Most people who grow up into life long rock fans have a ‘I was into Kiss when I was a little kid story’. I’m no exception. My neighbourhood buddies and I would pore and paw over the details on the back sleeve of Kiss Alive! when we were in school. Were those boys or girls holding up that hand drawn sign? Was that place considered a big venue or a small one in the 1970’s? Which of the bands albums did the hundred songs on Alive! come from? It was mind blowing when we found out they were all on the first three records.
The bands 70’s and 80’s albums got bought based on firstly how cool the sleeves were and secondly if they were within our price range. So it was weird to have heard Unmasked, The Elder and Love Gun out of sequence with Hotter Than Hell, Destroyer and Rock And Roll Over. When buying records at that age chronology is not as important as getting a copy of Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park (described by the band as A Hard Days Night meets Star Wars…) on Betamax.
When my oppo Ben finally got a copy of the debut album (KISS) suddenly we could start to make sense of things. This was ground zero. The first Kiss album. The make up is still being worked out as to how it looks (Peter Criss pull your act together Man!). This was simple rock and roll music. No big Bob Ezrin SFX and no disco influence. This stuff was primitive. And it was all the more fun for it.
There’s a track on Kiss called Let Me Go which we heard in video interviews and magazines the band had always referred to as Baby Driver in their pre-recording days. It had lead vocals from both Gene and Paul, taking turns to do a verse (perfect, I could be Gene, Ben could be Paul). Also it was super easy to try and play along with once we were serious about music enough to get ahold of some acoustic guitars. But it had some really complex Beach Boys style stuff going on down towards the end. I couldn’t even contemplate how you did that stuff. But the dung dung bass riff and the switch hit vocals sure were fun to play over the park in the summer holidays on hanging around in garages pretending we were really gonna be a band.
Of course years later the rest of that gang were a band. They were a bloody good indie band with some very original stuff and I loved going to see them play live. But they never did Baby Driver and I sort of always wished they would.