photo & text by nacrowe
i remember my cousin once explaining to me how KISS was beyond unbelievably lame because they apparently represented everything base, market-driven and inauthentic about music. of course i disagreed and my counterargument went straight to LOVE GUN (CASABLANCA, 1977). i asked him if he thought PAUL STANLEY was being phony when he sang about his penis on the title track "LOVE GUN." thats right, dude was indisputably genuine when he sang about how his special lady "pull[ed] the trigger of my love gun."
enlightened? not so much. authentic. absolutely.
and that pretty much sums up the ethos of KISS in general. not the most talented or artistic, but you cant knock them on effort or intent. they are as DIY as it gets and have long been a working man's band, despite their flaunting of wealth, sex and various (non-drug related) indulgences. i always think of their creative output as the embodiment of the old-school laborer mantra that success is about "99% perspiration and 1% inspiration."
"PLASTER CASTER" is a celebration of the noted (now late) visual artist CYNTHIA PLSTER CASTER who famously took casts of erect rock star phalluses by the likes of JIMI HENDRIX, ERIC BURDON (THE ANIMALS), WAYNE KRAMER (MC5), CHRIS CONNELLY (MINISTRY), JELLO BIAFRA (DEAD KENNEDYS), RICHARD LLOYD (TELEVISION) and DAVID YOW (THE JESUS LIZARD) among many others. interestingly in recent years she has done a similar thing with female rock star breasts which include SUZI GARDNER (L7), PEACHES and KAREN O (THE YEAH YEAH YEAHS) among others.
honestly "CHRISTINE SIXTEEN" is extremely problematic but is indicative of where cultural mores where in the ROCK AND ROLL community in the 1970s. its all out there, just do any cursory internet search on the alleged dalliances of DAVID BOWIE, STEVEN TYLER, BILL WYMAN, IGGY POP, TED NUGENT and MICK JAGGER with underage groupies back then. its pretty revolting. so yeah, i kinda skip this track whenever possible as it did not age well. at all. like so many other ROCK AND ROLL songs from the later half of the 20th century, such as "RUN FOR YOUR LIFE" and "I SAW HER STANDING THERE" by THE BEATLES, "UNDER MY THUMB" and "BROWN SUGAR" by THE ROLLING STONES, "DON'T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME" by THE POLICE or "SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN" by CHUCK BERRY, it would have been called out and crucified (justifiably) in the #METOO era.
my favorite track bar none off LOVE GUN is the ACE FREHLEY-penned and sung track "SHOCK ME." its got this nasty opening riff that has this BLUES-y repeated bend at the end. its just a classic ROCK AND ROLL lick that is immediately identifiable and fun to play. the song was inspired by FREHLEY nearly once being electrocuted on stage during a previous tour, but could just as easily be about the jaded complacency of being overstimulated and the need for something bigger to take you over the edge. in essence it feels like a song about excess, which is thematically very much a concern with KISS throughout their discography.
along with the title track, these are the two songs that i regularly return to. the rest of the album is kinda whatever. im not gonna recommend KISS to anyone since they are very much an acquired taste. you kind of have to embrace the ridiculousness of the band to have fun with it. but if you are a fan of CLASSIC ROCK or the more excessive 1980s brand of ROCK AND ROLL (im thinking VAN HALEN or MOTLEY CRUE), then KISS and their absurd LOVE GUN album might be worthy of further investigation. or not.