The Classic Rock Opinion: The New Kiss Album
With the band about to head into the studio to record their first album since 1998′s Psycho Circus, Geoff Barton speculates the pro’s and con’s of what we can expect from the brand new Kiss album. Click here for previous Classic Rock Opinions.
At their Download festival press conference last summer, Kiss – well, bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons, to be precise – poured cold water (cold gin, more like) on the prospect of Kiss ever recording a brand new album.
“The record industry is dead,” Simmons snarled. “It’s six feet underground and unfortunately the fans have done this.”
He continued: “They’ve decided to download and file-share. There is no record industry around so we’re going to wait until everybody settles down and becomes civilised. As soon as the record industry pops its head up we’ll record new material.”
Rhythm guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley defended Kiss’s policy of only playing their old hits live.
“With any classic band that hits the road, the last thing you want to hear is their new songs,” he said. “Trends come, fashion comes. But we don’t go away. We’re like herpes.”
So, what’s changed in a few short months? How come Kiss have performed an amazing about-face (not easy in those sky-high platform boots) and decided to record an all-new album after all?
You probably remember Stanley’s exclusive revelation to Classic Rock back in November ’08: “I thought that I’d be content for Kiss to remain a heritage act, just playing our greatest hits – Detroit Rock City and all that. But the new Kiss line-up with Tommy Thayer (guitar) and Eric Singer (drums) is proving to be so good, so strong in spirit, it would interesting to see how we perform in the studio.”
Stanley added: “I must stress that no recording time has been booked at this point. But if we were to go into the studio, the intention would be to make a Kiss album in the style of our 1970s recordings. A classic Kiss album, unmistakably.”
Well, hell. As we write this Kiss ARE in the studio making a new album, with a release date projected for autumn 2009.
All of which is extremely good news, obviously. But to be honest, we don’t quite believe the Starchild’s claim that the reason for recording a new Kiss album is purely down to the strength of the band’s current line-up.
Neither, it should be noted, has the record industry ‘popped its head up’ since last June. Indeed, as Simmons has doubtless noticed, it’s still cowering under a rock somewhere.
No sir. We suspect Kiss’s decision to enter the studio has got something to do with a couple of things that happened directly after their Download appearance – namely, the releases of Metallica’s Death Magnetic and AC/DC’s Black Ice albums.
Both were unashamedly retro offerings – as Kiss are promising their new album is going to be.
Encouraged by producer Rick Rubin, Metallica returned to their 1980s thrash-metal roots with Death Magnetic – and with frankly spectacular results.
AC/DC’s sole nod to modernity with Black Ice was to employ producer-of-the-moment Brendan O’Brien. (Just why O’Brien is so fêted is beyond this writer, but that’s another subject entirely.) Other than that, Black Ice was pretty much like any other AC/DC album. Just because it was released in 2008 doesn’t mean it couldn’t have gone on sale in 1998, 1988, 1978…
But you know what? Both Death Magnetic and Black Ice sold by the truckload. “Old is the new new,” you could say. The likelihood is that Simmons observed this significant fact, and anticipated those dollar signs glittering in front of his eyes once again if Kiss made the pure‘n’simple move of going back to basics.
So, what can we expect from Kiss’s new album, their first full-on studio project since 1998’s Psycho Circus? Well, Paul Stanley is producing, which we reckon is a good sign. The album is also being recorded in analog rather than digital, which arguably is an even better sign.
As Stanley recently affirmed: “It’s a Kiss album in the most true and classic sense — we’re recording it in analog, not digital, and writing it ourselves.”
So, yes, we’re expecting great things. We have but two qualms. First, Eric Singer might be a better drummer than original Kiss tub-thumper Peter Criss, but he ain’t as good a vocalist – as anyone who heard Singer on Black Diamond at Download will testify. So let’s hope Eric is content just to beat the skins on Kiss’s new record.
Second, Tommy Thayer may be a more technically proficient guitarist than Kiss’s original six-stringer Ace Frehley (notice a theme developing here?). But part of Kiss’s original charm was the Spaceman’s delightfully stumblesome playing, not to mention his endearingly heavy-handed riffs. Frehley’s barking-mad singing style shouldn’t be ignored, either. Can Thayer step up to the plate and match Ace’s past glories? We hope so. We have no reason to expect otherwise.
We’ll find out for sure sometime this autumn. But at this stage only one thing is totally certain: it’s gonna be a lo-o-o-o-o-ong wait…