Saturday, March 15, 2014

Today In KISStory - 1976 | Source: wikipedia/Destroyer

Today In KISStory - March 15, 1976: KISS' fourth studio album 'Destroyer' is released.

'Destroyer' is the fourth studio album and fifth album overall by KISS, released on March 15, 1976 in the United States. It was the second consecutive KISS album to reach the Top 20 in the United States, as well as the first to chart in Germany and New Zealand. The album was certified gold by the RIAA on April 22, 1976. It was certified platinum on November 11, 1976, the first KISS album to achieve that distinction.

Coming on the heels of the group's breakthrough album "Alive!", 'Destroyer' is easily the most ambitious studio recording of KISS' '70s catalogue. Bob Ezrin, who had previously worked with Alice Cooper, was brought in to produce the album. Among the production flourishes Ezrin introduced to KISS were sound effects, strings, screaming children and reversed drums (on "God of Thunder") as well as a children's choir.

'Destroyer' is the first KISS album to prominently feature outside musicians, such as members of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra. However, one musician was not credited: Dick Wagner, from Alice Cooper's band, replaced Ace Frehley on tracks such as "Sweet Pain" (as Frehley didn't want to interrupt a card game he was playing during recording sessions for the song) and even on a song that Frehley himself co-wrote, "Flaming Youth". Wagner also played the acoustic guitar found on the song "Beth". The success of Alive! and Destroyer enabled the band to embark on their first tour of Europe.

The cover art for 'Destroyer' was painted by fantasy artist Ken Kelly. Kelly's work was brought to the attention of Simmons, who met with Kelly to discuss ideas for 'Destroyer'. Kelly agreed but asked to see Kiss perform live first to gain inspiration. He was invited to a show and given a backstage pass. He later said of the performance, "It blew me away." Kelly was later commissioned by the band to draw the cover for 1977's Love Gun.

Kelly's original version of the album cover was rejected by the record company because they felt the scene was too violent looking with the rubble and flames. Also, the original version had the members of Kiss wearing the Alive! costumes. The front cover shows the group striding on top of a pile of rubble, and a desolate background spotted with destroyed buildings, some of which are engulfed in flames. The back cover shows a similar scene, but with more buildings on fire. The front of the inner sleeve featured a large KISS logo and the lyrics to "Detroit Rock City". The other side displayed the lyric "SHOUT IT OUT LOUD", as well as an advertisement for the KISS Army fan club.

In anticipation of the 35th anniversary of the release of 'Destroyer', producer Bob Ezrin approached Simmons and Stanley about doing a remix and re-release of the original album. With their approval, Ezrin acquired the original 16-track analog master tapes and had them digitally transferred for remixing. In addition to re-equalizing elements of each song, Ezrin also added in some parts of tracks that had been omitted from the original mix. Notable among these are some additional vocals on "Detroit Rock City" and "Beth", and the substitution of a guitar solo by Ace Frehley on "Sweet Pain" for the one from the original that had been performed by Dick Wagner. (A version of "Sweet Pain" with Frehley's solo was included as track 6, while the original version with Wagner's solo is appended as a "bonus" track at the end of the new CD.) Ezrin also used digital manipulation to fix an incorrect lyric ("down 95") on "Detroit Rock City". The resulting album, titled 'Destroyer: Resurrected', was released on August 21, 2012. It featured Ken Kelly's original cover artwork prior to alteration by Casablanca for the 1976 release.

'Destroyer: Resurrected' met with positive critical reception. William Clark of Guitar International wrote: "Each track sounds crisper, clearer and louder, which are always welcome qualities when you’re listening to a classic album of the likes of Destroyer". The album returned to the Billboard charts, debuting at #11 the week after its re-release.