Kiss is the self-titled debut album from the American hard rock band Kiss. When it was released, on February 8, 1974, Kiss had been a band for little more than one year. Much of the material on the album was written by Gene Simmons and/or Paul Stanley, as members of their pre-Kiss band, Wicked Lester. Simmons estimated that the entire process of recording and mixing took three weeks, while co-producer Richie Wise claimed it took just thirteen days.
The album was recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York City, which was owned by the company that owned Buddah Records. Neil Bogart, founder of Casablanca Records, was an executive at Buddah prior to forming Casablanca.
Casablanca Records held a party at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles to celebrate the West Coast release of Kiss (February 18) and to introduce the record company to the press and other record industry executives. In keeping with the Casablanca theme, the party included palm trees and a Humphrey Bogart lookalike. Kiss performed their usual loud and bombastic stage show, which turned Warner Bros. Records (Casablanca's record distributor) against the group.
Soon after the show, Warner Bros. Records contacted Neil Bogart and threatened to end their deal with Casablanca if Kiss didn't remove their makeup. With manager Bill Aucoin's backing, Kiss refused. Shortly after the release of Kiss, Warner Bros. released Casablanca from their contract.
Kiss sold approximately 75,000 copies after its initial release, without the presence of a hit single. The album was re-released in 1997 (along with most of Kiss' earlier albums) in a remastered version. It was certified Gold on June 8, 1977, when it sold 500,000 copies.
With the exception of "Kissin' Time," all of the material for Kiss was written before the band entered the studio. Some of the songs were written during Wicked Lester's brief existence, while "Firehouse" was written by Paul Stanley while he was attending Music and Art High School in NYC.
"Strutter," which opens the album with a Peter Criss drum fill, is an uptempo rock song that was written before Ace Frehley joined Kiss. Paul Stanley wrote the lyrics, and the music was based on a song Gene Simmons had written years before, "Stanley the Parrot."Simmons and former Wicked Lester member Brooke Ostrander recorded a 45 rpm version of "Stanley the Parrot" in a New Jersey apartment. "Strutter" remains one of the few Kiss songs where Stanley and Simmons share songwriting credits, and was a standard number at Kiss concerts throughout the 1970s.
This song was the first composed for Kiss by Frehley. Insecure in his own singing ability, Frehley turned over the vocals for the album to Simmons. "Cold Gin" was a concert staple throughout the 1970s.
"Let Me Know"
"Let Me Know," previously titled "Sunday Driver," was the song Paul Stanley played when he was first introduced to Gene Simmons, and it was later recorded by Wicked Lester. Simmons and Stanley shared lead vocal duties on the song, which was given a bridge and instrumental coda when recorded for Kiss. In later Kiss concerts this coda was moved to the end of "She."
"Kissin' Time" was not included on the original album; in fact it was not recorded until two months after the album's February release. By April, the album was clearly not the commercial success the band and Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart were hoping for. Bogart, who knew that a catchy single could save the album, ordered Kiss back into the studio to record "Kissin' Time," which was a Top 20 hit for Bobby Rydell in 1959. It was released as a single on May 10, but never reached any higher than #79. It did, however, boost sales of the album even though it was not added to the album until it was reissued in July 1974 (against the wishes of the band).
Although Gene Simmons, "Deuce"'s songwriter, admits that he doesn't know what the lyrics mean, the song nevertheless has been a staple at the band's concerts, opening their shows from 1973-1976, reintroduced to their set for the 1990 Hot in the Shade tour, and again for their 1996 reunion.
The album's cover showed the group positioned against a black background in a pose visually reminiscent of The Beatles' With the Beatles album (Criss stated that this was the visual effect the band was looking for). Three of the four band members applied their own makeup for the album cover photo, as they usually did; but Peter Criss's makeup was applied by a professional, whose work came out looking quite a bit different from the look Criss had established, and to which he would return immediately afterward.
According to Criss, photographer Joel Brodsky thought Kiss were literally clowns, and wanted to place balloons behind the group for the shoot. Brodsky, however, has denied this, chalking it up to imagination.
The North Carolina glam metal band FireHouse takes its name from the song "Firehouse"."Strutter" was featured in the PS2 and Xbox360 videogame Guitar Hero II.
"Strutter" – 3:12
"Nothin' to Lose"– 3:29
"Firehouse" – 3:19
"Cold Gin" – 4:23
"Let Me Know"– 3:01
"Kissin' Time" – 3:54
"Deuce" – 3:08
"Love Theme from Kiss" – 2:26 - Instrumental
"100,000 Years" – 3:25
"Black Diamond''– 5:14
Gene Simmons – bass guitar, lead vocals
Paul Stanley – rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Ace Frehley – lead guitar
Peter Criss – drums, lead vocals
with Bruce Foster – piano on "Nothin' to Lose"