The Great Songs: KISS – Deuce

by Eric Melin on May 26, 2010

in Columns,The Great Songs

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.

kiss alive! album cover 1975What 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.

The Great Songs: Big Star – Thirteen

The Great Songs: The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset

The Great Songs: The Jayhawks – Blue

The Great Songs: Pavement – Summer Babe

The Great Songs: The Zombies – Care of Cell 44

The Great Songs: The O’Jays – Back Stabbers

The Great Songs: Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

The Great Songs: George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today

The Great Songs: Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 J. May 31, 2010 at 8:56 am

I enjoyed the Lenny Kravitz cover on the tribute album, featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica.

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2 J. May 31, 2010 at 8:56 am

I enjoyed the Lenny Kravitz cover on the tribute album, featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica.

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3 Eric Melin June 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Me too, that was proof positive of the song’s staying power.

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4 Eric Melin June 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Me too, that was proof positive of the song’s staying power.

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5 Dave June 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Completely agree on the merits of this song. Though its not my favorite KISS song (that would be Detroit Rock City) it is a pretty good microcosm of what KISS music is about. And the way its recorded for Alive! is unbelievable. I’ve heard it hundreds of times and I still get goosebumps.

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6 Dave June 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Completely agree on the merits of this song. Though its not my favorite KISS song (that would be Detroit Rock City) it is a pretty good microcosm of what KISS music is about. And the way its recorded for Alive! is unbelievable. I’ve heard it hundreds of times and I still get goosebumps.

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7 Eric Melin June 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Goosebumps, yes. It makes me pine for the burgeoning theatrical stadium rock days. Wonder what it would have been like to be a teenager in that crowd…man…

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8 Eric Melin June 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Goosebumps, yes. It makes me pine for the burgeoning theatrical stadium rock days. Wonder what it would have been like to be a teenager in that crowd…man…

Reply

9 red hair extensions October 26, 2010 at 2:50 am

Some kind of a rebellious appeal, angry, rock n’ roll spirit in every teenager. Great band for this Halloween party.

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