Yell! Magazine’s Holy Trinity Series – Three Ikonik KISS Albums

KISS Dressed To Kill

cover_kiss_dressed_to_killDressed To Kill is the best album in the holy trinity – if not the best KISS album. Yes, it has the song that everybody in the world knows, “Rock And Roll All Nite,” but that is hardly why this is a great album.

Released on March 19, 1975, just five months after Hotter Than Hell, Dressed To Kill was yet another album that flopped in the eyes of the public, that is, until the live version of “Rock And Roll All Nite” (charting at Number 12) from Alive! was released later that year. While Neil Bogart was the first to recognize that KISS needed an anthem, and Gene and Paul obliged by putting together two songs that they’d been working on independently, “Rock And Roll All Nite” is KISS’ “Stairway to Heaven” – the song everyone knows and is tired of hearing. Since its release, this song has closed most every KISS concert and appears on all best of compilations and live albums.

Behind the scenes there was some considerable duplicitous infighting between the label, management, and producers, which resulted in Neil Bogart (struggling Casablanca label owner) becoming the new producer. This might answer some fans concerns regarding KISS’ departure from a more “metal” sound to one with a lot more pop in it, however, they still maintained their ‘50s-era rock and roll sound and Beatle-like harmony. With major labels showing interest in the band, not for moving products (the previous two albums weren’t moving off the shelves) but for a must-see live performance, Bogart needed to try something different with KISS’ sound if he wanted to keep them on his sinking label.

kiss - dressed to kill (back)OK, Dressed To Kill has the greatest back cover in history and, once again, it’s just simplicity; it’s the negative of the photo on the front cover. Musically, there are a few surprises. First, Gene and his bass carry this album; without it, it would sound like shit. Ace is tight throughout, even on KISS’ first acoustic solo introducing “Rock Bottom.” And Peter Criss never sounded as good vocally as he does on “Getaway.” And while the album is fairly pop-oriented, “She” comes out of no where with heavy riffs, blistering solos, great vocals, and awesome lyrics like “The power’s all within her as she takes off her clothes.”

Again, there are no throw-away tracks on this album (except “Rock And Roll All Nite,” but KISS understandably needed this song at the time – and it’s good, so it belongs), but the songs to pay attention to are: “Room Service,” “Getaway,” “Rock Bottom,” “C’mon And Love Me,” and “She.”


Just think that all this was accomplished with an uncompromising attitude, a belief in your greatness, and 13 months.

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