Released: 2015, Backbeat Books
This review is special to me for one reason. This is the 2000th review I have written for Metal-Rules.com.
I knew the number 2000 was coming up so I deliberately choose to review something that was significant to me. My very first review for Metal-rules was Viper-THEATER OF FATE all the way back in 2001, the first CD I bought. Then to celebrate my 1000th review (back in 2012) I reviewed Helloween-MASTER OF THE RINGS, the album that rekindled my love for Metal back in 1994. I wanted to write a review of the first album that got me into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal and that album is DESTROYER by Kiss. A quick check of our database showed me that our good friend Lord Of The Wasteland wrote a review of that album way back in 2003. It came down to the new Yngwie Malmsteen album WORLD ON FIRE (which I love) or this book that pays tribute to one of, if not the most important and influential album in my musical development. In the end, nostalgia won out and besides I knew the new Malmsteen was an automatic 5/5 anyway so you can go read my review of that album as well as #2001. So onto my 2000th review…a book review!
March 16,1976 was a monumental day in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal history. Perhaps, without overstating it, one of the most important days ever. That was the day that Kiss released DESTROYER. The album rewrote so many rules and inspired so many Metal artists, that are still active today, that it’s importance cannot be overstated. I’m not at all surprised that on the 40th anniversary of this iconic landmark of an album that there was a book published about the making of DESTROYER.
SHOUT IT LOUD has a long, but appropriate sub-title; “The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon.” The good people at Backbeat decided to give James Campion the green-light to write what is possibly the world’s longest love-letter to any album ever written. This slightly oversized paperback runs 382 pages with about 40 rare photos printed on glossy plates in the middle of the book. It is a good-looking book with lots of good references.
Campion loves DESTROYER. I mean REALLY loves DESTROYER. It is apparent from his introduction that this is his album. He lovingly describes everything about it. Everything. Every song is filtered, dissected explained, musically, sonically, lyrically and especially in terms of production. The whole story is told. After a detailed introductory section, explaining the history of Kiss he takes us up to the creation of DESTROYER. The information in the opening section is not especially new to the die-hard Kiss fan but then the floodgates open. Campion starts with the smallest detail, how they selected the producer, the engineers and everyone else involved and goes into pretty extensive details into their lives as well. There is a quote on the back that says, “I swear, it was like James was right there with me, with all of us in the studio making that incredible album”. Campion interviewed dozens of people several times for a total of hundreds of interviews, practically right down to the janitor discussing who did the dishes i the studio on Tuesdays. That might sound boring but he writes in such a way, that it is fascinating.
The narrative follows rehearsals, song-writing, pre-production, the quirks of Bob Erin, the actual recording in the studio ,the artwork, all the way up to the launch of the album and even the subsequent tour and public reception to the album. Nothing is left to discuss. You know those book in the 33 and one-third series that discuss the making of rock albums? Imagine 10 of those all compiled into one book about one album. Reading this gave me a fully entertaining and totally comprehensive understanding of what it was like, and what it took to create such a masterpiece.
I loved SHOUT IT LOUD, all of it, even the detailed musical/technical sections (which I don’t fully grasp) elaborating on tuning, scores, notation and so on. As I said in my introduction DESTROYER is ‘my’ album, the one that got me into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal all those years ago, one I still enjoy today. There are a lot of books about Kiss out there and I’ve read (and reviewed) most of them, but this is one of the very best. Essential reading for Kiss fans.