Not that anyone ever actually thought about Kiss, those cartoonish kings of mid-’70s teen rock and said, “I wonder how they’d sound in an acoustic set.” But here they are anyway—and making a case that beyond the Kabuki-esque cosmetics, flash-pot fusillades and the guy flicking the reptilian tongue, Kiss was a genuinely accomplished rock band.
This album isn’t so much acoustic as acoustish; there’s plenty of amplification. Nonetheless it is revealing to hear Kiss working with restraint. The group (consisting of the reunited original foursome and musicians who later joined) shows off a breezy mastery of rock essentials, both on Kiss material, such as that anthem of the class of ’75, “Rock and Roll All Nite” (with the three-syllable “I,” as in “I want to…,” intact), and on cover tunes, including an amiable trot through the Rolling Stones’ “2,000 Man.”
This wouldn’t be Kiss, of course, if it were just an album to buy. The CD booklet flogs “Kisstory,” a limited-edition book that weighs nine pounds and measures more than one square foot, according to the enticing ad copy. It is “exclusively offered to you, the Kiss fan!” for just $158.95. Kiss: unplugged but still plugging. (MTV/Mercury)