In 1976, I was the same age that Max is now. I spent a lot of time that year in my room with giant Koss headphones on my head listening to one album after another. On the turntable was “Frampton Comes Alive”, Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life”, “Silk Degrees” from Boz Scaggs, The Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle”, “Changes One” from Bowie and of course “Hotel California”. “Play that Funky Music White Boy”, “Shake Your Booty”, “Muscrat Love” and “You Should be Dancing” were in full rotation on the NY Pop stations 99X FM and WABC AM , and the Stones, Dylan, Zeppelin, The Sex Pistols and the Ramones all were turning out new music you’d find on FM AOR stations WPLJ and WNEW FM.
It was the 70’s and the music scene was all over the place. So at this crazy time it made perfect sense for a costume clad, Kabuki make-up wearing, 4 piece rock band in platform heel boots to release two albums “Destroyer” and “Rock and Roll Over” in the same year. I can remember, shaggy haired students walking the halls of my Junior High School wearing dungaree jackets (that’s what we called Middle School & jeans jackets back then) with KISS Album cover art painted on the back. I’d study and admire the portrayal of these bigger than life, satanic cartoon super hero characters on my way to class each day.
The vivid imagery of Starchild, Catman, Demon and Space Ace about to descend on to the stage will always be emblazoned in my head.
I didn’t own a KISS album at that time, but knew the band’s hits. “Detroit Rock City”, “Shout it Out Loud” and “Beth” were the favorites and for me are still the best songs on Destroyer. Listening to the album today it’s clear that the members of KISS were trying to branch out and be more conceptual in their song presentation. I can appreciate the effort, but I just think that most of the music and lyrics don’t measure up to album’s 3 big songs. The song writing becomes a little repetitive and predictable as the band seems to be a little stuck in their new found fame and self proclaimed prowess with women as can be heard in “Great Expectations” and “Do you Love Me”.
For me KISS is meant to be experienced.The imagery is as important as the sound. Seeing them live, as we did a few years ago, makes the music work on a whole different level. When the pyrotechnics, flying drums, blood spitting antics and stage lighting effects kick in, you know why Kiss is such a great performance band. One could argue that their innovations elevated the rock show to the next level.
Overall, I think if you are KISS fan, Destroyer delivers the high energy metal you are looking for. But if your not a big heavy rock fan, you can still walk away with 2 great rock anthems and a very memorable ballad.
I agree a lot with my dad on this one, but thought our readers may be interested in the opinions of an expert on the band. So I reached out to our good friend who believes in the mantra “You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!” and asked him some questions about the hottest band in Rock and Roll…
Q: For the record, please state your Name, Rank and years in the KISS Army?
Glenn Arshansky / private in the KISS army for over 20 years
Q: Why such a big KISS fan?
My first experience was playing ball with my friends and heard KISS Alive and fell in love with that album immediately.
Q: How many pieces of KISS merch do you own?
Currently have 20-30 pieces of memorabilia. From comic books to signed pictures.
Q: How many times have you seen the band live?
I have seen KISS live at least 20 times in the past 40 years. With makeup and without.
Q: Do you believe Destroyer is KISS’ best album? Best Tracks?
Destroyer is by far the best studio album from KISS. This was the bands first album after the release of KISS Alive which is what catapulted them to stardom. Classic hits from this particular album are “Detroit Rock City” (the Bands’ signature opening concert song), “God of Thunder” (the dark track Gene spits blood too), “Beth” (the classic KISS ballad) and “Shout it out loud”.
Q: What are your overall thoughts about the album?
Destroyer has so many great hits. 8 of the 10 tracks are continuously in their concert set lists.
Q: Do real KISS fans like the song Beth?
The women KISS fans love Beth. The guys not so much, but this is KISS’ signature power ballad.
Q: Who is your favorite member of the band?
Space Ace Frehley is my favorite KISS member. Great guitar player.
Destroyer is # 489 on Rolling Stone Magazine Greatest Albums of All Time
You watch me beatin’ my drum
And you know what my hands can do
And you wish you were the one I was doing it to
You’ve got great expectations