August 28, 2008
Lake Tahoe Action’s reviews and previews of music that’s new ” or there’s a good reason to listen up again.
Paul Stanley said working with producer Bob Ezrin on “Destroyer” was like a “musical boot camp.” Although the Kiss Army first balked at the result, Kisstory shows that it’s the band’s greatest studio album.
“Everything about ‘Destroyer’ was unique and a quantum leap forward for us,” said Stanley, the Starchild guitarist and one of two original members remaining in Kiss. “Surprisingly, it initially was met with less than a warm reception from the die-hard fans because on first listening it was less raw and certainly less basic. Not surprisingly, over the last 30 years more songs from that album have become mainstays in our show than any other.”
Stanley’s comments appear in the book “Kiss,” part of a five-CD box set anthology the band released in 2001.
The new sound came about because of Erzin, best-known for producing Alice Cooper. Erzin, who used a whistle to instruct the band in the studio, was such a taskmaster that session guitarist Dick Wagner replaced Ace Frehley on some songs. The Spaceman reportedly didn’t like playing multiple takes, even if it was the song he’d written, “Flaming Youth.”
Erzin brought some nonmusicial effects to the studio as well: The opening track, “Detroit Rock City” begins with a fatal car crash involving a Kiss fan. The album concludes with some hard-to-explain weirdness at the end of “Do You Love Me.” Erzin and Kiss might have added the effects to lengthen the nine-song album.
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“Destroyer” was the fifth Kiss album, and it came after its first gold record, “Alive!” It hit gold in just five weeks. But the first three singles ” “Shout It Out Loud,” “Flaming Youth” and “Detroit Rock City” ” didn’t do all that well commercially, and Lake Tahoe Action’s competitor Rolling Stone criticized the album, writing that it had “bloated ballads and pedestrian drumming.” But the band and drummer Peter Criss had the last laugh with the release of a fourth single, “Beth.”
Criss doesn’t play drums but sings on “Beth,” the B-side to the “Detroit Rock City” single. Radio stations began playing it, and the fans loved it so much it went all the way up to No. 7 on the Billboard charts, making it Kiss’ first top-10 hit. The song also pioneered a genre of power ballads in the late 1970s and throughout the ’80s.
The album made it to No. 11 on the charts, and before the year ended, it had reached platinum status.
CHECK IT OUT: Stanley, Ezrin and Gene Simmons wrote “Shout It Loud,” which reached No. 1 on the Canadian Singles Chart. Ezrin sang the guitar solo to the band, and the power chords were doubled with a grand piano. Curtis Mayfield’s “Freddie’s Dead” influenced Simmons’ bassline. “Strangely enough, the idea of answering the verse with background vocals was something we had heard on Four Tops records,” Stanley said. “It was a great time for us. We knew we were taking a giant step, even in our 8-inch heels.”
Veteran country-rockers the Lost Trailers inject a dose of southern soul into contemporary country music on the band’s new album, “Holler Back.” Whether it’s the organ-spiced R&B in “All This Love” or vocalist Ryder Lee’s hip-hop flow in the title song, The Lost Trailers bring the funk to backwoods rock.
The band’s fifth album, and second since moving from rock to country music, “Holler Back” resuscitates three songs ” including the grooving “Hey Baby” and the sunshine anthem “Summer Of Love” ” from the Lost Trailers self-titled album, released in 2006 to little notice.
The other previously released tune, “Gravy,” displays the band’s nerve. Lee and primary songwriter Stokes Nielson celebrate marijuana in a bouncing, rap-influenced track that crosses Snoop Dogg with Charlie Daniels. Pot references in mainstream country songs are nearly nonexistent, yet the Lost Trailers take it a step further: Not only does the song celebrate smoking weed, it also brags about selling it for profit.
Like the guys in the hit movie “Pineapple Express,” the Lost Trailers charm with their slacker devotion to hedonistic action.
CHECK THIS OUT: The new “Blacktop Road” proves that this party-down band can create an earnest, slice-of-life narrative with a melodic chorus that sets its hooks in deep.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Glen Campbell, at age 72, would release a collection of songs as ambitious as this. Still, “Meet Glen Campbell” defies expectations.
But his choice of material is as unpredictable as can be. Campbell focuses on ballads written by hard rockers and alternative outcasts, putting his deceptively smooth voice to the Foo Fighters’ “Times Like These,” Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life),” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Walls” and “Angel Dream,” and the Replacements’ “Sadly Beautiful.”
These aren’t cheesy lounge renditions or tongue-in-cheek overstatements reminiscent of Tom Jones’ covers of dance hits. Much like Johnny Cash’s late-in-life work with producer Rick Rubin, these are serious recordings where Campbell locates the emotional thread in meaningful lyrics from those with different backgrounds than his. The best cuts ” his takes on Jackson Browne’s “These Days,” U2’s “All I Want Is You” and John Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me” ” own a timeless beauty that bridges generations and cultures.
CHECK THIS OUT: In the late 1960s, Glen Campbell and the Velvet Underground represented two sides of the pop-culture spectrum. One was the smiling, aw-shucks host of a TV variety show, the other was an Andy Warhol-endorsed art-rock band singing of drugs and kinky sex. But when Campbell sings the Underground’s unsettling “Jesus,” it proves how a good song melts away differences to reveal the connections between all of us.