Sunday, May 14, 2017

Certain Songs #879: Kiss – “Detroit Rock City” | Medialoper

Album: Destroyer
Year: 1976

For those millions of teenagers who wondered what Kiss would do in the wake of the massive mega success of their alive, the answer came pretty swiftly — Destroyer was released a scant six months later while Alive! was still riding high on the charts.

I must be feeling charitable in my dotage, but I will give it up right here right now for one aspect of Kiss during their glory years: their willingness to flood the market with product. Or as fans would put it: their willingness to release more music!

Either way, as I’ve previously praised bands I loved like Hüsker Dü or Guided by Voices for being prolific, so six albums from Kiss to Love Gun in a little over three years (not to mention Alive!) is pretty impressive.

In any event, Destroyer was produced by then reigning hard rock guru Bob Ezrin, and leads off with what I’ve always considered their best song, the first person teen car crash epic, “Detroit Rock City,” which was clearly about a dude who’d figured out how to rock and roll all nite and party every day. Or at least he clearly thought so.

Explicitly referencing their fans with a musicless intro that featuring the poor doomed fan drunkenly singing along with “Rock and Roll Nite” on the radio before driving directly into the spiraling opening riff of the song.

With Gene Simmons knocking on the window of the car with his bass fills and Peter Criss motorvating through his drums, “Detroit Rock City” really gains momentum with the big riff that comes after the chorus — a long, involved riff that reminds me of what Aerosmith was doing at around the same time. Aerosmith, who I always loved more than Kiss, so I can’t give a bigger compliment.

Also pretty boss was the Ace Frehley / Paul Stanley guitar duel that dominated the second half of the song, which eventually went over the Aerosmithy riff and directly to one last verse. Eventually they got to song-ending car crash, which went karranging right into the next song, “King of The Night Time World,” which was exactly the kind of anthem that scolds would insist led to the kind of behavior which got the guy in the song killed in the first place.

In any event, “Detroit Rock City” was in a long tradition of teenage death songs, but was kinda unique because it was neither preachy nor sad, and, in fact felt pretty fucking realistic from a band that wouldn’t even show their true faces.

“Detroit Rock City”

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