Scott, our venerable HMO, sent me this album. With KISS, I know the hits. We all do. They’re fairly inescapable. I had to Wiki this record to find out more about what KISS was up to in 1980, and now I know as much as you do (or could) about it. Fun!
In a way, this is a neat way to review a record by a band where the most popular songs are the only ones known (none of them appear here). It’s uncharted territory for me. Bring it on!
Is That You? is a groovy rocker that flirst with cheesy. Could be heavier-sounding, with that riff, if they’d let it. The undoing of many a great tune, really… Shandi is a period-perfect ballad. It was 1980, so extrapolate from there amongst yourselves… It’s be easy to rip on it now, but at the time I’m sure it was the bomb. It’s a smartly-written song, but in 2014 it sounds like, well, elevator music.
Talk To Me is weak, lyrically. It’s like they spent an evening with a thesaurus, writing sentences ending in rhymes of “-tion.” It’s not a bad song, as these things go, though. Good guitar solo. And am I wrong for thinking I hear Beach Boys in this one? Or was it just the bit about the vibraTIONS he was getting… Naked City is a better, slinky rock intro that becomes almost a rip-off of the Police’s Roxanne. The bass is very prominent. When the song hits the chorus it all gets a bit better. Think what would happen if you mixed Naked Eyes and the Police, but had KISS singing. Weird. The obligatory guitar solo is short but sweet.
What Makes The World Go ‘Round is like a Bon Jovi song, all the clichés (haha) but it’s another pop song that works in the context of when it was wrought. The chorus rocks the most, here… Tomorrow made me wonder if Rik Okasek produced it, so much did it sound like a Cars song. It’s a fun pop tune all the same, and whatever else I could say about the sound now, looking back, it is still true that it’s another well-constructed tune.
Two Sides Of The Coin is bluesy, almost a Keef homage in the (different singer)’s vocals. At least, I heard it a bit in the verses. Decent track… She’s So European is just a dumb song title. But it’s another tune that would benefit greatly from heavier production (and a loss of the synths, full-stop). This song could really rock, if they let it.
Easy As It Seems is yet another pop song, pure and simple. Ah, the 80s… Torpedo Girl even has the “battle stations!” intro. It’s a very jazzy tune with a great drum beat. I liked it, for all that the lyrics are rather painful… And finally, it’s You’re All That I Want. This is a solid rocker. I can see this one being a lot of fun in concert. It’d be easy to pump your fist in the air along with this one.
In sum, I’m not really one to consider myself any sort of expert on KISS. This takes some restraint to admit, because they’ve done so much and been around so long it’s really easy to have a half-informed opinion about them, but I won’t do them that disservice. I definitely liked parts of this album. The rest was very of-its-time and it is what it is.
My thanks to our HMO for including this in the stack of awesomeness he sent my way. I was really glad to hear it!
NB: If you want a more insightful take on this record, re-acquaint yourself with Mike’s take on it from back when he reviewed all the KISS albums in order (yes he’s insane like that). Read it RIGHT HERE!