Dressed to Kill


1975: Casablanca Records 824 148-2

  1. Room Service
  2. Two Timer
  3. Ladies in Waiting
  4. Getaway
  5. Rock Bottom
  6. C’mon and Love Me
  7. Anything for My Baby
  8. She
  9. Love Her All I Can
  10. Rock and Roll All Nite

Considering that I have copies of all of Kiss’s original makeup-era albums (aside from The Elder, which I did own very briefly before discarding), it’s odd that I haven’t written about all of them for these pages of my website after so many years. Probably that’s because enough people have written enough about Kiss’s albums that it’s hardly necessary for me to add another droplet to the buckets of commentary; but then I’m not writing additional commentary here, I’m just providing some perspective for why certain albums are in my musical library.

In the case of Kiss, my library’s contents reflect my own opinion of their work: the original-group years were the ones I cared about, and those were bookended by weaker works (or at least by albums that didn’t grab me as much). Their debut album was passable but had glimmers of promise, and Hotter Than Hell was like watching a great-but-strange party happening in the next room; Dressed to Kill is where Kiss seemed (to me) to finally be marking their territory and demonstrating their unique/collective quirk as songwriters, although it took ALIVE! to really roll out the guns and show what the studio tracks could be in full glory. From Dressed to Kill to Love Gun and the studio tracks from ALIVE II is where I still see Kiss’s brightest creativity shine. On this album, it’s in the combination of edgy and restless compositions—“Ladies in Waiting” is an odd one indeed—and surprising vocal arrangements which to my disappointment Kiss seem to have abandoned after this (the opening and choruses of “Anything for My Baby” are well worth studying a bit in that way, especially from a compositional perspective).

Without its vocals and instrumental drive “Love Her All I Can” would just be a wimpy ballad instead of the arrestingly tight and muscular thing that it is here, and believe me I am still astonished at how concisely exuberant this puppy is even 35 years after its recording; for that matter, it remains a standout in that it’s an un-soggy celebration of love, love being roared about by one of its mating lions rather than softened into abstraction. And then right in the middle of it is a radiant blaze of guitar work by Ace Frehley that perfectly expresses the sentiment of the lyrics with the same vitality and virility…even Peter Criss’s drumming feeds the mix that way.

I’ve never cared for “She,” not being a woman-obsessing person, and in fact I’d hardly remember the song at all if it weren’t for the killer coda/segue to the “Let Me Know” closing riff on the ALIVE! recording of “She.” And “C’mon and Love Me” was one of those hits that did nothing for me even though it worked for so many other people. Other than those two tracks, however, I remain impressed by this album’s songs if not necessarily by their recordings here. “Rock and Roll All Nite” works here somewhat, but obviously it would take a live recording’s energy to turn it into the monster anthem it became.