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 KISS was 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 Peter Criss hard 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 City has 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 s
tayed 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 Beth and 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! Do You 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 of Kiss’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 Over album in November of 1976! Mr Speed indeed!
dEkE’s score of Destroyer-7.5