The Year Of KISS: KISS (1974)

“Out on the streets for a living….”

Formed in 1973 from the ashes of a band called Wicked Lester, KISS began recording their debut album, KISS, in October of that same year. Just a few months later on February 18, 1974, the album was released. Despite heavy promotion from Casablanca Records, the album only managed to sell around 75,000 copies. It wouldn’t achieve gold status until 1977. Poor album performance was a trend that KISS and Casablanca would experience with the band’s first three studio albums. Only their massively successful live album, Alive, in 1975, would save them and Casablanca Records from falling to the wayside.

L to R: Ace “Space Ace” Frehley, Peter “Catman” Criss, Gene “The Demon” Simmons, and Paul “Starchild” Stanley.

There were nine tracks on the original album. Most of them would go on to become staples of KISS’ live shows. “Kissin’ Time” was added to later presses of the record in July of 1974. Three singles were released and the album peaked on the US Billboard Chart at #87.

Track Listing:

  1. Strutter (single)
  2. Nothin’ To Lose (single)
  3. Firehouse
  4. Cold Gin
  5. Let Me Know
  6. Kissin’ Time (single released in May of 1974, added to track list in July, 1974)
  7. Deuce
  8. Love Theme From “KISS”
  9. 100,000 Years
  10. Black Diamond

Personnel: Paul Stanley (rhythm guitars, vocals), Ace Frehley (lead guitar, backing vocals), Peter Criss (drums, vocals), Gene Simmons (bass, vocals).

This is one of my favorite KISS albums. Of the ten tracks that were on it, seven of them have consistently been played by the band on tour for nearly fifty years. I keep waffling between which track is my favorite on the album. Some days I say that “Black Diamond” is my favorite song and then I’ll turn around and say that “Strutter” is my favorite one. All that I know for sure is that both of those songs feature amazing drum work from Peter Criss and great vocals by Criss on “Black Diamond” and Paul Stanley on “Strutter.” Another song that I really love is the Ace Frehley penned “Cold Gin” that is sung by Gene Simmons. The bass on “100,000” years is also amazing. For lack of a better term it’s just a sexy groove. Ace really shines on all of his solos on this album, especially on “Black Diamond.” “Love Theme From KISS” is a surprisingly solid instrumental track. “Firehouse” is a sludgy rocker that signals the sound for KISS’ next album, Hotter Than Hell.

The album and the band are unique in that three of the four band members sang lead vocals. Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Gene Simmons all sang lead vocals. In some cases, they would trade off vocals in the same song. Ace Frehley would eventually take the lead on “Shock Me” in 1977 on the album Love Gun.

There really isn’t a bad track to be found here. It should be noted that I am biased in my opinion because KISS is my favorite band. I hope this little review helps out anybody that might be interested in the group. If you like gritty, punchy hard rock, KISS is for you.

Thanks for checking out my review!


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