46 years ago: KISS Crank It Up with ‘Rock And Roll Over’

The commercial breakthrough for megastars KISS was the 1976s Destroyer, a smooth polished hard rock album that featured the ballad “Beth”, the band’s most successful single. After its release, the band faced a critical fork in the road. Either they could continue down the road to mainstream success and seek to continue to appeal to their ever-growing fan base, or they could shake up the formula and return to some of the grit and urgency of their first three studio albums and the seminal concert record Alive. After carefully weighing their options, KISS returned to their roots and wrote Rock and Roll Over, which was published on Nov. 11, 1976, less than eight months later Destroyer hit the shelves.

From the bluesy sleaze rock of the opening track “I Want You” to the rough, melodic pop of “Hard Luck Woman” – featuring drummer vocals Peter CrissRock and Roll Over is an everyman’s journey through the band’s two most prized elements: girls and kicking ass.

To give the album the spirit and echo of a live show, producer Eddie Kramer recorded Criss’ drums in a bathroom, with the artist connected to his bandmates via a video conference link. The rest of the group followed from the stage at the Star Theater in Nanuet, New York.

KISS, “Hard Luck Woman”

With a more immediate sound, KISS could present infectious rock songs, including “Take Me” and “Ladies Room” without sacrificing the raw power the band strived for. To maintain their superhero image, KISS hired artist Michael Doret to create the iconic cover, which featured cartoon heads of the four band members in facial makeup inside a circular ring of lightning. Each musician appears as a deity. Gene Simmons‘ hair burns and his snake tongue curls out lasciviously. Criss has a force field around his head; Ace Frehley shoots laser beams from the eyes and Paul Stanley sports what appear to be orange wings. KISS hired Doret again to design the cover for the 2009s Sonic Boom.

Like many of their early albums, KISS recorded Rock And Roll Over in less than two months. Released at the peak of the band’s popularity, the album entered the Billboard album chart at No. 11, thanks in part to the singles “Hard Luck Woman” and “Calling Dr. Love.” Stanley originally wrote the former with the intention of giving it to Rod Stewart, which would undoubtedly have turned it into a top hit. But Simmons convinced Stanley to keep the song for KISS, so Stanley gave it to Criss, and the track became a Top 20 song on the singles chart. “Calling Dr. Love” fared even better, peaking at No. 16 on Billboard diagram. Simmons wrote the song at a Holiday Inn in Evansville, Indiana, and the title was inspired by a hospital intercom announcement in the Three Stooges movie Men in black.

KISS, “Calling Dr. Love”

Rock and Roll Over went platinum jan. 5, 1977, a good three months after publication. The album was released at the height of KISS’s popularity and the members were able to capitalize on a range of merchandise, their loyal KISS Army fan club and pyrotechnic concerts that upped the ante of what the band was capable of on stage.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legendsco-author of Louder Than Hell: Metal’s Definitive Oral Historyas well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthraxand Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, The Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.

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