KISS Now Sell *Official* Air Guitar Strings, Seriously


(via metal injection)

KISS are no strangers to merchandise that pushes the line of good taste, from overpriced masks to wine, to caskets and urns to disturbing looking condoms, KISS proves there is no product too crappy to have their logo on it.

But this next product is so insane, and pointless that it’s almost come back around to being sorta genius. KISS is selling air guitar strings now…

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Isolated Vocal Track Could Confirm or Destroy Your Preconceptions About Kiss

Love ’em or hate ’em, Kiss’ isolated vocal track for “Shout it Out Loud” makes for a revelatory listen.

The first thing that stands out–even more for the lack of musical accompaniment–is the puerile superficiality of the lyric. No surprise there. Kiss always did inhabit the edge between an actual rock band and unintentional Spinal Tap-style irony. Their serious treatment of the subject of the need to party (especially the “whoa, yeah!” at 2:29) can either make you want to raise a fist in the air and sing along, or simply elicit a bemused chuckle, depending perhaps on your level of impairment.

But that chorus! Whatever infantile babble surrounds it, that gloriously-harmonized, imminently singalongable refrain is something Alice Cooper would, um, die for. And to a degree it dispels any one-dimensional opinion one might wish to have of the band. Whatever Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons’ shortcomings as vocalists, this is pretty impressive vocal stacking. And I realize much–perhaps most–of the credit goes to Bob Ezrin, who produced and co-wrote the track. But hey, the Beatle’s “Yesterday” would be a much lesser song without George Martin’s baroque ornamentations. The fact is this is still a Kiss song. And one I find myself forced somewhat against my will to like.

This example is microcosmic of how rock and roll can be sublime and ridiculous at the same time. Within a single song–even with one “woah, yeah!”–a fan can identify all of rock’s silliness and pomposity and get shivers at the same time. Go see a Styx concert if you don’t know what I’m talking about. The magic is in walking the tightrope between ambitious and over the top.

Even “Knights In Satan’s Service” believe they can sing like angels. And with the help of the right producer they can.

What makes rock great is its unwillingness to believe in its limitations.


Gene Simmons “KISS” Makeup Tutorial

The (Historically Inaccurate) Genesis of “Beth” by KISS

10 Albums That Almost Killed Careers

career kill

(Reprinted from Ultimate Classic Rock)

by Matthew Wilkening

Rock musicians, much like professional athletes and romantic partners, are constantly in danger of being asked, “But what have you done for me lately?” Even the biggest bands and solo stars can find themselves suddenly out of favor and plummeting down the charts if their latest album doesn’t live up to either their own legacies or fan expectations.

From Van Halen‘s ill-fated attempt to prove lightning can strike not just twice, but with three different lead singers, Kiss‘s mind-boggling attempt at creating a critic-pleasing concept album, the mighty Rolling Stones wandering too far from their strengths and many more, Ultimate Classic Rock and take a look at the 10 albums that almost killed the careers of some of rock’s biggest stars.

As you’ll see, luckily in nearly every case the “offending” artists were able to regroup, learn from their mistakes, re-connect with the magic that made us fall in love with them in the first place and resurrect their careers. Now let’s see exactly how and where they went wrong in the first place…

van halen

Van Halen: ‘III’

As far as selecting lead singers goes, the third time was definitely NOT the charm for Van Halen.

After racing straight to the top of the rock mountain with original frontman David Lee Roth, and miraculously managing to stay there for another decade after he was replaced by Sammy Hagar, Van Halen chose Extreme singer Gary Cherone as the group’s third vocalist. Their first (and only) album together, 1998′s ‘III,’ was a shapeless mess that was panned by critics and avoided by fans. It would be 14 years before the group returned — with Roth on the mic — with the triumphant ‘A Different Kind of Truth.’


Kiss: ‘Music from the Elder’

After watching their reign atop the late-’70s arena rock scene disappear in a puff of disco smoke, Kiss knew they had to do something big and bold to get back in the game. Unfortunately, 1981′s ‘Music from the Elder’ was an even bigger misstep.

