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PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FORUM IS TAKEN FROM PREVIOUS VERSION OF QUEEN SONGS SITE.
Path: Queen Songs - Forum - Song Analysis: KissBookmark and Share

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Sebastian: Kiss05 Aug 2004 03:06
As promised over a year ago, I was going to write about them. I find they`re an incredibly talented band, very under-rated, even though they have a huge fan base (the Kiss army). But Kiss is hardly ever considered one of the top superbands (as opposed to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and some others). Their visual factor (concerts with lightning effects, explosions, over-the-top theatrical performance, and of course the make-up) is much more famous than their music, which is not less original and distinctive imo.

One of the main causes of the relative ignorance people has had for them when talking about super-bands is that they don`t have a proper rock/pop classic (something like Stairway, Bo Rhap, November Rain, Hotel California...). They do have many "second level classics" like Detroit Rock City & Rock N` Roll All Night (comparable with Black Dog, Crazy Little Thing, Another One Bites, Sweet Child, Jungle, Paint It Black), but those are usually ignored as musical gems even though they`re just as majestic as the "first level" classics.

`Forever` almost won that status in 1989, being their biggest selling single since `Beth` (which is btw a relatively but not sufficiently respected ballad in rock circles). Unfortunately, they had a very big competition that same year: Tesla`s Love Song. Both tracks have similar aspects (power ballad combining acoustic classical guitar with powerful drums, anthemic choruses and nice harmonies), but Love Song`s unforgettable intro (from which dozens of thousands of tabs are downloaded or bought every year) made it win the vacant everlasting position. That`s ironic: Tesla is averagely unknown outside the US, yet they had this worldwide classic that tends to be part of the common setlist of any guitar player (although normally, as in the case of Stairway, many people play the intro and that`s it), while Kiss, being enormously famous, doesn`t have even one track with such devotion and respect. Paul had tried that when he wrote Rock And Roll All Night, but it`s not as respected as "proper" classics (more examples: Dust In The Wind, Eternal Flame), in spite of being just as famous/air-played as those.

Probably Queen had had that same problem if they didn`t have Bo Rhap. Or Led Zeppelin without Stairway. Both bands would have a lot of highely known pieces (Radio Ga Ga, Kashmir, All My Love, Rockyou / Champions, for some extent Dyer Maker) but not something to "synthesize" their concept. And perhaps that`s the problem with Kiss. People think of Eagles and they thin of HC, think of Kansas and they think of Dust In The Wind, think of Metallica and they think of Nothing Else Matters (which I expect and hope to be just as respected as those 70s classics in the next decades), but if they think of Kiss... some think of Beth, some RNRAN, some Detroit, some Forever, some Psycho Circus, some IWMFLY... there`s not one "common" track that defines them. Any of those songs would do it, but all of them failed to be "that" famous. Or "that" memorable. They were all running ups.

Having said that, now some general data: this is a band of contrasts. Musically their trademarks are basically the guitar twin parts (in harmony), the combination of Paul`s and Gene`s voices (one being very rock and powerful, the other also very rock but in a more raw tone, and with baritone range), love theme lyrics and ballads combined with an amazingly high amount of memorable melodies and riffs (second only to the Beatles imo, and just because Beatles were first, chronologically). They have a similar history to Queen (which is why many people compared them): very heavy band at first, later on they`d expand their palette (for example `Beth` is an orchestrated ballad, `I Was Made For Loving You` is pop), very fond of contrasts, nice harmony work. The latter was more developed by Queen mainly because Kiss did`t have enough songwriting skills to do something like Bo Rhap (although I think vocally they would be able to reach those limits if they had tried), and by other side they were somehow "ashamed" of trying such non-rock genres and styles and incorporate them. In that matter all of the Queen guys were brave enough to do whatever they wanted (from blues to metal, from funk to musichall) because they didn`t care of critiscism.

Both bands had a hard time in early 80s (Kiss had an album that didn`t even sell gold), and around the same era they did synth music. For both Kiss and Queen, the vocal part was more intricate and complicated in the first albums, later on it was more routine work. Both bands had an album in the 80s that tried to recover old fans (`Creatures Of The Night` and `The Works` respectively), released almost paralelly (one or two years of difference), and trying to get back at their roots and at the same time not forgetting what they had learned in their "minimalistic" era.

Both Kiss & Queen have two members more focused than the rest. In the first, Paul was the main songwriter (numerically and hit-wise), was/is more associated with the band`s trademark sound, Gene is the most admired member by fans (considering his "bad-guy" image, as opposed to Paul`s "uncompromising" visual impact). In Queen, Freddie was the main songwriter (numerically and hit-wise), and has more fans than Brian (who is in this case the most associated with the band`s sound), but May is more respected in rock circles as musician (because of the image again, Brian has the image of "multi-talented", Freddie has the image of "gay singer"). As the rest of members, Queen maintained the drummer and bass player, while Kiss changed the two "changeable" members - drummer and lead guitarist - from time to time. All in all Kiss had three drummers: Peter (the cat-man, and the original drummer, the one with Rod Stewart-like voice and the songwriter and singer of `Beth`), Eric Carr (the fox, and a very admired drummer, great Bonham-esque style, wonderful voice, sadly died, the same day as Freddie btw), and Eric Singer (who ocassionally plays bass too, and took over the cat make-up after Peter left for the second time). On lead guitars they had four: Ace (appearing at the beginning and the end, characterised for his Dylan-esque voice and his heavy Stones influence, and his remarkable solos), Vinnie (Egyptian character, who litherally moved from Kiss to Bangles, as he produced some material for the girls), Mark (very technical guitarist, sadly he had to leave soon due to illness), and Bruce (the one who lasted the longer, and the one who plays the solo of `Forever`; he never had a character since he entered and left in the middle of the band`s unmasked era, but he gets along with them and eventually has co-written some of their songs after he left).

I think Psycho Circus might be influenced by Brian`s & Cozy`s Resurrection by the way. When I first heard it, I found the song "too" Kiss, and many friends had the same initial though. But... Kiss didn`t sound like that until 1998, which was after Resurrection. Rooky mistake:), anyway, similar aspects between both tracks:

- The intro
- The "devil" singing in the middle
- The chorus (anthemic and powerful, withenergetic  high singing)
- Majestic solo (although Brian`s is of course more accomplished than Paul`s)

Interestingly enough, Gene was the person who "discovered" Van Halen (although his requests to Kiss manager to take care of them failed, they would later regret that of course), and Paul almost produced Guns N Roses, but he asked them to change Welcome To The Jungle and leave it more "commercial" (with synths and e-drums) and Axl just asked him to f... .... Axl punched Bowie once too... talk about rock episodes :)
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