Kiss versus Rolling Stone Magazine, 1984-82



Rolling Stone magazine has long been considered the "enemy" of Kiss. Throughout their classic era the band never featured on that magazine's cover, though received two substantial features, "Success - It's Just a Kiss Away" (RS #209, Mar. 1976, David McGee) and "Kiss: The Pagan Beasties of Teenage Rock" (RS #236, Apr. 1977, Charles M. Young). Collected here is the "evidence" of that magazine's approach towards the band, from better to worse. Download a PDF.

Review of December 31, 1973 show
(RS #153, Jan. 1974, Gordon Fletcher)
KISS were mentioned very briefly in the review: "After a fiery opening set by Kiss (an "American Black Sabbath" on Neil Bogart's new Casablanca label) and the ribald antics of Teenage Lust, the Stooges assaulted the audience with wave upon wave of material from Raw Power." It was at least a mention of the band's name.

Fillmore East January 7, 1974 mention
(RS #154, Feb. 1974, Random Notes)
"Neil Bogart, ex-co-head of Buddah, has signed a couple of acts to his new Casablanca label: the Parliaments and Kiss. The latter did a special dress rehearsal at Fillmore East January 8th for agents and some press. The four Kissers play very heavy, loud and ultimate monotonous rock in the Black Sabbath tradition; they wear sheet-white make-up and black leather and studs. Midway through their act, dry ice overtakes the stage and the bassist flashes a flaming torch in the air. And they finish in a rain of firecrackers. A sure crowd-pleaser. For crowds of kiddies, that is..."

Review of "Kiss" album
(RS #158, Apr. 1974, Gordon Fletcher)
Kiss is an exciting Brooklyn based band with an imaginative stage presentation and a tight new album. The music is all hard-edged -- they call it "thunderock" -- and throughout their electrical storm solid craftsmanship prevails. Paul Stanley's rhythm guitar is the star of the proceedings, barking out the coarse chord patterns that comprise the foundation of the band's material. Gene Simmons can thus provide an extra dimension to the band's music by playing fluid bass patterns (especially on "Cold Gin") and Peter Criss contributes impressive drumming marked by Keith Moon's power and proficiency.

"Nothing to Lose," "Firehouse" and "Cold Gin" -- a Side One trilogy that would make Alice Cooper proud-provides over ten minutes of steady, stompin' rock & roll with an all-enveloping forcefulness. The manic "Deuce" makes fine music for crushing skulls and "Strutter" prominently displays The lead guitar talents of Ace Frehley, an unmistakable graduate of the Buck Dharma school of frenetic fretting.

An exceptional album, Kiss could have been even better had the group incorporated more of their concert sound into the recording studio. Onstage they rain a Black Sabbath-like fury, but here they sound more like a cross between Deep Purple and the Doobie Brothers. Though Frehley is an integral component of the stage show, here his guitar is used sparingly, particularly on "Cold Gin," where a solo could've propelled the tune to a higher plateau. A firm commitment to their stage sound (as in "Deuce" and portions of "Black Diamond") could well insure excellence -- a course worth pursuing.

Review of "Hotter Than Hell" album
(RS #179, Jan. 1975, Ed Naha)
Looking like a bunch of Walt Disney rejects, Kiss is the kind of band you love to hate. Drenched in garish makeup, clothed in outfits Alice Cooper wouldn't touch, and generally exuding obnoxiousness, this brash young New York foursome seems determined to visually divert their audience's attention from their special brand of kamikaze rock. A slick brand of music that, as found on their second LP, Hotter Than Hell, does not sound as bad as the band looks. With twin guitars hammering out catchy mondo-distorto riffs and bass and drums amiably bringing up the rear, Kiss spews forth a deceptively controlled type of thunderous hysteria closely akin to the sound once popularized by the German panzer tank division.

