Having attained massive success earlier in 1976 with ‘Destroyer’, Kiss also managed to alienate a large number of its fan base with the radical departure on this album.
Written by: Dangerzone
ALBUM: Rock And Roll Over
SERIAL: NBLP 7037
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Paul Stanley – vocals, guitar * Ace Frehley – guitar * Gene Simmons – vocals, bass * Peter Criss – vocals, drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 I Want You * 02 Take Me * 03 Calling Dr Love * 04 Ladies Room * 05 Baby Driver * 06 Love Em And Leave Em * 07 Mr Speed * 08 See You In Your Dreams * 09 Hard Luck Woman * 10 Makin’ Love
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Having attained massive success earlier in 1976 with ‘Destroyer’, Kiss also managed to alienate a large number of its fan base with the radical departure of their familiar song structures. Out went the sex and in came almost pretentious lyrics and overblown musical arrangements, complete with ‘Beth’.
The change was supposedly influenced mostly by Stanley and Simmons, along with producer Bob Ezrin who whipped the band into shape in a manner they were unfamiliar with. This is what most of the band admitted started the rot of Kiss, with alleged street urchins Criss and Frehley not used to such regimented recording sessions.
The loss of their identity with ‘Destroyer’ prompted the band to return to the style of the first three albums, although the common perception is it was to appease Frehley and Criss, who were not in favor of the shift in direction. Regardless ‘Rock And Roll Over’ is Kiss the way they were meant to be heard, which to utilize a cliche ‘is raw and straight ahead hard rock’.
Out went Ezrin and in came producer Eddie Kramer, who himself admitted ‘Destroyer’ wasn’t the real Kiss. I’d have to agree with him, this for me is where the original Kiss was always at its best.
With their success the bands production values had increased and the quality in sound compared to the earlier albums is obvious. The simplicity of the material had not however, making ‘Destroyer’ such an anomaly in their catalogue to that point.
‘I Want You’ opens with brief acoustic shadings but soon explodes into life, with a typical melodic Stanley chorus, glorious 70’s hard rock at the core. Even better is the classic sex-driven romp ‘Take Me’, with stomping riffs and lyrics like ‘put your hand in my pocket and grab on to my rocket’. This is where Kiss always excelled, keeping the music uninhibited and heavy with no pretensions towards anything.
Simmons’ ‘Calling Doctor Love’ has gone into history as a Kiss favourite, one of his best songs of the decade, especially the identifiable riff that makes the song so memorable. It’s astonishing to me that years later how contemporary it sounds, much superior to anything from the weak ‘Monster’. ‘Ladies Room’ sounds like a leftover from ‘Dressed To Kill’ and was much heavier live than on vinyl, which was often the case with Kiss.
Criss makes his first appearance on ‘Baby Driver’ and as the legend goes he was furious with the way the song was altered from how it was originally written. Criss said it was more soulful at first, but forced by the bullying tandem of Simmons/Stanley it was made more straight rock. It still works as a slice of Kiss’ style of hard rock, which you couldn’t really argue with.
Simmons returns with ‘Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em’ which again boasts some great riffs and lyrics, this time Simmons having a ‘stiff proposition’. What’s forgotten too is how melodic Kiss were, tying all the elements together and the hook here is especially memorable, the band at their 70’s peak.
The bands power really isn’t evident on ‘Mr. Speed’ as it’s more geared towards the hook, with the backing vocals adding colour to an upbeat track. By the time of ‘See You In Your Dreams’ the album almost reaches a lull, with the expected heaviness not quite consistent, as the emphasis seems to be more on harmony and radio acceptance. This is far from bad though, with Criss making an impact behind the kit.
The albums big hit was ‘Hard Luck Woman’, which Stanley wrote with Rod Stewart in mind as singer. Criss was insistent on singing it, with his vocal style not dissimilar to Stewart’s and he puts in a display that ranks with the best of Rod himself.
As Stanley claimed, he didn’t write it for the band so it doesn’t quite sound like your normal Kiss track, especially with the acoustic work. But it’s miles ahead of ‘Beth’ and could have been a natural inclusion on Stewart’s ‘Atlantic Crossing’.
The album ends like it starts, ‘Makin Love’ another Stanley rocker with more acoustic guitar in the mix, mostly wiped out by Frehley’s guitar solo and another series of huge riffs.
The album was the tonic Kiss fans were hoping for and the album went platinum quickly, leading into 1977 nicely where they would achieve their biggest success. This album has never quite had the profile of other milestones like ‘Alive!’ or ‘Destroyer’ but it should. It’s very much the equal of the first three albums, much more assured and captures the band before they started to disintegrate.
Of course it was considered appalling by ‘expert’ 70’s rock critics who were beneath such childish fare. Not much seems to have changed all these decades later. All in all this a high point for Kiss, just one of many through their mostly legendary career.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)
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