After Alive II, Kiss shocked the world by announcing that they would be releasing 4 solo albums at the same time. The band WAS NOT breaking up; rather, all four members wanted to express themselves in their own way–four Kiss albums on the same day! Holy cow. Unheard of! And as it turns out, this was probably the first step their money-making schemes. [I assume that Gene is behind all of the money-inhaling schemes, but I feel like he may not have been savvy enough to think of this one back then. Am I not giving him enough credit?]
So since you never bought four albums on the same day, that meant that you bought your favorite Kiss guy’s record first, right? Well, my favorite Kiss guy was Peter Criss. He was a cat after all. And as the charts reflect, I chose poorly.
Peter was the least rocking of the group (despite his great vocal turns in some really great Kiss rockers). Appropriately, his solo album is a mix of old school rock and roll, ballads and a brief excursion into disco. Because at the time I loved everything Kiss did, I didn’t discern that I hated these songs. In fact, I listened to them and I still know all of them quite well. But as an adult I can see what a crazy release this is from Kiss. True, Kiss’ other records flirted with old school rock n roll (“Tomorrow and Tonight”), and Peter had had a hit with “Beth.” But wow, who knew he would go this far? I mean, “Don’t You Let me Down” is a very delicate weepy ball and ”Kiss the Girl Goodbye” is a falsetto’d folk ballad. My heavens. And for pity’s sake, “You Matter to Me” out-discos even Kiss’ attempt at disco on Dynasty. (That keyboard, zoinks!).
My friend Matt and I have always liked a few of these songs more for personal in-jokes than for the songs themselves. “That’s the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes” is one (and actually of all the songs on the disc, this one has the best groove). And I’ve always like “Hooked on Rock n Roll’s” preposterous lyric “I was/vaccinated by a Victrola needle” because it not only is antiquated and weird, it doesn’t even fit the rhythm of the chorus (who tries to fit the word “vaccinated” into a two-syllable space?).
The funny thing is that the album is pretty solid rock n roll. “I’m Gonna Love You” is an old school rock n’ roll song. ”Tossin’ and Turnin’” is standard old rocker, complete with backing vocals and horns. It could come straight out of Grease.
But I can’t imagine anyone who likes this kind of music buying this album with the Kiss connection or with him in makeup on the cover. It may have introduced Kiss fans to doo wop, but I think mostly it just collects dust.
My mom liked this album best of all the Kiss albums, but I distinctly remember she did not like “I Can’t Stop the Rain” because despite the pretty melody (and strings) he said “Goddamn” in the song and she didn’t approve of that sort of thing. Kiss fans didn’t like this album, and moms didn’t like it either. Poor Peter.
[READ: October 8, 2011] “Free Everything”
There were four one-page pieces in this week’s New Yorker under the heading “Sticky Fingers.” Each one was about theft in some way (this being the money issue, that ‘s a nice connection).
Miranda July’s piece was all about herself. She talks about how she first started shoplifting when she was little. The first time she got caught was for slipping Neosporin in her sock. But then she got more clever.
She talks about how the shoplifting really became a part of her life. I’m fascinated that the majority of shoplifters seem to be women and I wonder why (she doesn’t address this issue). July talks about all the places from which she stole and she speaks of it passively, with little room for regret (even when she stole from the Salvation Army where she worked). [Let's hope the statute of limitations is up for her].
It’s funny to me that her compulsion to shoplift was assuaged as easily as it began–she got a boyfriend, and “grew up.” It’s a fascinating look at someone recklessly engaged in a life of crime.
I don’t know all that much by Miranda July, but I like her tone and her writing style and this was an entertaining essay.