The publication of Paul Stanley’s memoir, Face the Music: A Life Exposed, completed the set: Each of KISS’s original four members has put his story out there. I’ve read them all, and Paul Stanley’s is by far the best.
Sure, there are moments of ego and debauchery, but what makes the Starchild’s memoir so good is that for the most part he drops the Starchild facade. Instead, we watch a misfit kid grow into a misfit man and eventually get it together. It’s really a great read.
For music nerds a peek behind the scenes always goes down a treat, and Stanley takes the time to give a nod to a few of the songs that inspired him. Listening to the originals and his final compositions offers some interesting insight into a songwriter who after 40 years of success and a recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame still doesn’t get the respect he’s earned.
Are you ready to rock? Now I know you can do better than that. I said, are you ready to rock? Let’s do it:
(All of the following quotes are from Face the Music: A Life Exposed)
“Fire Brigade,” The Move.
“Firehouse,” KISS. “When I heard ‘Fire Brigade,’ I loved the concept. So I sat down and began to hash out a song of my own using the same idea.” Paul was 16 when he wrote this KISS favorite.
“Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do),” Boomerang / Wilson Pickett.
“Got to Choose,” KISS. Stanley first heard Boomerang’s version of the Wilson Pickett classic at Electric Lady Studios, and was inspired to write “Got to Choose”: “One evening they had been running off copies on the two-track machine of an album by Boomerang. They were a blue-eyed soul unit made up of Mark Stein from Vanilla Fudge along with a couple of other guys.”
“All Right Now,” Free.
“Hotter Than Hell,” KISS. “I wrote [‘Hotter Than Hell’] in L.A. It was an homage of sorts to ‘All Right Now’ by Free and started with the same basic premise—meeting a woman.”
“Dance to the Music,” Sly and the Family Stone.
“Rock and Roll All Night,” KISS. “[Casablanca label head Neil Bogart said] ‘You need a song that your fans can rally behind—that states your cause. Something Like Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Dance to the Music.’ You want to get people pumping their fists and joining in’….Pretty quickly I came up with the chords and a few lines for a chorus: ‘I want to rock and roll all night and party every day.”
“Maggie May,” Rod Stewart.
“Brandy,” Looking Glass.
“Hard Luck Woman,” KISS. “I had been listening to Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’ and ‘You Wear It Well’…and decided to try my hand at something similar. The lyrical spark came from…a song called ‘Brandy’ by Looking Glass, that was about a sailor’s daughter who worked at a bar.”
“The Hunter,” Albert King.
“Love Gun,” KISS. “I stole the idea of a ‘love gun’ from Albert King’s version of ‘The Hunter,” which Zeppelin also nicked from for ‘How Many More Times’ on their first album.”
****SUPER DELUXE SIDE FOUR AND WE’RE OUT OF MATERIAL BONUS TRACK****
“Any Way You Want It,” The Dave Clark Five.
“Anyway You Want it,” KISS. “[Kiss Alive II] took up just three sides of a double album, not four….We decided to add a side of studio tracks….’Anyway You Want It’ was a Dave Clark Five song I’d always loved, and Gene loved it, too. The original 1964 version is cataclysmic—just huge. Ours didn’t come close, but we needed to fill up that final side of the record.”