Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kiss In the 80s

Back in the '80s, I had a close friend who was a major fan of the group Kiss, a '70s era group that was having a second life in the era of '80s glam metal. Although I was never quite into Kiss as was my friend, it was an additional interest alongside my overall love of music as a teen.

In the '70s, Kiss was popular as a glam rock band known for its hard rock and over the top showmanship. Their trademark was wearing makeup which obscured their actual identities entirely, and instead substituted comic book style characters: Star Child (Paul Stanley), the Demon (Gene Simmons), Space Ace (Ace Frehley), and Catman (Peter Criss). 

I was a pre-teen and not so much into music at the time, but it was hard to miss Kiss, as their presence was everywhere around 1977-78. I remember that Majik Market featured a line of Kiss memorabilia cups. I was still not too familiar with music from the group, since music in general really wasn't my thing, and this group of makeup-wearing showmen remained kind-of a mystery to me. 

By the early '80s, two of the original Kiss members (Criss and Frehley) were replaced with new members (at various times, Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, and Bruce Kulick), but Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley remained (and would remain) as the groups mainstays. During the early '80s, as musical tastes changed, Kiss tried their effort at a concept album, Music from "The Elder," (1981). The song "A World Without Heroes" was from this album, and as you can see, Kiss was still in their trademark makeup.

I was still not very familiar with Kiss at this time, as I was just beginning my teen years and just starting my love affair with music, especially rock music of all sorts.

In 1983, Kiss broke its '70s era taboo, and removed their makeup. During this time, I was beginning to truly delve into music, and was interested in the news that Kiss- that Kiss, the one with the makeup, was now appearing without their makeup. Their first album in this new, makeup-less incarnation was Lick It Up (1983), an album I remember appearing in record store shelves and attracting a certain curiosity from me since I remembered the group's prior makeup and glam period.  I did not buy the album, though . . . I didn't have all that much money and there was just so much cool music out there to buy. And, after all, Kiss really had not been my thing before that.

My exposure to '80s-era Kiss music happened a little later, when their song "Heaven's On Fire" (from 1984's Animalize album) appeared on the radio. I listened with rapt attention when it was announced as a new release. . . this was Kiss, and they were back again and taking their place amidst the new surge of '80s glam metal.  

Here's another serving of '80s era Kiss, "Tears Are Falling" from 1985's Asylum album. ''

My interest in '80s-era Kiss culminated around 1987, when my Kiss obsessive friend went to see a Kiss concert in a nearby city. My parents disapproved, but I wanted to go anyway, so I snuck out and went to the concert anyway with my friend and several others. I remember they played not only their '80s era songs, but also did an intense and audience arousing rendition of their 1976 rocker "Detroit Rock City." My effort at teen rebellion concluded when I got home and had to face my parents' displeasure and punishment. 

In later years, Kiss would again don their makeup, and would essentially take up a role of rock elder statesmen of a sort. . . reminders of an era when rock ruled the airwaves and the hearts and minds of the young. But, I will always remember that distinctive era when Kiss adopted the the makeup-less role of a member of '80s glam metal elite. And I still don't regret going to that concert!!