Album Originally Released: February 8, 1974. (Casablanca/Warner
Bros. NB-9001 / US, 2/74 w/o "Kissin' Time") This is the more sought after
version by collector's. According to Black Diamond, "Kiss" was released
on Feb. 18th, 1974 on the East Coast and Feb. 25th on the West Coast,
USA. (Black Diamond, p. 49) However, I think the 18th was a typo.
Producer(s): Kenny Kerner & Richie Wise
KISS was the first and only album distributed via Warner Bros.
Attained RIAA Gold Certification 6/8/77.
KISS only reached # 87 on Billboard's charts and dropped off very quickly.
pressings of "Kiss" do not include "Kissin' Time". The album was reissued in July 1974 to include "Kissin' Time".
"Kissin' Time" (Mann/Lowe) is a cover of a Bobby Rydell
hit. Rumor was that a famous DJ from Nashville suggested that Kiss revise
and record the Bobby Womack song "Twisin' Time" to "Kissin' Time" to help
promote a kissing contest to promote both the band and WSHE, a rock radio
station. While it is true that the song was used for a contest on the
radio station, the song was never originally titled "Twistin' Time." The
lyrics were altered from the original song as the band and their management
felt some of them didn't quite fit the band's image. Upon it's release
the song didn't reach anywhere near the success of the original song hitting
only #83. The song fared somewhat better on the Cashbox charts, reaching
#79 on June 22 after five weeks on the charts.
"Love Theme from Kiss" had been performed in concert by the band in an
extended version titled "Acrobat" before the recording of "Kiss". This
song was played by the band as late as June 1974. (In 2006, a DVD box
set was released with a live version of "Acrobat" from 2/17/74)
Before the release of the album, Eugene Klein (Gene Simmons) was working
as a school teacher; Paul Frehley (Ace Frehley) was driving a taxicab;
George Criscuola (Peter Criss) was in several bands including Lips and
Chelsea; and Stanley Paul Eisen (Paul Stanley) was a struggling art student
playing in various bands at night hoping to get discovered. Stanley and
Eugene would form a group called Wicked Lester with a mutual friend
named Steven Coronel in 1970 after Coronel introduced the two. As Wicked
Lester, they even recorded an album's worth of demos for Epic Records
in 1971-72 that never got released. Some of these songs would show up
on later KISS albums. Peter was enlisted around April 1972 and Ace followed
in January 1973 to become the hottest band in the world . . . KISS!
The KISS epiphany happened the night we went to Madison Square Garden (in 1973) to see Alice Cooper play. Alice and his band came on, and Ace and Paul ran all the way up to the front of the stage like groupies. Gene and I sat in our chairs in the back, but we were all equally impressed by Alice. It was amazing theater. Alice was in full makeup, and the kids in the audience were freaking out over this guy who came out with a huge snake and got hung on stage. The four of us got together after the concert, and it all started coming to us. We wanted the Beatles' wite, the same type of fun paired with a high level of creativity, too. But we wanted to be tougher than the Beatles–more like the Stones, but not quite the Stones. We had been battling to be more gang-ish in a way, a tougher, almost biker don't-fuck-with-us attitude. After the concert, I forget who said it, but someone said, "What if we have four Alice Coopers?"
-Makeup to Breakup, Peter Criss, p.64-65
KISS' first gig was at The Coventry in New York on January 31, 1973--only
2 weeks after Ace joined the band.
Names for the band before KISS was decided on included "Albatross",
"Rainbow", and "Crimson Harpoon". Gene was once quoted
as saying that he wanted to call the band F**K but thought it wouldn't
fly with record companies. This was later shown to be just a joke. The
acronym Knights In Satan's Service that many anti-rock preachers claimed
was what KISS stood for was never true either. (or Kids In your Sister's
Skirt, or Kings In Satan's Service, or any other acronym)
November 1, 1973--KISS signs with Casablanca records for a four-album
Kiss was the first band to sign to Neil Bogart's Casablanca label,
but "Kiss" was the second release on the label. A single from Bill Amesbury
entitled "Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do") was actually the first release,
albeit a single. "Kiss" was the first long play album to be released on
the label. (p.49 -Black Diamond,)
KISS' biggest musical influences were Alice
Cooper, Mountain, New
York Dolls, and The Beatles.
