You knew it was bound to happen. Hell, I’m wondering why it took me 10 weeks to get to this band.
Here it is. Let the debate begin. My 10th choice (not ranked, just the 10th “Great Song” I’ve chosen for this series) for a classic, timeless rock n’ roll song is by a band more divisive than “Avatar” and for a brief moment in the 1970s, way more popular than that 3D box-office record buster: KISS.
What do I tackle first? The band’s reputation or the music itself? Hit the play button above right now and lets begin with the music, even though that’s not what KISS is necessarily known for…
“You wanted the best and you got it. The hottest band in the land, KISS!” That’s how you start a rock show. And then…
That riff. Oh, man, that riff. As sloppily played by Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley in 1975 at the peak of their live power, that riff just kills. It’s anything but subtle. And Peter Criss just pounds it into the ground. Gene Simmons wrote this song and it’s not particularly melodic in the vocal department, so he’s just shouting the crowd down. You can feel the energy in every note, every yelp, every….scream!
The scream. Yes! The scream. A blistering Ace guitar solo concludes, there’s a nice little breakdown (some sweet cowbell from Criss), and then the song is ready to explode again. At 2:58 (in the video above), Simmons lets loose with a hair-raising scream that says, “We mean business.”
I believed it. I ate it up. For a kid who’d never been to a live rock show yet, this was the song that set my imagination on fire. Nowadays, Gene means business in a different way (ha ha), but back then, I believe he came to rock. And for a small moment in time, this cartoonish, over-the-top group of 7-inch-heeled superheroes ruled the world. What an innocent, glorious moment in time it was.
All we have left is KISS “Alive!,” a live record from 1975 that captured pure rock magic (and some strategic studio overdubs of course) and spread it across a 12″ vinyl slab. “Deuce” still rocks harder than 99 percent of the rock I hear being made today and that’s because it’s borne out of equal parts desperation (about to get dropped from their record label) and frustration (from four guys from NYC willing to do anything to “make it”) and it appeals to the rebellious, angry, rock n’ roll spirit in every teenager.
Simply put, it’s a Great Song.