Rock And Roll Over
Casablanca Records, 1976
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/06/1997
With all the fuss and press over the Kiss reunion tour of the past year or so, it may surprise some of our readers that we haven't reviewed a Kiss album on "The Daily Vault" until now.
It may also surprise people to know that Rock And Roll Over was the first Kiss album I ever bought. I've made no secret that some of my best finds are at used record stores and garage sales. In fact, it was at a garage sale when I was in high school that I found this particular album, paid my quarter for it, and rushed home to see what the big deal over Kiss was. And it wasn't that I was ignorant to the band's history - "Tears Are Falling" was plastered all over MTV, but the band was far from their glory days of the '70s.
Paul Stanley and crew were at the top of their game when Rock And Roll Over came out in 1976 - they were coming off the smash hit Destroyer, featuring "Detroit Rock City." To some people, this album was a step backward for Kiss - if you will, the beginning of the end of the classic period.
And while there are some good songs on this album, the sad fact is this album has not withstood the test of time. The majority of the album is "filler" - songs that sound like they were leftovers from previous albums.
Let's first deal with the hits. "Calling Dr. Love" typifies the cock-rock that Kiss has pushed forward throughout their almost 25-year career, but it is one of their better efforts. And while Kiss may have shocked their fans with Peter Criss's ballad "Beth" on Destroyer, the inclusion of a Paul Stanley ballad in "Hard Luck Woman" feels natural. The guitar work of Stanley and Ace Frehley is incredible. (Interestingly enough, the cover of this song on the tribute album Kiss My Ass even beats the original - covered by one Garth Brooks.)
Other minor hits from this album include "I Want You" and "Mr. Speed," as well as "Ladies Room" - some of which made it onto their second live album Alive II (though I don't remember any of these tracks being performed on their recent tour).
But that's where the fun stops on Rock And Roll Over. Kiss tries to put on a decent show with the remaining five songs, but they just don't stand up to their best work. "Take Me" is a little too graphic (these guys were getting parallel almost every day, and they have to sing such braggadoccio as "Put your hands in my pockets / Strap on to my rocket"? Give me a fuckin' break.). Other songs sound like the rest of Kiss's catalogue. "See You In Your Dreams" and "Love 'Em And Leave 'Em" could have easily come off of Dressed To Kill - or even a later album like Dynasty.
But this doesn't necessarily make Rock And Roll Over a bad album - it's just cut out of the same old mold the rest of their albums to that point (aw, who am I kidding - their whole catalog is like this) were. But it does make for an entertaining listen, at the very least.