In saying that its impressive that the sound of this album still holds up today and that’s thanks to Bob Ezrin.
Even my beat up vinyl copy of “Destroyer” sounds good but this reissue has a little more oomph packed in the grooves of the albums 10 tracks.
Ok, I’m getting a little ahead here..
KISS or some suit at the record company did a nice job putting together this package on double vinyl as well its a gatefold (see pic below) along with a booklet.
A lot of has been written about this album over the years on how there were “Ghost Guitarists” come and lay down licks since Ace Frehley would no show and what not.
Give these guys credit as here they are in ’76 coming off the huge Alive! record and tour and were generating a ton of coin and kudos to them to put that coin into this album as the sonics are huge.
No sense doing a full track by track breakdown as there are over 2 billion reviews of this album but I will add I really like Stanley’s demo of “God of Thunder” as it’s got some serious zip to it.
Once Ezrin heard Paul’s demo, Bob said Gene would sing it. Oh man it would have been a hoot to have been a fly on the wall at the studio that day! Course they slowed down the tempo and what not but its’ pretty cool to hear something like this all these years ago in it’s original state.
The second record is that. Some Paul demo’s and some Gene demo’s as well as some rarities.
Overall a really cool put together package on vinyl.
What would fall under the Holy Crap File would be the fact that today marks the 43rd Birthday of the release of ‘Destroyer’. What’s more amazing is the fact that I had no idea of the month/day when I finished this review a few weeks back…
So if you recall from my earlier reviews KISSwas a broke ass recording and touring act as the first three albums didn’t really make to much of a dent in sales.
1975 and KISS ALIVE changed all that of course so come 1976 KISS now having enough dough to record/party and toss around like Champions and decide to hire producer Bob Ezrin to make a real good sounding KISS album for all intent purposes still holds up well today!
Maybe Bombastic is the word that best describes Destroyer!
Destroyer I always dug! Good songs Good playing/ Good production. Course with success comes sometimes problems and those problems I suppose involved Ace Frehley who didn’t play all the guitar on the album and from what I read Ezrin pushed PeterCrisshard on the drums to the point it drove the Cat Man bonkers.
Ezrin like he does with some of his production jobs also helps in the song department as within the 9 songs on the album Bob cowrote 7 of the 9 tracks with KISS.
I suppose you could say Bob waved a big stick in the studio and didn’t just set in the producers chair!
Destroyer to me has KISS monkeying around with the idea of concept album(with Destroyer) and coming from Ezrin that doesn’t surprise as he has produced more than a few albums that way!
The opening number Detroit Rock Cityhas the KISS fan entering his car and you can hear the newscaster’s (done by Gene) voice on the radio that goes like this..
In Detroit, the body of a Michigan youth was reported dead at the scene of a head on collision on Grand Avenue this morning. He was reportedly driving on the wrong side of the boulevard when he struck a delivery truck and was catapulted through the windshield of his car. The driver of the truck is reported to be uninjured. The identities of both men are being withheld by local police
[Over car radio, sung quietly: ‘Rock n Roll All Night And Party Everyday’ is played on the radio…)
Kinda cool that KISS would go outside the box with this album right off the hop. Course when you hear the car accelerate here comes Paul/Ace’s guitar locking up and then the drums ….Bam were off and into Detroit Rock City. I love this song. It gets straight to the point as the fan gets into his car and it’s basically his last drive as Paul sings “I gotta laugh as I know I’m going to die why?” Course dude, when you drink and smoke and take the wheel you’re looking for trouble!
The song is a classic and Peter’s drums sound huge on this album.
King of the Night Time World slams right out of the gate with a great mashup of guitars/drums and bass and they are off! King of the Night Time World has Stanley telling the tale of the seedier side of life after 12 am! Ace as he always does rip down a slick solo with a lot of stumble and swagger. Gotta love KISS man. First song deals with a Fan dying and now were off to Party Ville with Starchild/Demon/Catman and SpaceMan!
Mean Gene finally gets his due as when you think of God of Thunder you think of the Demon. Well as many of you know even though Gene has always sung God of Thunder and everyone knows he sang it but it was Paul Stanley who wrote God of Thunder! I love the stomp of the Drums and the sinister sounding Bass thump that makes this song almost sound Black Sabbath like. Gene sings like he’s possessed out of his noggin and by golly it works. Gotta mention Ace who lays down yet a brilliant solo…does that surprise any of you!
