Wednesday, February 09, 2011

28. KISS - Destroyer (1976)

45 years, 45 LPs, 45 days...
The history of KISS (or Kisstory, as they like to call it) is larger than life, much like the band itself. These days I am almost hesitant to listen to or read the band's own recollections (especially Gene & Paul), since the passage of time has a way of creating and glorifying myth. These days KISS relies upon their own mythology in order to sell their massive brand; I suppose I can't blame them, since it's good business sense. As a fan I have mixed feelings about KISS the money making machine, but nothing but fondness for the KISS I remember from my youth.

I was ten years old when Destroyer was released, which placed me squarely in the comic book demographic that was the band's
KISS wants YOU!
target market at the time.  In '76 most of my weekly allowance was spent on music magazines, slurpees, and 45's, but not so much on 12" records. My friends John & Nicky were KISS fanatics, so I heard the KISS catalog often while hanging out after school at their houses. Destroyer, Double Platinum (1978) and the four KISS solo albums are ones I particularly remember. 1979's Dynasty was the first KISS album I personally owned, after which I bought most new KISS records upon their release. By the time of 1980's Unmasked, the original KISS fan base had begun to shrink, which is unfortunate since this was when KISS was releasing some of its most interesting work.

Spirit of 76: Wish I still had this poster!
My first KISS concert was February 18, 1983 at the Met Center in Bloomington, MN. The band was touring in support of Creatures of the Night (1982), notable for being the last KISS release before they removed their make-up. It was also their first tour without Ace Frehley.  Many fans, including myself, were unaware of Ace's departure when tickets went on sale (his face was on the album cover, even though he didn't play on the record). I remember skipping science class to take the bus downtown in order to get in line for tix, and being shocked that there weren't dozens of people lined-up when I arrived.  The show was far from a sellout.
"I Love It Loud" single, 1982
In addition to being a more sparsely attended concert than I was expecting, this KISS was different from what I was expecting.  I say "different" because it was still a damn good show, but Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent shaped a harder, more metal KISS sound on stage than Ace & Peter Criss had.  Seeing KISS live for the first time was amazing.  It was the last time I would see them in concert until the 1996 reunion tour (hence I never saw KISS play without their iconic makeup).

Gene, Vinnie, and Paul at the Met Center, 2/18/83
Bonus!: In researching my first KISS concert from '83 I found a whole set of photos from that very show posted by a fellow fan.  I was at this show, on the floor, center stage.  Thank you Michael Brandvold for posting these awesome pics!!

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