From the Stacks

From The Stacks: KISS – Love Gun

KISS Love Gun frontKISS’s sixth LP was the beginning of the end for the world’s biggest band. This was the last studio album recorded entirely by the original lineup, and the first featuring an Ace Frehley vocal.

Destroyer cover artist Ken Kelly was back for another superheroic painting, but even as a KISS-obsessed kid I was more impressed with the marble columns than the figures. For some reason my young mind thought the women looked like the Supremes, and Ace’s head was too small.

Overall the music didn’t grab me, either. I loved “Shock Me” not only because Ace was my guy but because it was based on the harrowing brush with death my buddy Joey told me about. Never mind the truth of Ace’s electrocution — the childhood exaggeration was much better. “I Stole Your Love” was pretty hot, too:

But most of the tracks felt gimmicky to me, like their cover of The Crystals 1963 girl group classic “Then He Kissed Me,” or the ode to mega-groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster who, by the way, never plaster-casted her way through the KISS dressing room. “Christine Sixteen” returned the band to the underaged romance introduced a few year earlier in “Going Blind,” but without the weirdness.

Paul Stanley often cites Love Gun’s title track as his favorite KISS song, and the band never leaves it out of their live set. Not only did the cut lend its name to the album, but it also inspired what’s become one of the rarest inserts in KISS records: the toy love gun, pictured below.

Gene’s “Almost Human” is a pretty cool bit of Demon mythology. The track exudes as much creepy menace as a Hammer film:

Overall, it’s an album that’s essential listening only as a sentimental favorite to those former Guys In Black Tee Shirts Who Jam who misspent their youths jamming along on tennis racquet guitars. As a collectable, though, looking for a copy with the original inserts is worth your time. Find one in nice condition with both the mailer and the love gun still inside and you’re looking at 50-100 bucks. Happy hunting.

2 replies »

  1. Yeah, not my favorite KISS album. And I totally disagree with Stanley. “Love Gun” is one of my least favorite KISS songs. But the album does include one of my all-time favorites, “Shock Me”. And you included the videos of my other album favorites, “Almost Human” and “I Stole Your Love”. It’s too bad the album cut of “Tomorrow and Tonight” wasn’t as good as the live version on Alive ll.


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