by Terri Bey
Do you remember the very first album you ever bought with your own money? Do you remember the album that turned you into a fan of that band? Well, the album “Destroyer” by KISS that I bought with my own money which turned me into a KISS fan for life was released on this day, March 15, 1976, 45 years ago. Let me tell you how it happened. When I was in grade school. During recess, a classmate had brought in a spooky looking album with what looked like to me, four grossly painted guys in ugly makeup and ghoulish costumes. The large letters on the record cover in red said, “KISS” and in tiny letters was the word, “Destroyer.” I was so grossed out as a 9 year old. I was wondering if the music was any good. Remember, I was a 9 year old.
When the record started to play the first song, “Detroit, Rock City,” my ears pricked up. I thought the music was pretty good. Only the first side of the album was played, as when my then classmate was trying to turn the record over, some girl took it from him and the record fell and broke. Regardless, I was hooked. This band’s music was terrific, despite the ghoulish looks.
A couple of weeks later, I went with some older friends to Sam Goody’s in Woodbridge Center in Woodbridge, New Jersey and bought “Destroyer.” Yes, readers, I am aging myself. When I brought it home, my mother was not happy and initially refused to let me keep the record. However, she relented and I played the record to death. The one song that annoyed my mother was the repetitive, “Do You Love Me,” so I had to avoid playing it. As I looked at the album cover and figured out whom was who, the one member that attracted me was the one who looked like a space figure. It was original guitarist Ace Frehley, the Spaceman. He became my favorite member of the band, and still is, even though I love every one who has been and is currently in the band. I eventually got other KISS albums, but it was “Destroyer” which made me a KISS ARMY member for life.
In this blog, I will be giving my personal opinion of each song and discuss how I have felt about the song over the years. I am not going to go over any of the origins of the song or do any serious analysis. This will be a fun blog where I will be discussing an album that means a great deal to me on it’s 45th Anniversary of its release. I hope you enjoy this blog. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged.
MY ANALYSIS OF “DESTROYER” by KISS
- Album Title: “Destroyer”
- Producer: Bob Ezrin
- Band: KISS
- Personnel: Paul Stanley (Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar), Gene Simmons (Bass, Lead Vocals), Ace Frehley (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Peter Criss (Drums, Lead Vocal), Dick Wagner (guitar solo on “Sweet Pain and “Flaming Youth,” and the Harlem Boys Choir
“Detroit, Rock City” (Paul Stanley, Bob Ezrin)
Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley
This is one of my all-time favorite KISS songs. I love the beginning, where Gene Simmons is reading the report of a youth getting killed by getting into a head-on collision with a Mack Truck. The song’s subject is about a young man who on the way to said show and runs into a Mack Truck. I love the storytelling in this song. The lyrics, “Twelve O’Clock, I gotta rock.” “There’s a truck ahead, lights staring at my eyes.” tell a vivid story of the kid who about to die. I love the car crash at the end, as well. Out of the car crash, you can hear a distorted guitar sound, which leads into the next song.
“King of the Night Time World” (Stanley, Kim Fowley, Mark Anthony, Ezrin)
Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley
I liked this song quite a bit when I first heard it. I have since learned that “King of the Night Time World,” was originally done by Kim Fowley and The Hollywood Stars. Regardless, over the years, this song has become one of my favorite KISS tunes. Actually, it has become my favorite song on this album. The song is a fun party song. I wish this song would be put back in the current setlist. I will talk about that later.
“God of Thunder” (Stanley)
Lead Vocal: Gene Simmons
Yes. Paul Stanley wrote this song. This is the definitive song about the Demon Character that Gene Simmons has played on that KISS stage for nearly 50 years. The lines “command you to kneel” and “darkness to please me” are so awesome and are indicative of how great a songwriter Paul Stanley is. “I am the lord of the wastelands.” Yep. That is the Demon.
