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Love Gun

Casablanca NBLP 7057
Released: June 1977
Chart Peak: #4
Weeks Charted: 26
Certified Platinum: 6/30/77

After seeing Kiss backstage without their makeup, I have lost all ambition to do anything with me life except see them naked. Gene Simmons knows this and has written a song about the Plaster Casters -- a couple of groupies who made molds of rock stars' nonproboscis protuberances in the late Sixties -- to titillate me and the millions of other Americans who go to bed every night wondering about Simmons' masculine module. Does he paint it like his face before he performs with it ? Does it breathe fire and puke blood? If so, does his girlfriend use an asbestos diaphragm?

Simmons subtly leaves these questions unanswered on Love Gun, no doubt to preserve his mystique. He does, however, drop us several tantalizing hints. He describes his Vesuvius of the lower regions as "perfection" on "Plaster Caster" and offers, "If you want to see my love, just ask her." This line represents the record's only serious artistic failure: inside the jacket is an order form for Kiss T-shirts, Kiss posters and Kiss belt buckles -- so why do we have to go to the Plaster Casters for a glimpse of perfection? Why not have a $6.95 check-off for a plastic replica of the Gene Simmons Memorial Seed Silo? Paul Stanley, who also uses "love" as a euphemism for "my dick," could have a model that dances in eight-inch platforms. Peter Criss could have one with a hydraulic system that raises it 30 feet in the air. And Ace Frehley's could shoot rockets over the audience.

Kiss - Love Gun
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
Love Gun's less serious failures include losing much of the energy in the overdubs (a chronic problem with Kiss) and not taking enough advantage of Peter Criss' excellent voice. Still, they come up with some nice riffs, and "Then She Kissed Me," a cover of the Phil Spector tune, is genuinely funny for the right reasons. I'm told their next album will contain the definitive versions of everything potentially worth hearing on Love Gun.

- Charles M. Young, Rolling Stone, 8-25-77.

Bonus Reviews!

I first realized that the Kiss phenomenon had probably peaked when they played Madison Square Garden last spring. It was the first time I had seen them since the dawn of their career -- when, as they applied whiteface in their dressing room, they waved their fists at each other and blustered, "Let's take Detroit!" And take it they did: the Michigan Palace audience clapped on beat with such fierce monotony, jaws slack in aw, that I thought I was looking out on a sea of stoned seals. But a mere three years later, they palpably failed to take the Garden. They had their biggest set ever -- all the smokebombs, firebreathing, and bloodspitting in the world -- but the one thing they didn't have was much enthusiasm for their music, and that kind of non-excitement is distinctly contagious.

Probably 1976 was when Kiss got as close as they are ever going to get to international superband status comparable to that of Led Zeppelin or Bad Company. I actually like Kiss better than either of those groups, because I think if you're going to be tasteless you may as well go all the way, but so far the teen fans of England and the rest of Europe have proved noticeably resistant to having this scam shoved down their throats. And it's not going to get any better, for Kiss at least, since they have one problem that is a lot more serious than those faced by their peers in the heavy-metal league: namely, it's much harder to come up with new faces than with new riffs. What do you do next when your lizard-bat costumes start to provoke yawns and your nuclear smokebombs are greeted as so much flaming flatulence?

It's really too bad, because -- and you may not believe this -- Kiss is actually a decent band. True, they have a propensity for sounding like the MC5 played backwards and slowed down, but that still leaves them with more energy than their plodding competitors. Sure, their lyrics are all sexist macho bluster and Gene Simmons offensively brags in print about his sexual exploits. Kiss, Aerosmith, Bad Company, Ted Nugent, and the like are all offensive on certain levels to normally sensitive human beings. But Kiss was never supposed to be a collection of human beings anyway. What distinguished them from the slimy narcissism of Aerosmith or the grim beefcake-flexing of Bad Company was that their act was fun. However, with Love Gun I am beginning to wonder if they are going the Grand Funk route of boring competence. What's absolutely certain is that neither Kiss nor their fans will ever again have as much fun as when they were the aural equivalent of a barnyard full of mutated livestock.

- Lester Bangs, Stereo Review, 11/77.

Rock's outrageous foursome has completed its most flawlessly produced and written album yet. This LP is loaded with a collection of nine original tunes and a cover of Phil Spector's "Then She Kissed Me" that represents a new high in quality and performance for a group riding the crest of four platinum disks, international acclaim and an admirable public relations effort that includes a special Marvel Comic devoted to them. This should all add up to making this LP one of the group's hottest. Plenty of single material here, played full-tilt with crystal clear vocals and catchy instrumental work throughout. Hard core rock, all of it. Best cuts: "Love Gun," "Christine Sixteen," "Shock Me," "Tomorrow and Tonight," "Plaster Caster," "Hooligan," "Almost Human."

- Billboard, 1977.

By the time of Love Gun, Kiss had perfected their gimmick, turning in a set of sleek, slick hard rock that celebrated its silly, tongue-in-cheek jokes and grotesque imagery. The group had polished all of the rough edges out of its sound, leaving a collection of hard-driving riffs that were more catchy than heavy. Songwriting was still a problem for the band, but Love Gun was one of their most consistent albums, featuring the concert staples "Christine Sixteen," "Plaster Caster," and "Love Gun." * * * *

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Love Gun takes a lighter tone than Kiss's previous albums but with the same spiffy production values as Destroyer. Poppy jewels such as "Plaster Caster" and "Christine Sixteen" suggest Kiss has improved its songwriting. * * * *

- Allan Orski, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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