So what do you do after the Hell hath No Fury of God of Thunder? Yup you slam on the brakes and Simmons goes from the depths of Hell to show that even though he pukes blood and spits fire and looks like a mess in the live show Mean Gene does have a sensitive side to him and that in the form of Great Expectations! Lots of folks are on the fence with this tune, I kinda dig it as it’s a tune that is what you wouldn’t expect from the Kabuki one himself! A little light sure. Perhaps at the time of recording an eye on it becoming a single? Who knows for sure but I like the chorus and such but getting a kids choir I thought was kinda goofy but I get it as KISS wanted people to take em serious at the time!
Side 2 begins with….
Flaming Youth! What a cool KISS track. So here’s where KISS had a trouble and it was with this track. Ace no shows and Gene/Paul and Bob in not wanting to wait around got Dick Wagner to play an Ace like lead in which he did. Ace was pissed but the solo stayed as Wagners is what you now all here. This is a great track. Flaming Youth our Flag is flying higher and higher and higher whatever Stanley was going on about…
Well Mr Wagner appears on Mean Gene’s very underrated track Sweet Pain and tosses down another cool guitar solo. Sweet Pain for me takes off with the real catchy verses. The chorus is kinda so so but man the verses has Mean Gene hitting one out of the ball park!
Shout It Out Loud! The big party rock anthem track from Destroyer! Always dug the Gene and Paul vocal trade-off during the verses and look’s who back knocking out another brilliant solo? The Spaceman comes back and Frehley soars all over the fretboard with yet another memorable solo! You got to have a Parteeeeeee!
So the story goes when Destroyer came out. Sales took off than stalled. Some radio station plays Bethand from their sales are reignited and Destroyer starts selling like hotcakes thanks to the Peter Criss driven ballad! Beth must have driven Gene and Paul nuts. Here’s the Drummer who gets one writing credit on the album and basically saves Destroyer from hitting the cheapo bins. As a KISS fan or even a casual music fan we all know Beth which would once again drive the two leaders (Gene and Paul) crazy even more! Dick Wagner plays acoustic guitar on Beth as well…
Now you cannot end an album called Destroyer on a ballad no siree but you have to eventually wrap up the party and call it a night! DoYou Love Me fits that bill as Criss sets the tempo with his drums and Stanley spouting off about ‘Limousines-7 inch Leather Heels’ and yada yada but for an end of album closer Do You Love Me is pretty good. I like the tune at the half way point when KISS changes up the tempo when Paul sings the line of….
‘Your backstage pass and black sunglasses
Make you look just like a queen
Even the fans, they know your face
From all of the magazines, but’
Yeah, a pretty decent send off tune…
Some copies of Destroyer have the end of the album version of Rock N Roll Party. In James Campion‘s book, “Shout it Out Loud: The Story ofKiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon.” The album was barely over 31 minutes in length, so that’s why Bob Ezrin and the engineers, Jay Messina and Corky Stasiak, added the news report at the beginning of the album, and this at the end. It was originally called Rock N Roll Demon…RNRP is a minute and a half of a demonic sounding fade out, kinda creepy…
Destroyer is an interesting spin in the year 2019! When I first heard Destroyer back in the late 70’s for the first time I didn’t know these guys had internal problems. But they sure did and the more success these guys got more issues arose as in the case of this album.
For one you have Peter Criss who has one writing credit and its a ballad of all things!
Also, Ace has one writing credit as well. Flaming Youth he helped co write with Simmons/Stanley/Ezrin Ace doesn’t even do the guitar solo on the song!
It’s still amazing to me that KISS released Destroyer in March of 76 yet 8 months later KISS released the very brilliant Rock N Roll Overalbum in November of 1976! Mr Speed indeed!
Picked up this book in Vancouver at the Indigo Book Store and I was surprised to see this as I didn’t even know it existed!(released in 2015) Amazing that author James Campion could write in a detailed amount 330 pages of one album being a Kiss album to boot and to keep me interested!
