40 Years Ago: Kiss Release ‘Hotter than Hell’
Halloween came early for Kiss fans in 1974 — on October 22nd, to be precise, in the form of ‘Hotter than Hell,’ the sophomore album from New York’s outrageously costumed and face-painted hard rockers.
Still a relatively unknown proposition at the time, Kiss had unveiled their eponymous first album only six months earlier, and though it turned some heads and arched some brows, its modest sales in no way suggested the decades of successes that lay ahead.
Instead, Kiss members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss still had to convince both consumers, and the rock and roll establishment in general, that their striking image and powerful heavy rock sound was more than a passing novelty — and ‘Hotter than Hell’ would be their vehicle.
Or would it?
Right from the start, the album’s recording was marked by difficulties — most of them centering on the band’s relocation to Los Angeles, where the production team of Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise (also responsible for Kiss’ first album) was then based. It would seem the duo were still coming to grips with the equipment at Village Recorders, if ‘Hotter than Hell’s’ famously lacking production was any indication.
“We hoped to remedy the sonic deficiencies we found in the first album,” Stanley explains in ‘Kiss: Behind the Mask.’ “We were never as rock-’n’-rolly or good-timey as we sounded on that album. We were much heavier live. So [for ‘Hotter than Hell’] we tried to capture sonically how we sounded live. Unfortunately, the people that we were working with might not have been the right people to be doing it with.”
To make matters worse, Stanley’s guitar was stolen on their first day in town and Kiss’ record label, Casablanca, were too busy trying to stay in business to offer much hand-holding. Plus, the pastrami on rye at Canter’s Deli simply didn’t taste like the one back home in New York.
Yet not even all of these problems could deter the recording of numerous bona fide future Kiss classics like ‘Got to Choose,’ ‘Let Me Go, Rock ’n’ Roll’ and the title cut, which went on to enjoy years of fan acclaim in concert.
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