It was 1977, the year of Star Wars, Smokey and the Bandit… And the makeup-clad quartet known as KISS!
We’ve profiled KISS’s power-pop classic Rock and Roll Over in a previous article– but when dealing with KISS, it’s almost sacrilegious to discuss Love Gun separately. Both albums were recorded and released within a year’s time and Love Gun picks up right where RARO finished. By record’s end, you can hear why this period was the absolute pinnacle of the original lineup.
Love Gun begins with “I Stole Your Love”, perhaps the most energetic opener in the entire KISS-ography. Paul Stanley’s vocal range and delivery had grown immeasurably since the band’s eponymous, 1973 debut. The second track, the Gene Simmons-penned “Christeen Sixteen”, reinforces the pop sensibilities of RARO before continuing with another Simmons song “Got Love For Sale”. At this point, the secret weapon is unleashed when guitarist Ace Frehley steps up to the mic for his lead vocal debut on “Shock Me”, a move that would be repeated on subsequent releases.
Side B starts with the machine gun opening of the title track, one of the heaviest songs in the entire KISS catalog. “Love Gun” is fundamental KISS– it’s been performed on every tour the band has launched since 1977. As with every KISS album from this decade, Peter Criss’s vocals are utilized, this time on “Hooligan”, the most barroom rocker on the album. “Almost Human” features a mid-tempo groove, dissonant harmonies, and sounds like something that Simmons would’ve included on his 1978 solo effort. As we near the album’s finale, Gene’s fantasies continue with “Plaster Caster”, the story of legendary body art collector and groupie Cynthia Albritton– aka Cynthia Plaster Caster.
In the end, Love Gun is a fantastic 33 minutes of power pop/hard rock that features all four members of KISS on lead vocals for the first time.