Gene's hair caught on fire several times while performing his fire breathing
The cover of KISS was created by having the band sit under a heavy (and
reportedly hot) black curtain. The band wanted the cover to resemble the
classic 'Meet The Beatles' album cover.
To get the silver look in his hair, Ace used silver spray-painted that
he assumed would wash right out. He was mistaken.
Peter Criss' make-up
was changed on the day of the photo shoot by a make-up artist against
the will of Criss. All three of the other members did their own make-up.
It was the artist's idea to put the dots on Peter's whiskers and such.
Nothin' To Lose/Love
Theme From KISS was the first single released by the band.
KISS re-recorded Strutter as a "new" track for 1978's
According to Ace
it five stars. It was one of our best records because it had that spontaneity
and that tough kind of sound. I think we put 110% on that record. It
was the first time I ever did a real album. In retrospect, Richie and
Kenny weren't the greatest producers. They were as green as were were...production-wise
it's lacking a lot. The songs on the first album are good. We knew those
songs backward and forward." -Kiss-Behind the Mask, p. 210
"'Cold Gin' represented my first writing contribution to the band. It was a song about loneliness and poverty–hard times in general–and the comfort that can be found in a bottle, a concept I'd come to know well in the future, but that I understood only in abstract at the time...I'm not even sure what I was trying to say, or why I wrote a song about gin (let alone cold gin). I didn't drink gin: didn't drink liquor of any kind very often. I was a beer man then, and not even a connoisseur. Gimme a can of whatever you had in the fridge. I was happy. I wanted to write a drinking song, and "Cold Gin" sounded like a great title."
-No Regrets, Ace Frehley, p88-89
"KISS...was like nothing that had come before it. We made Alice Cooper seem tame; we made the (New York) Dolls look like a bunch of schoolgirls."
-No Regrets, Ace Frehley, p96
"The goal with KISS was simply to get the song on record–to replicate, as closely as possible, the sound of our live performance. To make that happen we worked quickly and efficiently. I think we did the entire album in about three weeks...I remember stressing out a little about the solos...I was always a performer, thriving on the audience response and never quite repeating any solo in exactly the same way."
-No Regrets, Ace Frehley, p101
According to Peter
it five stars because it was the first. The first album was my baby.
I gave it my all. I loved all the songs on it like "Strutter",
which is one of my favorite Kiss songs, "Duece" and "Firehouse."
I wanted it. I didn't want to have to go back to the bars. I put my
whole heart and soul into it, which I didn't do with every one of them." -Kiss-Behind the Mask, p. 210-211
I always thought that our strength was in our rawness and balls-to-the-wall energy. KISS was always a great three-chord jerk-off band, the best three-chord band in history.
-Peter Criss, Makeup to Breakup, p. 126
According to Gene
album is the first time we all got pregnant. The baby came and that's
what it was. There wasn't a lot of foresight. It was all done in three
weeks. Two weeks of recording and then mixing. We recorded the first
KISS album at Bell Sound in New York. It was kind of an extension of
the first demos we did...I quite like the album, I think the songs stand
up. There's some interesting playing. The tempo of the songs is slower
than I'm used to hearing." -Kiss-Behind the Mask, p. 210
According to Paul Stanley,
the first album was the culmination of everything I'd worked for up
to that point...some bands have had the good fortune of being in the
studio with technicians and a creative team that could capture their
sound. I think unfortunately, starting with the first album, that was
never achieved with KISS. Though it documents our songs, it doesn't
capture what the band was about live or sonically. But what came from
inside us managed to transcend what is sorely lacking in terms of the
scope of the recording. I'd give the first KISS album five stars, because
that's the mother of all others. That was like our Declaration of Independence,
and everything that came after that is based on that album."
-Kiss-Behind the Mask, p. 210
Speaking of Ace Frehley's tryout, "The combination of the four of us was so much bigger than anything we'd done with the other guitar players. We weren't the greatest musicians, but the chemical reaction of the four of us was potent."
-p101, Paul Stanley, Face the Music-A Live Exposed, 2014