On this day in KISSTORY – February 18, 1974 – KISS released their self-titled debut album, via Casablanca Records. I have to pinch myself, realizing that this KISS album is 41 years old! This was a phenomenal debut album from the iconic KISS, a launching pad to eventual world super stardom that continues to this very hour. Here was a debut Heavy Rock album that featured three singers. How many bands of any Rock genre pulled that off back then or now? The great Ace Frehley didn’t even sing on this album; how crazy is that?
Black Diamond is my favorite song that the awesome Peter Criss has ever sung, even though I will always dig his power ballad, Beth, from 1976’s KISS album Destroyer. The fascinating aspect about this KISS album is that it gave Rock fans three singers that did not sound alike. Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Peter Criss were and still are so unique, vocally, that it’s alarming in a grand way.
This album features such KISS classics: Strutter, Firehouse, Cold Gin, Deuce, 100,000 Years and Black Diamond. These are songs that have remained relevant to this day, in my Metal opinion. Strutter and Black Diamond are two KISS songs that I couldn’t live without, for Metal sakes! To this day I love the rawness of sound that this KISS debut radiates. This was not a polished album, by any stretch of the Metal imagination. To remaster this KISS album is a Metal sin.
I was only eight years old when this KISS album was released. I had absolutely no idea KISS even existed at that tender age. At eight years old, all I cared about was the Saturday morning cartoons, coloring books, bugs and my Matchbox car collection. Back then, it was a different culture in America, with (of course) no internet, cell phones or social networks. Little kids like myself were able to enjoy childhood and not be rushed into pre-adulthood; little kids of today cannot even be seen in the toy aisles of Super Walmart. Instead, I have to navigate myself around little kids swarming the computers, cell phones and accessories at Best Buy; and these same little kids are crabbing at their parents, while wearing Slipknot tee shirts and $200 sneakers. You get the point, hopefully.
Is it accurate for me to state that both KISS and their debut album were ahead of their time? I lean towards thinking so. From reading those early album reviews of that time period, I don’t believe the early Rock critics knew what to think or write about KISS. Back in 1974, Rolling Stone magazine was still in a full-throttle state of Flower Power. Heck, the Summer Of Love was only six or so years prior to this KISS album’s release. Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath, The Who, Cream, Free, Led Zeppelin and Alice Cooper already introduced the world to the building blocks of Heavy Metal, thus KISS realistically did get in line when it came to Hard and Heavy Rock. Still, the pioneering Hard Rock and Heavy Metal credentials of this KISS debut album cannot be overlooked.
KISS did break loose with an original sound of melodic heaviness and their stage makeup, image and costumes were and still are stuff of marketing genius. The influence of KISS upon other bands to this day cannot be disputed and it all began with this seminal debut album. Would KISS have been embraced any less by Rock fans if there were no makeup or costumes involved? I guess we’ll never know. Thank God for that.
The first time I ever owned this terrific album was my sophomore year in high school and I obtained it through a trade with a fellow classmate. Whenever an iconic album such as this KISS debut comes up for discussion, I cannot help myself from being nostalgic about the past. For me, remembering the past is celebrating the past. It is albums such as this KISS debut from 1974 that enabled our Hard Rock and Heavy Metal communities to grow and persevere these past four decades. KISS, along with their select peers, paved the way for us all to enjoy the heavy music we embrace today and the KISS debut album will always be a treasure in my Metal world. This KISS album I could never take for granted. Metal be thy name. – Stone
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LONG LIVE KISS.
LONG LIVE METAL.
LONG LIVE THE ROOTS & FAMILY TREE OF METAL.