Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Kiss that Fell Short of Greatness

Call it an impulse buy.

Last night--technically really early this morning--after a rare viewing of "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey," I downloaded a Kiss song.  Not a make-out song, a Kiss song.  Meaning the band.  Kiss.

It was the first time I've ever downloaded a Kiss song.

See, in spite of their stature among the icons of late 1970's/early 1980's Classic Rock--an era I have mined repeatedly--I've never been much of a Kiss fan.  Mostly because I expected more from them.

Allow me to explain:

My first exposure to Kiss came during a family trip to Cleveland, Ohio when I was somewhere in the neighborhood of five years old.  My mom's side of the family lives out there, and while hanging out with my cousin Jamie (who was about twelve years old, if I remember right) I discovered half a dozen Kiss albums in his bedroom.

The album covers astounded me.  If the makeup and costumes and overall evil appearance of the albums was any indicator, the music should have come straight from the bowels of Hell itself.  It was almost scary.  It was also kind of cool.

My cousin never actually played the albums for me, though.  We were too preoccupied with his Atari.  Instead, I went on to have my Beatles phase in elementary school, and my unfortunate pop phase in junior high, before cementing my Classic Rock roots in high school.  I picked up a CD compilation of Classic Rock hits because I desperately wanted a copy of "Sunshine of Your Love," and the disc also happened to have a Kiss track: "Rock and Roll All Nite."

I wasn't impressed.  I thought Kiss would have produced the darkest, edgiest music ever, but instead I got this bizarre power-pop rock that kind of felt like it would have been better suited for a Broadway stage.  It turns out Kiss was a lot more Butt Rock than Classic Rock.  More Motley Crue than Led Zeppelin.  Too bad.

I do have to give them credit for the costumes, though.  They definitely took Bowie to the next level.  And given that my first exposure to them came at the same time "Star Wars" was shaping my young mind, it's safe to say that Kiss may have played a small part in the formation of my lifelong interest in the visual arts.  I just didn't dig the actual product that much.

So why did I download "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" last night?  I don't know.  For the same reason I downloaded "Pour Some Sugar On Me" or "Rock and Roll Heaven" by the Righteous Brothers.  Music serves a lot of different purposes.  Sometimes corny 80's rock anthems just sound right.

Bill and Ted would probably agree.