Double Platinum
(Mercury 532 383)

For my money, it's hard to beat the no-nonsense ball-rockin' of Kiss's Double Platinum. Originally released in 1978, it remains the best individual release in the Kiss kanon, collecting all the grit and none of the crap from their first four years. While later ball-rockers like "I Was Made For Lovin' You," "Heaven's on Fire," and "Lick it Up" aren't represented, this collection is still an awesome picture of Kiss when they were at the top of their game (whatever that was).

20 cuts, all killer, no filler. Except that most of Kiss's songs are filler to begin with, but don't let that stop you from banging your head to the likes of "Deuce," "Detroit Rock City," and "Rock And Roll All Nite" or nodding along sensitively to proto-power ballads like "Beth," "Black Diamond," and "Hard Luck Woman."

For what it is, this is pretty kick-ass music, as long as you leave your thinking cap and any sense of political correctness or societal propriety at the door. I am reminded why this was such a permanent fixture in my childhood 8-track player.

The memories come flooding back … carrying around weighty feelings of guilt because I felt I might like Kiss even better than my well-established idols, The Beatles. How confusing for a 6 year old, to be struggling with such an identity crisis. The world had pitted the acceptable, intelligent pop of the Fab Four against the primal, glammy cartoon superheroes known as Kiss. I wrestled with this for a long time, even feeling like I was betraying the Beatles when I dressed up as Peter Criss for Halloween '78. (John Hogue was Ace Frehley. We had no Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley; we evidently preferred the alcohol and drug-addled members to the actual songwriters. Kids!)

Nowadays I'm probably more likely to put on a Kiss CD than a Beatles CD, even as my mind tells me it can't be so. My head tells me, "Boy, all you've ever known was pop. Stick with it." But my body says:

"She's a dancer, a romancer/I'm a Capricorn and she's a Cancer."
Just like in "Makin' Love!" So has Kiss won? Who knows, man, I just go with the flow. In six months I may be shaking my head and wondering why these Kabuki-clad clods have shadowed me for twenty years. Sure, they were not a part of my life for eighteen intervening years, but they were always there, deep in my subconscious, ready to make my life "Hotter Than Hell" at any moment.

All of Kiss's anthems are here: "Strutter '78" (a revamped version of their early classic), "Calling Dr. Love," "God of Thunder," "100,000 Years," "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll." Twenty tracks in all, making this one of the rare Kiss CD's that actually gives you your money's worth (clocking in at just over 69 minutes, of course). The flow is excellent, and the song choice makes a surprisingly good case for Kiss being a great hard rock band (which they weren't).

The packaging on this new remastered version is great, too, duplicating the original embossed cover of the LP version. It's funny that Kiss have received such a meticulous reissue series when other artists (Bob Dylan, Queen, and yes, The Beatles) still suffer with mid-80s CD releases that look terrible and sound so-so. But Kiss has always been about marketing and hype as much as about music.

Double Platinum sounds killer, and is essential ball-rockin' music for the longhair in everyone. If you must have only one Kiss CD, this is it, although by all means, foolishly get them all! But stop short of getting those early 80s Peter Criss solo albums … what are you, a damn fool? Fandom is fine, but I doubt very much that the Kiss Army suffers its AWOLs gladly!

Review by Geoff Chinese