Kiss 40 Years: Decades of Decibels

by: Kiss

Released just weeks after the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame succumbed and put "the hottest band in the world!" on their honor roll, the Kiss 40 compilation landed in order to celebrate four decades of rock & rollin' all night, and partying every day. The track list is filled with classics and desirable extras with hits like "Nothin' to Lose," "Beth," and "Lick It Up" appearing in their original studio and/or singles versions, while other blockbusters appear in alternate versions like "Detroit Rock City" in its Kiss Symphony: Alive IV recording and "God of Thunder" in demo form. This is partly due to the set's rule of "one track from every major album release" so that demo checks off 2001's The Box Set while the live version of "Room Service" takes care of the woeful comp You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!. Even the four solo albums from 1978 get their due, and they fall heavily toward the Gene and Ace half of the band in terms of quality ("Radioactive" and "New York Groove" respectively) with Peter and Paul running way behind (only Kiss Army commanders will recall "You Matter to Me" or "Hold Me, Touch Me [Think of Me When We're Apart]"). Of special interest is the unreleased "Reputation," a "Christine Sixteen"-like rocker where Gene Simmons barks out the kind of sexy and self-serving lyrics for which he owns the patent ("She was young, and she loved me, she really couldn't live without me/She gave me all she could, she loves control"). All and all, Kiss 40 does a nice job following its odd song-per-album rule, and knocks off fringe releases like Sonic Boom Over Europe and Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions with ease, but it takes a mega-fan to appreciate how well this task was executed, so consider its high score for those who know the Music from "The Elder" album inside and out. This is a triumph of format and the band's longevity, and not necessarily a knockout introduction. ~ David Jeffries

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