Hotter Than Hell cooks from start to finish with the boys in the band sounding tighter and more lethal than in the past. This time around Kiss even manages to make allowances in their riff-rock antics for the inclusion of hum-able vocal lines in both the blitzkrieg rockers ("Got To Choose," "Strange Ways") and John Philip Sousa ballads ("Goin' Blind"). The lyrics, however, aren't going to make Dylan worry: with such bon mots as "I'm 93, you're 16" being dropped regularly.

Despite its flaws, Kiss does succeed in churning out quite a bit of high-energy instrumentation and cheerful, nonsensical vocalizing.

"KISS & Hello People: Whiteface Rock"
(RS #184, Apr. 1975, David Witz)
This article was a review of the Feb. 21, 1975 show at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom with the James Gang and Man: 'Twas the first semi-warm day of the year and the teens were leaning just a little too heavily into the plate glass window next to the Aragon. So when the cherry bomb went off by the curb; well, accidents will happen. It's only rock & roll. Inside, the seething representatives of Chicago's working class freakdom put up with Man, bounced and jounced with the James Gang and blew themselves away with Kiss.

Opening was Man, whose progressive approach worked, better for them when they fronted the Hawkwind tour last year. Deke Leonard and Micky Jones spent most of the time feeding guitar lines through various appliances. All very musically satisfying, but with zero flash. The applause stopped right when they did. Then came the James Gang, the epitome of a solid road band. Roy Kenner's tough-cracker vocals got right to the heart of the house as he exhorted the party minded to do just that. Running through numbers from various Gang incarnations, they did a powerful set which filled in any musical holes that Kiss might leave unclosed (and, believe me, they had canyons). They even pulled off a high volume "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," and by the time they played "Funk #49" the place was theirs. But a missing something (it might have been Joe Walsh, but with this audience it was probably a lack of smoke bombs) continued to keep the Gang from being headline material despite their hard-rocking approach.

Kiss couldn't miss. The last time they played here was as an emergency top-of-the-bill over former headliners T. Rex. Marc Bolan had done his all -- e1ectric star platform, plenty of strobes and a sexual attack on his guitar -- but Kiss had come out thermoblasting and that bad been that.

For their first official headlining, the p1ace was crammed. Word of mouth must have done the trick; it couldn't have been the records (it couldn't!). You know: "Hey, there's all this fire and he spits blood..." Well, the fire was there, enough of it to pop half the corn in Indiana. There were powder charges, smoke bombs, flamethrowers and other goodies, enough pseudo-napalm to justify the extinguishers tucked nervously around the apron. And Gene Simmons, the malevolent looking bassist with the sky-high steps, flash kabuki topknot ensemble and 17-inch tongue does indeed slobber something blood-ish when not belching flame. It's this kind of frolic which is the band's open secret. Kiss's show depends almost entirely on show, with the music (a combination of Blue Oyster Cult played slow, Black Sabbath played fast) acting as a bottom line for the effects.

On this winter eve, they had their automatons-from-hell riff down pat. When rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley and Simmons faced off, it was Star Trek glitter meeting kung fu dancing. Peter Criss's drum kit swathed in smoke during "Black Diamond," actually did rise into the air. From the black-and-chrome costumes to those blinding bombs, everything Kiss did was custom-tailored for neon-loving, volume-eating rockers. Of course, the crowd responded in kind. Audiences toss roses at Melanie, but tonight's bouquets consistconsisted of M-80s, ladyfingers, and just plain firecrackers. Ah, love.

Review of "Dressed To Kill" album
(RS #191, July 1975, Gordon Fletcher)
"Kiss does not play music -- it makes very high-volume noise. If rock & roll intrigues you, though, you'd best be advised that for all the simplicity, overstatement and repetition within its records, Kiss does make fantastically successful rock. Driven by Gene Simmons's remarkably inventive bass lines and the cacophonous poundings of drummer Peter Criss, Kiss makes Chuck Berry chords and basic rock progressions come alive with energetic urgency. Simple? Yes. Repetitive? Yessir! But like the Stooges Kiss manages to avoid monotony."

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