As I sit and write this, I am listening to KISS’ “Double Platinum” album. It’s a compilation record, released in 1978, that features some of the best tracks from KISS’ first six studio albums. It’s one of the best hard-rock records of the ‘70s, and really, one of the best hard-rock records of all-time. And its songs, more than anything, are why KISS will be taking its rightful place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month.
KISS, whose members were schooled on The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, have written great songs. They have groove. They have energy. They have swagger. And quite a few of them, such as the ferocious “Deuce” and the grand “Shout It Out Loud,” kick some major ass.
Looking for something a little more sentimental? KISS also gave you “Beth” and “Hard Luck Woman.” Though they were hard-rock pioneers that came along only a few short years after Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, KISS has always had a fine sense of melody.
Those songs captured a generation, and when you combined it with the band’s explosive, innovative stage shows and larger-than-life image, it made KISS the most popular band in the world and clearly, as the years passed, one of the most influential. They were Alice Cooper on steroids. They were capable musicians, good songwriters and grand showmen, and again, they had the tunes. I remember watching an interview with Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue many years ago and he was asked about KISS’ influence of Motley’s stageshows, and while he certainly acknowledged that, he made it clear that it was the band’s music he loved the most.
“KISS,” he said, “have great songs.”