Just like another great book that I recently read and reviewed which was Greg Renoffs Van Halen Rising book chronicling only VH’s early years up to 1978 which you can check out here….https://superdekes.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/rock-101van-halen-rising-by-greg-renoff/ Shows me that you can write a book detailing a band and even though that bands main guys may not be involved in the book you do your homework and seek out those around that had a hand in the beginnings of a band(Renoffs Book) or the Destroyer book that chronicles the making of what many consider the best recorded Kiss album(Destroyer)
Campion in his book details the Destroyer album from the origins pre Destroyer when Kiss was selling out theatre’s (pre Kiss Alive) but hardly selling any albums. Kiss and their 3 studio albums before Alive(self titled,Hotter Than Hell and Dressed To Kill) failed to make any kind of dent on the charts. Kiss and Neil Bogart(Boss man at KISS’s label Casablanca Records ) decided to release the double live Alive as Casablanca Records was in huge financial dire itself.
Of course Alive saves the day. Kiss hits huge pay dirt and wants to make a serious album. So the search begins!
Campion quotes resources and past interviews but the Ace(no pun) In The Hole here is he did direct interviews with Jay Messina,Corky Stasiak and Bob Ezrin. Those three are responsible for the Production end of things on Destroyer as they give excellent inside to the recording of the album from the beginning of the sessions to the end note of Do You Love Me.
I always knew that Frehley didn’t show up for Sweet Pain but how about 4 (maybe 5 tracks as they all have a hard time remembering if Wagner played on Flaming Youth)tracks that are on Destroyer that supposedly Ace didn’t play on!?
Which ones you ask? Other than Sweet Pain. How about Great Expectations? Mmmm Beth ?! The biggest shocker though is God Of Thunder? WHUT?!….No Ace….by the sounds of it!
Ezrin brought in Dick Wagner(RIP)! Who’s Dick you ask? Well other than playing a ton of lead guitar for Alice Cooper Wagner supposed did a ton of uncredited lead guitar work on Aerosmith’s Get Your Wings album. Another Ezrin produced album. If you weren’t cutting the mustard in the studio Bob would call Dick!
What might even be more shocking is that Peter Criss played drums on the whole album! Criss does add that Ezrin tortured him take after take to up Pete’s game!
Beth like all the songs on Destroyer are detailed in the book with very in-depth info from Ezrin and Crew. What kind of guitars were used. What kind of Amps. The book even mentions that Ezrin had to toss Gene and Paul out of the studio so Criss could get his lead vocal done on Beth as Demon And Starchild were smirking and making fun of Criss!
Back to the God Of Thunder mystery. Did Ace or didn’t Ace play on the track. Campion when writing the book sat down with Ezrin and they listened to the solo in God Of Thunder! Ezrin couldn’t exactly remember if Ace had played it or didn’t but Ezrin added that if Dick Wagner says he did,than as Ezrin adds Wagner did!
Of course no one back than knew this and good on everyone involved on keeping a lid on it! Course Simmons probably had a lawyer drop in a few times to make sure everyone knew their place in regards as keeping Kiss as how we know them. Imagine back than if everyone knew Ace didn’t play on certain Destroyer tracks…..
Ken Kelly who did the awesome painting of Kiss on the cover is even interviewed! No stone is left unturned here folks!
Campion as well updates on currently what ever one involved with the making of Destroyer is currently up to.
Also what was real interesting is towards the end of the book Campion puts in his detective hat and if you recall on the Destroyer studio version of Detroit Rock City of the dude getting into his car and hearing on the radio that a person was killed and of course by the end of the song the car skids out and you hear the car crash.
Interviews at the time (1976) had Stanley saying that a Kiss fan had died on their way to a show. So Campion started digging around through various archived media to see if Stanley’s claim actually happened or didn’t! Give this dude credit man he did his homework and well I’m not telling you what the outcome was! Was it a true story or was Stanley hyping the KISS P.R Hype Machine Circa 76!
Hey! I can’t tell everyone everything.
Ok here’s a little food for thought!
Well how about I leave you with one more little detail! When Destroyer was first released it shot up the charts and shot down the charts real quick! Kiss freaked out. They were wondering did they over do it with too much bombastic flair that went over their fans heads? At one point there was talk of the whole album after its release being Destroyed and yanked off the market!
Beth being out as a 45 single believe it or not saved this albums ass! You can also see why Kiss returned to producer Eddie Kramer and released the fantastic yet straight forward Rock N Roll Over! Don’t know how true all of this is but you know how some of those Kiss guys roll. I tend to believe it that at one point Destroyer could have been Destroyed! (Imagine how much those copies would be going for in 2016!)
If you come across this book pick it up or track it down on the Amazons of the world. Well researched and it was cool to read a whole book on just one album!