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.

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