“Great Expectations” (Gene Simmons, Ezrin)
Ludwig Van Beethoven is my favorite classical composer and my all-time favorite musician. What does that have to do with this album or song? Well, if you listen closely, the melody from “Great Expectations” is from Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata, Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13. I could see Simmons and Ezrin getting credit for the lyrics, but Herr Beethoven should have gotten a mention. After all, it is his piece, that the song’s melody is based upon. The song is obviously about Gene flirting with some wide-eye fan and how the fan is wishing she could be with him, etc. The addition of the Harlem Boys Choir is a great touch.
I used to really love this song, because of the Beethoven connection. Over the years, I don’t think the song holds up, because of the lyrics. I mean, they are the typical “I want to screw the girl in the audience” type of lyrics.
“Flaming Youth” (Ace Frehley, Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin)
Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley
This song was just alright, in my opinion. I was never in love with it. I had to be in the right mood to listen to it and it was just “filler” to me. This song and the following song, “Sweet Pain” featured Dick Wagner on lead guitar, as Ace Frehley did not show up for sessions. This was one of those anthem-like songs that Ezrin wanted the band to write, so the band would “expand their horizons.”
“Sweet Pain” (Simmons)
This is another “screw me” song from Simmons with different kind of lyrics. I have always found this song annoying, so I am not exactly in love with it. This song and “Flaming Youth” can be thrown out the window, as far as I am concerned. This song and “Flaming Youth” don’t hold up at all. Dick Wagner plays lead here, too.
“Shout It Out Loud” (Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin)
Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons
This anthem and concert staple is a pretty cool tune. I like this song quite a bit, even though at this point in my life, I really could do without hearing it. One idea for the album was to have more anthems, and this song certainly is. Personally, as the saying goes, I am just “over” this song.
“Beth” (Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Ezrin)
Lead Vocal: Peter Criss
Here is the song that became a hit for the band. The song was a “B” side to “Detroit, Rock City” and DJs started playing “Beth.” I liked the song right away, when I first heard it. Peter Criss, who also has a great rock voice, had the perfect voice for this song. The song had become a concert staple, when Peter was in the band, and is still a concert staple with Eric Singer in the band. The late Eric Carr recorded a version which appears on “Smashes, Thrashes and Hits” (1988), as well.
“Do You Love Me” (Stanley, Fowley, Ezrin)
Lead Vocals: Paul Stanley
This song is just OK. The song is about another interaction with a fan. However, this time, Paul asks said fan if the fan “really loves” him for him or for his fame and money, etc. The song is so repetitive and I don’t think it is particularly special. If I am in the right mood for it, I will listen to it and enjoy it. I would drop this song from the setlist and put “King of the Night Time World” in its place. I realize the band loves to play songs from “Destroyer,” and I respect that, but I think “King of the Night Time World” would be a great replacement for this song. I just think “Do You Love Me” is tedious.
“Rock and Roll Party” (Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin)
This is just some sort of instrumental. Nothing to comment on.
Forty-five years after “Destroyer’s release, does the album hold up? I would say a resounding “YES.” Even though there are a couple of songs I am not crazy about, like “Sweet Pain” and “Flaming Youth,” overall, the album sonically and musically is just a fresh and just as good as it was, when it was first released. The first three songs that kick off the album are classics. Paul Stanley’s song writing shines particularly on those three songs, as well as the anthem, “Shout It Out Loud.” The diversity of the album, using various styles of music, such as classical, heavy metal, etc., is another great quality. I highly recommend this album as a rock fan and not just a KISS fan. “Destroyer” is an overall album that should be in every music fan’s collection.
That is my blog about the album that not only made me a KISS fan, but changed my life. If I hadn’t become a KISS fan, I wouldn’t have met many of the great friends I have now. I have had the pleasure of traveling to see the band and meeting ever member who has been in the band, with the exception of Vinnie Vincent and sadly, the late Eric Carr. I am very fortunate and blessed to have done so, thanks to this great album.
Happy 45th Anniversary to the KISS album, “Destroyer.”