KISS is the debut album by American band KISS. When it was released, on February 18, 1974, Kiss had been a band for a little over a year. Much of the material on the album was written by Gene Simmons and/or Paul Stanley, as members of their pre-Kiss band, Wicked Lester. Simmons estimated that the entire process of recording and mixing took three weeks, while co-producer Richie Wise has stated it took just thirteen days.
The album was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York City, which was owned by the company that owned Buddah Records. Neil Bogart, founder of Casablanca Records, was an executive at Buddah prior to forming Casablanca.
Casablanca Records held a party at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the West Coast release of Kiss (February 18) and to introduce the record company to the press and other record industry executives. In keeping with the Casablanca theme, the party included palm trees and a Humphrey Bogart lookalike. Kiss performed their usual loud and bombastic stage show, which turned Warner Bros. Records (Casablanca's record distributor) against the group.
Soon after the show, Warner Bros. Records contacted Neil Bogart and threatened to end their deal with Casablanca if Kiss did not remove their makeup. With manager Bill Aucoin's backing, Kiss refused. Shortly after the release of Kiss, Warner Bros. released Casablanca from their contract.
Kiss sold approximately 75,000 copies after its initial release, without the presence of a hit single. It was certified Gold on June 8, 1977, having shipped 500,000 copies. The album was re-released in 1997 (along with most of Kiss' earlier albums) in a remastered version.
Of all the songs in the album, "Strutter", "Nothin' to Lose", "Deuce", "Cold Gin", "Black Diamond", and "100,000 Years" remain as permanent staples in the band's shows throughout the years. Following the departure of Peter Criss, "Black Diamond" has been performed by his replacements Eric Carr and Eric Singer.
USA : GOLD
In Their Own Words
Paul Stanley - "Recording the first album was the culmination of everything Id worked for up to that point. Looking back on it, some bands have had the good fortune of being in the studio with technicians and a creative team that would capture their sound. And I think unfortunatly , starting with the first album, that was never achieved with Kiss"
Gene Simmons - "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 would give it three stars.
Ace Frehley - "Id give it five stars. It was one of our best records because it had that spontaneity that that tough kind of sound. I think we put 110 percent into that record. The songs on the first album are good. We knew those songs backwards and forwards.
Peter Criss - "Id give it five stars because it was our first album. The first album was my baby. I gave it my all.I was so amazed that we were in a studio and sighned to a real record contract even though it was a nobody contract at the time. But we did it, we really did it...made our dream come true"
- Quotes take from the book Kiss:Behind the Mask
1. "Strutter" Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons Stanley 3:12
2. "Nothin' to Lose" Simmons Simmons, Peter Criss 3:29
3. "Firehouse" Stanley Stanley,Simmons 3:19
4. "Cold Gin" Ace Frehley Simmons 4:23
5. "Let Me Know" Stanley Simmons, Stanley 3:01
6. "Kissin' Time" Kal Mann, Bernie Lowe Simmons, Stanley, Criss 3:54
7. "Deuce" Simmons Simmons 3:08
8. "Love Theme from Kiss" Frehley, Stanley, Simmons, Criss Instrumental 2:26
9. "100,000 Years" Stanley, Simmons Stanley 3:25
10. "Black Diamond" Stanley Criss, intro by Stanley 5:14
- Paul Stanley - vocals, rhythm guitar
- Gene Simmons - vocals, bass guitar
- Ace Frehley - lead guitar
- Peter Criss - drums, percussion, vocals
- Bruce Foster - piano on "Nothin' to Lose"
- Warren Dewey - fire engine on "Firehouse"
The album's cover showed the group positioned against a black background in a pose visually reminiscent of The Beatles' With the Beatles album (Criss stated that this was the visual effect the band was looking for). Three of the four band members applied their own makeup for the album cover photo, as they usually did; but Peter Criss's makeup was applied by a professional, whose work came out looking quite a bit different from the look Criss had established, and to which he would return immediately afterward.
According to Criss, photographer Joel Brodsky thought Kiss were literally clowns, and wanted to place balloons behind the group for the shoot.
|KISS - Radio Commercial - February 1974|
USA Chart Peak (USA): #100 (12/26/74) with 15 weeks on charts. Other countries: AUZ #98; CAN #97 (1974/5), #29 (1976); JAP #46
Since the majority of these songs formed the core of KISS' original catalog it should not be surprising that all of them have been performed live. "Black Diamond," "Strutter," "Firehouse," and "Deuce" were all performed at KISS' first ever gig, on January 30, 1973. By June "100,000 Years" and "Acrobat" (which included the section that later became known as "Love Theme from KISS") had been added to the set. "Nothin' To Lose," "Let Me Know," and "Cold Gin" were some of the final additions. And of course, "Kissin' Time" which saw a few performances in May/June 1974 and again, albeit briefly, in 2006.