Welcome to the second edition of KSE, my bi-weekly feature devoted to explaining each song in the KISS discography in a single sentence (or less). For more on this project, click here. I’ve also set up a Tumblr blog especially for this project, where, in addition to the song explanations, you can also view rare KISS photos and videos. It’s a rock and roll party there 24/7, so head on over and be sure to give yourselves a round of applause!
Sorry…..lapsed into Paul-speak for a moment there…..anyhoo, this time we are looking at Hotter Than Hell. Like KISS’ debut, this record was released in 1974. (They would keep up the two records of new material per year pace until 1977, when they only released 1.5 new albums. Slackers.) This record was recorded in California, and is probably sonically the worst sounding record they ever released. Which is a shame, because the material is very strong from top to bottom. Gene dominates the album, with “Parasite”, “Goin’ Blind”, “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll”, and “Watchin’ You” all instant KISS classics. (I am aware Ace wrote “Parasite”, which I took into consideration below.)
The photo shoot for the album, directed by acclaimed photographer Norman Seeff, has itself become something of a legend in KISS fandom. Here’s one of Gene with Paul clearly passed out in the background – according to KISS lore, on this occasion the normally teetotalling Paul was drunk off his ass to the point where he had to be locked in a car for his own good.
Anyway, on to the tunes:
Got to Choose
Paul is surprisingly understanding upon learning of his girlfriend’s infidelity; however he makes it clear he does not intend to compete for her affections.
A female admirer, unfamiliar with the transient nature of many rock star relationships, puts Ace in an awkward position.
Gene discovers that a link between masturbation and blindness does exist; however it takes nearly a century of practice to discern its effects.
Hotter than Hell
Paul propositions a married woman who is considered exceptionally attractive by mid-1970s standards.
Let Me Go, Rock ’n’ Roll
Gene likes for women to squeeze (and then release) his erect penis.
All the Way
The tenuous relationship between Gene and his girlfriend has nearly reached its breaking point.
Gene, dabbling in acrotomophiliac voyeurism, is surprised when the watcher becomes the watched.
Peter, lacking in self-worth, literally begs for physical affection of any sort.
Paul gives his lover ample warning of his impending arrival, so any awkward surprises (see Got to Choose) can be avoided.
Peter turns to drugs, mostly likely the Quaaludes which were prevalent in the 1970s.