embossed cover. Along with the usual merchandising and Kiss Army order forms inside the sleeve was a replica double platinum award plaque, with room for the owner to inscribe his (or her) name. (While it looked as convincing as the records that came on the backs of cereal boxes, there was no music in the grooves on this piece of cardboard. We know this because we have friends who tried to play them, only to be left with a crude hole torn in the center of the label. They hung it on their bedroom walls anyway.)

The set begins with one new song: “Strutter ‘78”, a re-recording of the first track of the first album, given a slight but not embarrassing disco sheen. From there, rather than present straight dubs of the songs they already had, many of the songs were remixed, sometimes drastically, for more unified sound throughout. “Do You Love Me” has more pronounced vocals, and “Hard Luck Woman” delays the drums, but “Calling Dr. Love” gets a new, more “demonic” intro, and “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll” reminds us why it wasn’t that good in the first place. Besides being all written solely by Paul Stanley, the songs on side two are mostly left alone, so listeners can stomp along with “Love Gun”, “God Of Thunder”, “Hotter Than Hell”, and “I Want You” with little distraction, but “Firehouse” is sped up, raising the pitch a whole step, which actually works.

On side three, “Deuce” and “100,000 Years” have mild edits in the vocals, while “Detroit Rock City” loses the context of the original album, so no extended intro and no car crash, and shorter breaks. The most bizarre setup is a segment of the acoustic intro from “Rock Bottom” faded in before “She”; it’s not listed on the label, and the track list in the gatefold lists it at the start of the side. “Rock ‘N Roll All Nite” ends the side, as it should. “Beth” starts side four, conveniently for those who want to cue it up quickly, and the sentiment is wiped away by “Makin’ Love”. “Cold Gin” is pretty much the same, but on either side of it, “C’mon And Love Me” is sped up a half-step, and “Black Diamond” is totally different, with not only a longer intro, but the song started over again from the intro in place of the gradual slowed-down fade from the original album, and now fading before the verse starts again.

On the surface, all these differences don’t really take away from the music. Double Platinum is also consistent in its length, being as long as the two longest Kiss studio albums combined. As a starter kit, it works. But to date, unfortunately, the album has not been certified higher than platinum (single, not double). But at least they made it a single CD.

Kiss Double Platinum (1978)—


  1. I wasn't into Kiss, but my younger brothers were. Sort of like how kids were into trashy comic books. I must say Kiss and their management were brilliant at marketing. The music itself is almost besides the point!
    Thought you'd enjoy a bit of surreality:
    And this:

    1. Oh, the '70s. Meanwhile, this:

    2. I really did NOT need to see that photo!