Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Kiss

  • Dressed to Kill [Casablanca, 1975] B
  • Alive [Casablanca, 1975] B-
  • Destroyer [Casablanca, 1976] C+
  • Rock and Roll Over [Casablanca, 1977] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Dressed to Kill [Casablanca, 1975]
I feel schizy about this record. It rocks with a brutal, uncompromising force that's very impressive--sort of a slicked-down, tightened-up, heavied-out MC5--and the songwriting is much improved from albums one and two. But the lyrics recall the liberal fantasy of rock concert as Nuremberg rally, equating sex with victimization in a display of male supremacism that glints with humor only at its cruelest--song titles like "Room Service" and "Ladies in Waiting." In this context, the band's refusal to bare the faces that lie beneath the clown makeup becomes ominous, which may be just what they intend, though for the worst of reasons. You know damn well that if they didn't have both eyes on maximum commerciality they'd call themselves Blow Job. B

Alive [Casablanca, 1975]
There are those who regard this concert double as a de facto best-of that rescues such unacknowledged hard rock classics as "Deuce" and "Strutter" from the sludge. There are also those who regard it as the sludge. I fall into neither category--regret the drum solo, applaud "Rock and Roll All Nite," and absorb the thunderousness of it all with bemused curiosity. The multimillion kids who are buying it don't fall into either category either. B-

Destroyer [Casablanca, 1976]
Like most hard (not heavy) groups wildly favored by young teens (cf. Alice Cooper, BTO), these guys have always rocked better than adults were willing to enjoy, but pro producer Bob Ezrin adds only bombast and melodrama. Their least interesting record. C+

Rock and Roll Over [Casablanca, 1977]
Those who dismiss them as unlistenable are still evading the issue: they write tough, catchy songs, and if they had a sly, Jagger-style singer they'd be a menace. But they aren't a menace, my wife and my sister assure me; the kids get off on the burlesque. Does this mean that when the cartoon hero in the platform shoes bellows an order to grab the rocket in his pocket all the twelve-year-olds are aware that this is a caricature of sex, and macho sex at that? Really, I'd like to know. But I'm not getting down on my knees to find out. B-

Further Notes:

Meltdown [1980s]

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]