KISS WEEK! KISS under kover

Friday, November 20th, 2009 | musiX

KISS has been covered by hundreds of artists in different languages from all over the world on dozens of tribute albums. The short list:

The Smelly Tongues, Garth Brooks, Freddie Frehley, The Melvins, Metallkvartetten, Anthrax, The Hard-Ons, Lenny Kravitz, Motörhead, Aced Out, The Lemonheads, Scooter, Pansy Division, Nashville Pussy, Megadeth, Skin Yard, Pantera, Iced Earth, The Replacements, Clean Cut Plan & the Mobile Whorehouse, Metallica, Ace In the Pole, Maki Nomiya, Skid Row, Hayseed Dixie,  Girlschool, The Donnas, Nirvana, Motorpsycho & Dag Ingebrigtsen, Spaceman Spiff, Death, Golden Showers, Dinosaur Jr., The Moog Cookbook, Kvikksølvguttene, Foo Fighters, Chamarras Negra, Red House Painters, Die Ärzte, No Use For a Name, Gin Blossoms, Good Riddance, Jonah, Metal Morfosis, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, Hellacopters, Entombed, The Huckleberrys, Cher, Tony Gorilla, Hammerfall, Helloween, The Torpedo Girls, Extreme, Scary German Guy, Zeke, Cosmic Dropouts, Poison, Graceland & Dead Joe, and Redd Kross.

Mmm … love that last Kvikksølvguttene record. KISS has done a few covers in its day as well—tapping into some of the early British Invasion records as well as bubble gum pop and punk … even a Disney song. As part of the magic that is KISS WEEK, TDoL brings you all of the songs that KISS made their own … well, they definitely turned a few of them into something all right.

“Kissin’ Time” – Released in 1974 on debut album KISS
Original: Bobby Rydell, 1959

This little ditty didn’t originally appear on the band’s debut, but was added to later pressings when Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart pushed the members of KISS—against their will—to record it in hopes of snagging a hit single. It peaked at No. 79. But it’s a hit single in my book.

“Kissin’ Time”KISS

“Kissin’ Time”Bobby Rydell

“Then She Kissed Me” – Released in 1977 on Love Gun
Original: The Crystals, 1963

KISS swapped genders for this cover of The Crystals’ 1963 hit “Then He Kissed Me,” a song that feels a bit out of place on a record that includes songs with titles like “Plaster Caster” and “Love Gun” (the latter of which, despite popular belief, is not about firearms). The Crystals’ version, of course, was produced by Phil Spector, who is all about firearms.

“Then She Kissed Me”KISS

“Then He Kissed Me”The Crystals

“Anyway You Want It” – Released in 1977, studio side of Alive II
Original: Dave Clark Five, 1964
This cover illustrating Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s proclivity for British Invasion bands. KISS stays pretty true to the original, which is not a bad thing—because the original is real good. I like the vocals on the KISS version, especially Stanley’s “It’s all right!” Should’ve played this one live instead of “Tossin and Turnin’.”

“Any Way You Want It”KISS

“Any Way You Want It”Dave Clark Five

“New York Groove” – Released in 1978 on Ace Frehley’s solo album
Original: Hello, 1975

What would begin a long relationship with British songwriter and Argent frontman Russ Ballard, who penned this song for UK glam rockers Hello in the early ’70s. Frehley’s became a hit and a live staple. He and KISS would go on to cover other Ballard songs in the future, including “Into the Night” and “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You,” which became a Top 10 hit for KISS in the UK and Germany.

“New York Groove”Ace Frehley

“New York Groove”Hello

“Tossin’ and Turnin’” – Released in 1978 on Peter Criss’ solo album
Original: Bobby Lewis, 1961

What, no Gene Krupa covers? Leave it to Peter Criss to take a great rock song and turn it into a funky R&B mess. KISS would later perform the song during the Dynasty tour, improving (slightly) on the cheesy studio version. Actually, let’s just pretend this never happened.

“Tossin’ and Turnin’”Peter Criss

“Tossin’ and Turnin’”Bobby Lewis

“When You Wish Upon a Star” – Released in 1978 on Gene Simmons’ solo album
Original: Pinocchio soundtrack, 1940

Gene Simmons will never live this one down—becoming perhaps the only rock star to ever cover a song by a talking cricket. I hear Jiminy tried to sue Simmons for skipping out on some royalty checks. And that’s just sad.

“When You Wish Upon a Star”Gene Simmons

“When You Wish Upon a Star” – Cliff Edwards, as the voice of Jiminy Cricket (video)

“2000 Man” – Released in 1979 on Dynasty
Original: The Rolling Stones, 1967

One of my favorite KISS covers, peeled from the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request. “2000 Man” is one of three Ace Frehley contributions to Dynasty, a record that showed KISS following the disco trend along with everyone else and their mothers including, coincidentally, The Rolling Stones.

“2000 Man”KISS

“2000 Man”The Rolling Stones

“Is That You?” – Released in 1980 on Unmasked
Original: Gerard McMahon, 1980

Although Peter Criss’ cartoon image appears on the cover, it was actually session/Dave Letterman drummer Anton Fig who played drums on Unmasked, one of KISS’ poppiest records. “Is That You?” kicks off the album, and was recorded after KISS heard the demo from an unknown British singer named Gerard McMahon, whose song “Cry Little Sister” would later appear on the Lost Boys soundtrack.

“Is That You?”KISS

“Is That You?” - Gerard McMahon (video)

“Rock and Roll Hell” – Released in 1982 on Creatures of the Night
Original: Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1979
Not many KISS fans know this is a cover, probably because the two versions sound completely different. Written by Bryan Adams (yes, the Bryan Adams) and Canadian producer Jim Vallance, “Rock and Roll Hell” appeared on BTO’s Rock n’ Roll Nights album and sounded very similar to the band’s hit “Takin’ Care of Business.” Three years later, Gene Simmons added a line, became a co-writer and threw it on Creatures of the Night, ironically one of KISS’ heaviest records.

“Rock and Roll Hell”KISS

“Rock and Roll Hell” - BTO (clip from Jim Vallance’s website)

“God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You II” – Released in 1991 on soundtrack to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey; 1992 on Revenge
Original: Argent, 1973

This became a decent hit for KISS across the pond, originally appearing on the second (and, of course, best) Bill and Ted movie. “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You II” will always be a KISS song to me … just like Keanu Reeves will always be “Ted” Theodore Logan to me.

“God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You II”KISS

“God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You”Argent

“Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?” – Released in 2003 on We’re a Happy Family: A Tribute to The Ramones
Original: The Ramones, 1980

This song works surprisingly well for KISS, and it’s actually one of the best covers on the We’re a Happy Family tribute. I love The Ramones. I love KISS. I love the song. I think KISS should do a cover of “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement.” And perform it live.

“Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?”KISS

“Do You Remember Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio?”The Ramones

In memory of Mark Louis Arnone, Feb. 24, 1973 – Oct. 21, 2009

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2 Comments to KISS WEEK! KISS under kover

Captain Morgan
December 4, 2009

You forgot the Seduced by Suicide cover of “I was Made for Loving You”. Brilliant.

December 5, 2009

“I Was Made For Lovin’ You” has probably been covered the most…usually by European techno groups. Nice to hear a metal version.

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