The critics hated them and said that they would never last. Those same critics must now be eating a ton of humble pie as Kiss reach their 40th birthday still going strong with over 100 million sales behind them, a collection of gold and platinum discs only surpassed by The Beatles and The Stones and a recent, yet controversial, induction into the Rock `n` Roll Hall of Fame. Love them or hate them you simply can`t ignore them.
To mark four decades in the business Kiss have released a new compilation on two formats. One lavish, all-encompassing boxed set clearly aimed at muti-millionaire hedge fund managers and another for those of more modest means spread across a double CD.
The burning question to kick off with however is do we really need yet another compilation from Kiss bearing in mind the myriad of releases since Double Platinum in 1978? To be fair to 40, this is different to any previous compilation in that it features a song from every studio, live and previous compilation albums that they have released together with some previously unreleased live tracks and a demo from 1977.
As with all compilations arguments will rage over inclusions and exclusions but for most part this does a decent job of representing a broad cross section of their recording output from the very start with “Nothin’ To Lose” right up to the present with “Hell or Hallelujah” and everything in between but how on earth did “Christine Sixteen” find its way onto the album ahead of “I Stole Your Love” or “Love Gun”? Maybe “The Oath” would have been a better pick instead of “A World Without Heroes” as this may have nudged a few people to check out the much maligned but criminally underrated lost gem, Music From The Elder.
There are also a few sweeteners for the more dedicated fan with previously unreleased live versions of “Deuce”, “Cold Gin”, “Firehouse” and “Crazy, Crazy Nights” together with a demo version of “God of Thunder” featuring Paul Stanley on vocals previously only available in the Kiss Box Set. Probably of most interest however is the 1977 demo of “Reputation” which does bear a passing resemblance to “Christine Sixteen” which follows it in the running order. Hopefully Kiss will raid their archives for a more comprehensive rarities release sometime soon.
As compilations go this does serve as a good primer to a 40 year career for those wanting to find out what all the fuss is about and even without the inclusion of the likes of “Black Diamond”, “She”, “Creatures of the Night” and “I Want You” there is plenty of great songs to make a newcomer want to dig deeper. Those who want to hear more would be well advised to check out Kiss: Alive 1975-2000 as an excellent collection of their classic live recordings.
Overall 40 succeeds in achieving exactly what it intended to do. It provides an excellent overview of a 40 year career while giving existing fans a few unreleased tracks to keep them going and is certainly one of the best compilations Kiss have released to date.