I was twelve years old I think. I bought it with my own money. The artwork on the cover was like some kind of post-apocalyptic kabuki horror movie poster. The front cover shows the group striding on top of a pile of rubble, and a desolate background spotted with destroyed buildings, some of which are engulfed in flames. The back cover shows a similar scene, but with more buildings on fire. The front of the inner sleeve featured a large KISS logo and the lyrics to “Detroit Rock City”.
The other side displayed the lyric “SHOUT IT OUT LOUD”, as well as an advertisement for the Kiss Army fan club. The album was DESTROYER from KISS! It was 1976, I had stayed up late the night before to watch Don Kirshners ROCK CONCERT with my buddy Howard Musselmann so we could see KISS on TV. They played their song FIREHOUSE, and at the end of the song with the stage filled with smoke, sirens and candelabras, Paul Stanley Smashed his guitar in half! , Gene Simmons wagged his impossibly long tongue at the camera and breathed fire! They were frightening! I loved it! I was from that moment and forever more an unabashed, unashamed, loud and proud KISS FAN! That moment was the very moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life! I wanted to do THAT! So I took my birthday money I had saved along with my lawn mowing money, walked into the local record store the very next day and bought it! DESTROYER
Just look at the song titles!
1. “Detroit Rock City”
2. “King of the Night Time World”
3. “God of Thunder”
4. “Great Expectations”
5. “Flaming Youth”
6. “Sweet Pain”
7. “Shout It Out Loud”
9. “Do You Love Me”
The album begins with somewhat of an old radio theater type of opening, You can hear someone washing dishes while a television news reporter drones on about “The body of adolescent Michigan youth was reported dead at the scene of a head on collision on Grande avenue this morning. The Youth was reportedly driving on the wrong side of the blvd when he struck a delivery truck and was catapulted through the windshield of his car”………… he trails of and you hear the sound of footsteps on gravel, keys jingle, a car door opens and shuts, the engine roars to life, cutaway to a different engine sound…. from a distance,a different engine? cut back to the inside of the first car, the song Rock and roll all night is playing on the radio while someone mumble/sings along….the aural imagery is so cool and very clearly is letting you up for something big! Two different engines accelerating…. Seeming to be racing towards each other…. Soon the muscle car engine noise is blending with the intro to Detroit Rock City! And those HUGE power chords! MAGIC! This wasn’t just Rock and Roll, This was Theater! This was like nothing I had ever heard before. This wasn’t Elton John, This wasn’t my Parents Elvis Presley Records. This was mine.
With Masterful production from Bob Ezrin (producer of Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Lou Reed) The album just oozes Bombast and Drama! Teenage Rebellion, the illusion of anarchy. Macho bravado and even love! Destroyer had so much attitude! It was so atmospheric, There were evil sounding children’s voices during the intro of God of Thunder , The Brooklyn Boys Choir even appears during the song Great expectations. The riffs on Destroyer are just massive. The harmony guitar solos were perfect! ,the reverse recorded drums were trippy, and I still think, some of Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons best vocal work ever period!. By the time the sonic assault of DESTROYER comes to an end with a very strange mix of Paul Stanley’s stage banter along with a recording of an audience losing their minds and a loop of the chorus of Great expectations. All playing at the same time. I was dumbstruck. I sat in silence a long time after that first play, my ears ringing. Then I started it again, from the beginning. With dads giant headphones on this time so I could really crank it up! I did this over and over. So did all my friends. (all three of us) I found I finally fit somewhere, us weird kids, we were a tribe of sorts….an ARMY! I wasn’t so worried about always being the new kid in a new school. I stood a little taller and wished my hair was longer and freakier until it was!
KISS were my BEATLES, and DESTROYER was my Sgt Peppers. (Before I discovered The Beatles mind you)And Like the Beatles each member was important. Four individual characters .Rock and Roll superheroes! Perfect for my adolescent brain! Kiss began in 1973, 44 years later and they are STILL selling out arenas around the world.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), who are the organization that certify and award gold and platinum records, have announced KISS have earned more gold album record awards than any American band in the history of the certifications.
Over the past 44 years, KISS have earned 30 gold albums, including the four solo albums that were released simultaneously in 1978. The band has 14 platinum albums, with three going multi-platinum.
“Congratulations to KISS — the new Gold standard for albums by American bands,” says RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman. “What an extraordinary achievement for an enduring band.
To all the nay say-ers, fireworks and make up don’t sell records for 44 years, Great songs do.
Is KISS Destroyer the most musically important album to me? No, not by a long shot. But on a personal level that record changed my life and set me on the path I still walk to this day! In fact Im going to go listen to it again right now!
Note: Tony LeClerc is the Bass Player and does Vocals for the band “Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio”! www.twinklerocksoulradio.com
Kiss Destroyer Album Cover from Wikipedia