KISS 1976-1977 (Spotify playlist)

My 12-year-old-self was right about at least this much of KISS. In 1976, I was listening only to the Beatles. By 1978, I was listening to Sex Pistols and DEVO. 

In 1976-1977, the turgid early KISS was becoming skilled and snappy enough to occupy the elaborate glam space they always aspired to. At the same time, the attempt to produce them into a crisp, pop, AM-radio-friendly sound was dovetailing with the trebly sound of punk/new wave. 

“Love Gun’s” sonics are closer to “Marquee Moon” than an ELO or Fleetwood Mac record, or the Ted Nugent and Nazareth albums of the day. It sounds like it was recorded ingeniously on a four-track in a garage, the drums especially bad and excellent.

It’s accidental punk – cock-rock Ramones, who are pulling it off. Pretend this was the only music they ever made - a lost band from the Max's Kansas City scene. Or, embrace the fact that KISS had become a major label success, and think of this material as their "Some Girls" moment – a lucky convergence of ironic manly camp, crunchy songs, and the zeitgeist. 

The songwriters are hitting their stride, while still trapped within the distinctive fingerprints of their creative limitations. The band can't jam, and they want hits, so they cram a lot of ingredients into their 3-3.5 minute tunes.

A minute later, KISS would become entirely fake, but for a hot second, they checked in as a fully-realized concept.

Spotify Playlist Here