Producer Bob Ezrin, fresh off the success of Pink Floyd‘s ambitious concept album ‘The Wall,’ decided that the facepainted marvels, whose lyrical depth typically topped out with tracks like ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Christine Sixteen,’ should tackle an album-length suite of songs about a young medieval warrior’s epic quest to save the world… or something. The end product, while admirably daring, is one of the most universally panned and mocked records in rock history. To their credit, they righted their creative ship the next year.


Rolling Stones: ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’

OK, here’s where we stretch the boundaries of this list’s title right up to the breaking point. After all, it’s not likely that any one album could kill the Rolling Stones‘ career, even one as odd, out of character and poorly received as 1967′s ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request.’

But it definitely sent them back to the drawing board. Clearly influenced by the psychedelic music of the era — and some would say, overly focused on keeping up with the Beatles‘ ‘Sgt. Pepper‘ — the Stones delivered an ambitious but ultimately unfocused effort that made them look like followers instead of leaders — at least, until they kicked off perhaps rock’s most impressive four-album run ever with ‘Beggars Banquet’ the next year.


Neil Young: ‘Trans’

If ever a rocker has valued chasing the constantly changing sounds in his head over making commercially safe career choices, it’s Neil Young.

Young, who followed up his warm, lush commercial breakthrough LP ‘Harvest’ with the abrasively dark ‘Tonight’s the Night,’ dabbles in genres like rockabilly, country and R&B as quickly as others change shirts. Even by those standards, 1982′s ‘Trans’ stands out as his most risky move; a synth-heavy semi-concept album featuring heavily processed vocals that confused many fans. Together with 1983′s ‘Everybody’s Rockin’,’ ‘Trans’ led Geffen Records to sue Young for making “unrepresentative” albums. He won, and has continued marching to his own drum regardless of the chart results to this day.


Bob Dylan: ‘Under the Red Sky’

Much like Neil Young, the creatively restless Bob Dylan has often — and seemingly willfully — tried to shake his fans loose from time to time.

Whether he was embracing electric guitars on 1965′s ‘Bringing it All Back Home,’ country and Americana on 1967′s ‘John Wesley Harding,’ or Christianity on 1979′s ‘Slow Train Coming,’ there have been plenty of times where Dylan risked alienating his listeners. But 1990′s ‘Under the Red Sky,’ filled with nursery-rhyme level lyrics and overly slick production, was the point where many wondered if the former visionary had simply lost the trail — or worse, given up. Luckily, the singer launched another (still going) winning streak with 1997′s ‘Time Out of Mind.’


Smashing Pumpkins: ‘Machina/The Machines of God’

According to Billy Corgan, there are numerous reasons that Smashing Pumpkins‘ 2000 would-be swan song sold fewer copies than ‘Adore,’ the divisive electronic-tinged album that came two years earlier. First, it’s a concept album whose storyline went way over people’s heads. And then there was the timing. The band was in the midst of breaking up, and the alt-rock scene was then ruled by the loud and dumb likes of Korn and Limp Bizkit.

“So the combination of those elements was a career-killer,” Corgan said in a 2006 interview. “‘Adore didn’t alienate the audience, they were just sort of like, ‘Oh, it’s not the record I want.’ [‘Machina’] alienated people.”

Corgan waited seven years to revive the Pumpkins and issue a proper follow-up, ‘Zeitgeist.’ The album divided critics, but it reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Last year’s ‘Oceana’ seemed to fare better, at least critically, and many hailed the disc as Corgan’s finest since the early ’90s.


Weezer: ‘Pinkerton’

After the success of Weezer‘s debut, 1994′s so-called ‘Blue Album,’ Geffen execs no doubt wanted more nerdy power-pop nuggets like ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘The Sweater Song.’ Instead, mastermind Rivers Cuomo gave them a brutally honest, emotionally fraught song cycle based on the opera ‘Madame Butterfly.’ The tunes were catchy, but Cuomo’s sexual hangups and struggles with fame weren’t exactly the stuff of Top 40 singalongs. Critics balked, the disc peaked at No. 19 and Weezer went on hiatus.

