1976: Casablanca Records 824 149-2

  1. Detroit Rock City
  2. King of the Night Time World
  3. God of Thunder
  4. Great Expectations
  5. Flaming Youth
  6. Sweet Pain
  7. Shout It Out Loud
  8. Beth
  9. Do You Love Me

While this was one of the first Kiss albums I ever heard or owned, it hasn’t aged as well as many of the others, and that surprises me greatly: it seemed like it was a solid piece of stadium-rockin’ stuff, but in retrospect it’s really an iffy album with a few standout tracks and a lot of not-quite-ready-for-prime-time filler.

The standouts are of course the tracks that sold the group as much as the album, at the time, “Shout It Out Loud” and “Beth” in particular. “King of the Night Time World” and “Do You Love Me?” were just as strong in their own way but weren’t the album’s selling points, and there were some completely ghastly tracks too (“God of Thunder” and “Great Expectations” top the list for this album, in my book).

But then there’s the two tricky tracks here that defy classification even within the context of this one album, let alone the Kiss œuvre or the mid-’70s musical scene: “Flaming Youth” and “Sweet Pain.” Mind you, neither is a great song nor a stellar performance; what still surprises me about these two tracks is that they continue to exist independent of their origins even decades later. Neither is great, yet each has survived the years without evident aging. And I’d love to know the story behind the backup vox on “Sweet Pain”—were they some women just brought into play for one recording session and not even named, or was that actually the guys just sped up a bit?

A final note: compare this album’s cover painting to that of The Wiz—who copied whom?