Thursday, November 1, 2012

Classic Album Review: "Hotter Than Hell" by Kiss

As a younger man, I purchased and sold CDs like nobody's business. Every 6 to 8 months, I'd prune out albums and keep my collection in the neighborhood of 250. Several of the Kiss studio albums were among those pruned.

Now that I've switched to computer storage of the music instead of a 400 disc CD changer, I'm adding some of them back. The first one I put back was 1974's "Hotter Than Hell." This album is now 38 years old.

This record, like the first few by Kiss, was written and recorded in literally just days, but it doesn't feel like it. That is kind of an amazing feat considering that Gene Simmons even went into the well to pull out a Wicked Lester song.

This album was, in my opinion, a harbinger of what was to come from Kiss. Though their debut record is better, this album is more complete in my opinion. At least better in terms of classic songs.Whereas the eponymous was a rock tour de force from track one to track ten, Hotter Than Hell takes several twists and turns, and unlike it's predecessor, offers up some sadly forgotten deep cuts.

This album opens up with something the first album, and the following album lacked...a ballad, "Got To Choose." From there it moves on into more charted territory with the Ace penned "Parasite" which is still played to this day.

The next song though, "Goin' Blind," is where I see something that Kiss had never done. For lack of a better term, this is an esoteric ballad that dealt with some very strange themes and a recurring theme of Gene's that I'm not going to touch with a ten foot pole.

Sadly this, until the Unplugged, song was never played live and it wasn't released as a single. It was a mentioned in a great interview with Gene and Paul in the early 90's where they discussed the origins of many songs off of the first three records and who the band had developed its style.

After this there are some Kiss classics: The title track, "Let Me Go Rock'n'Roll," and "Watchin' You." The greatest tragedy of this album though is the final track: "Strange Ways." This song, again written by Ace, sung by Peter is quite possibly the best song Ace Frehley has ever written.

I can honestly not think of another song he was written that stands up to this one. Because it's the final track on the album even, for years it was lost even to me. It wasn't until I watched a live bootleg of Ace where his bass player, Karl Cochran, sang this song that I truly heard it for the first time. It was never played live by Kiss and it was forgotten.

All in all, though this album didn't produce as many well known Kiss songs as the eponymous debut, this is a more mature (I know right?) album by Kiss and a much better effort.

Year: 1974
Genre: Hard Rock
Run time: 33:07
Playlists: Arena Rock, Rock


1. Got To Choose
2. Paraiste
3. Goin' Blind
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Let Me Go Rock'n'Roll
6. All The Way
7. Watchin' You
8. Mainline
9. Comin' Home
10. Strange Ways

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