When Weezer returned in 2001, it was with another self-titled effort, this one all about pop hooks. The ‘Green Album’ kicked off an unlikely second act that continues to this day. Interestingly, Weezer’s comeback was largely due to ‘Pinkerton,’ which had grown in stature throughout the ’90s. Whether better than ‘Blue,’ it trumps anything Cuomo has released since, though the middling likes of the ‘Red Album’ and ‘Raditude’ have done little to hurt the band’s standing.


R.E.M.: ‘Around the Sun’

R.E.M.‘s unlucky 13th album missed the U.S. Top 10 and failed to yield a hit single. For the first time since the mid-’80s, the Athens alt-rock heroes found themselves outside of the mainstream, only this time, it wasn’t because they were a cutting-edge cult act awaiting a commercial break. As guitarist Peter Buck admitted, they were tired old superstars who’d lost the plot.

“[‘Around the Sun’] just wasn’t really listenable, because it sounds like what it is, a bunch of people that are so bored with the material that they can’t stand it anymore,” Buck said in 2008, the same year the band dropped ‘Accelerate,’ the first of two back-to-basics albums that reaffirmed R.E.M.’s relevance and ended their career on a relative high note. History was always going to look kindly on the group, but ‘Around the Sun’ would have been a dim end to the story.


U2: ‘Pop’

In the late ’90s, no flop was really going to kill U2‘s career, but ‘Pop’ was cause for concern. Following ‘Zooropa’ (1993) and ‘Achtung Baby’ (1991), the album capped a trilogy that saw these venerable stadium gods reinvent themselves as electro-rock experimentalists. The songs are built around loops, samples and the like, and while the band had made successful use of such techniques, ‘Pop’ suggested that Bono and the boys had run out of ideas and reached the end of a particular phase of their career. The public more or less agreed, and ‘Pop’ became U2′s lowest-selling disc since 1981′s ‘October.’

Having perhaps learned their lesson, U2 returned three years later with the more guitar-centric ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind.’ The album spawned four smash singles and won seven Grammys, and to date, it’s sold more than 12 million copies.


The Clash: ‘Sandinista!’

No record better encapsulates the Clash‘s story than ‘Sandinista!’ Brilliant, infuriating, bursting with ambition yet bogged down with bad ideas, this 36-track triple LP perplexed fans and angered execs at CBS, who were strong-armed by the band into selling it for the price of a single album.

‘Sandinista!’ may have been a bargain, but it hardly flew off shelves. At a time when Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon might have become punk’s Fab Four, they went ‘White Album’ times 10, experimenting with soul, hip-hop, funk, disco, dub and even gospel, virtually ensuring there’d be no hits.

The Clash were already starting to splinter, and sessions for the follow-up, ‘Combat Rock’ (1982), proved extremely contentious. Remarkably, that album proved the band’s commercial breakthrough, and thanks to the singles ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ and ‘Rock the Casbah,’ the “Only Band That Matters” found itself on the pop charts, if only briefly.

Songs You May Have Missed #140


Kiss: “Hard Luck Woman” (1978)

This is one you may not have missed, actually, considering it was a top twenty hit. But listen again if you will and make sure you don’t miss the sound of a band “out of their element” that I described in song #138 (

Ragged vocals, un-subtle drumming, a sort of love song that lands just this side of too much sentimentality…power ballad hallmarks all. And a bit of the “power” comes from the fact that it’s sung by a band who’s avowed intent was to rock and roll all nite and party every day. Nothing in their mission statement about “letting feelings show” or “wiping tears from…eyes”.

I deliberately sourced the rarer Double Platinum version of the song because I prefer its slower-building arrangement at the beginning (drums and bass come in only after the first verse).

Another power ballad prototype would be the Rolling Stones’ “Angie”. When it came out I’d heard nothing of the kind from the Stones. Had they put one heart-wrenching ballad on each album, “Angie” would never have carried such weight.

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