Kiss – Destroyer – Resurrected! (review)

Kiss – Destroyer – Resurrected (Mercury) review

Widely-regarded as their best studio album, Destroyer gets a new coat of paint, courtesy of original producer Bob Ezrin

Destroyer – Resurrected is the band’s 1976 album remixed from the multi-track tapes by original producer Ezrin.  Right off, the drums and bass guitar are louder, there are different effects on the vocals, and little differences on each song (for instance, there’s a loud shout at the end of “Shout it Out Loud”).  While purists will howl in detest, this is not meant to replace the original version, but to give the album a little more of a modern sound.

This can be dangerous territory – change things too much and you lose the spirit of the classic record.  But, Ezrin was part of this album’s creation and his new mixes are sympathetic to the originals.  Take “Detroit Rock City” – the car sound effects are more modern, there are “get up, get down” backing vocals that weren’t in the original, and the car crash at the end really sounds like a BIG crash.  “Do You Love Me” has bigger drums, louder backing vocals at the end, and the piano and bells near the close of the song are a lot more prominent.  “Beth,” the band’s breakthrough hit, features an acoustic guitar throughout the song that was mixed out of the released version.  On “God of Thunder” you can really hear what the kids are saying throughout the track.

Unbelievably, the cracks in the Kiss armor were already beginning in 1976 – evidenced by the one “bonus track” – a version of “Sweet Pain” containing an early guitar solo from Ace Frehley, while the one that made the final album was actually played by Alice Cooper guitarist Dick Wagner (rumor has it that Ace didn’t want to interrupt a card game to actually give the solo a second try).  While Ace’s solo is okay, you can see why they wanted to redo it.

The one odd aspect of Destroyer – Resurrected is that originally it was billed as a two-disc set containing demos as well as these remixes.  Some of the tracks that could’ve been included in this set are the Peter Criss rocker “Ain’t None of Your Business,” the demo for “God of Thunder” (featuring Paul Stanley), the acoustic version of “Beth” (heard in Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park), and the highly-edited single mix of “Detroit Rock City.”  Why it was whittled down to a single disc is a little baffling.

This is certainly not the first time Kiss has tinkered with their back catalog.  In fact, they were one of the pioneers of this type of thing – 1978”s Double Platinum was made up primarily of remixed greatest hits.  The band chose to change some of the songs because their first two albums were very poorly recorded.  Perhaps, if this new Destroyer – Resurrected is successful, we could see those early albums receive the same treatment as well.

In interviews for the new set, leader Gene Simmons has made a big deal of the album artwork – this is supposedly the original cover that was deemed “too violent” for consumers at the time.  In reality, it’s not that big of a change – it’s a brown background instead of the classic blue, and the band is dressed in the Alive! costumes, which were changed when they upgraded for the Destroyer tour.  As far as the “violent” cover – there is remnants of a city laid to waste, perhaps a big deal in the Seventies – not really that shocking now.

The big question, of course, is “is this worth picking up”?  Well, that all depends.  If you know this album front and back, you’ll have fun hearing all the little differences in this new mix.  If you’re only a casual fan, you’re not going to really be able to tell much of a difference.  However, if you don’t already own a copy of this album, this is still representative of the original spirit and is worth grabbing.  And, it sure sounds great, even through earbuds.  –Tony Peters