Of the many generational gaps and stylistic schisms that fester as rock rolls through its sixth decade--from those who'll forever favor Elvis over the Beatles to those who'd champion Britney over Madonna--none illustrates a more rigid, unforgiveable and unbridgeable divide than the one between the legions who were brainwashed as youth into becoming members of the Kiss Army, seduced by its fire-belching cartoon reduction of true heavy-metal hell-raising, and the rest of us who cannot abide the simplistic stomping, redundant riffing and brain-dead sexism of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and their current greasepaint-wearing cohorts even as satire or a guilty pleasure.
Such is our distaste for these pandering huckster boors that we still hold it against Paul Westerberg and the Replacements for covering "Black Diamond" on the otherwise flawless "Let It Be" (1984).
For us skeptics, it makes perfect sense that for their first album of new Kiss material in 12 years, Simmons (age 60) and Stanley (57) have wound up with an exclusive deal at a big-box retailer that shares its charmless, vulgar, neo-fascistic "bigger is better" aesthetic, neatly summed up here--and repeated for the umpteenth time over the last 35 years--in the new track "Never Enough," which finds Stanley wailing, "Give me life for the takin'/Give me love 'til I'm shakin'/Give me rules just for breakin'/'Cause it's never enough! Never enough! Never enough!"
Actually, it was enough with "Destroyer" way back in 1976, the point at which Bob Ezrin's bombastic melodrama forever blurred inside-joke and shameless self-parody, as the packaging of this release makes clear. In addition to a CD of the 11 new tracks--more titles that tell you all you need to know: "All for the Glory," "Danger Us" and "I'm An Animal"--the bargain-priced three-disc package also includes a live DVD and a greatest-hits collection, though concert staples such as "Detroit Rock City," "Shout It Out Loud" and, yes, "Black Diamond" all have been re-recorded by the unremarkable current lineup completed by Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer and lacking the original "spaceman" guitarist Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, a.k.a. the drummer who sang "Beth," who departed for the most recent times in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
As soggy and soulless as these new renditions of alleged Kiss classics are, even these are preferable to the trite and formulaic new product of the Kiss Corporation circa 2009. Never enough? More like, "Not again--please!"
Kiss performs at the United Center at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 6. Tickets range from $18.50 to $125--with a special "KISS Meet & Greet Experience" priced at $995--via www.ticketmaster.com, (312) 559-1212.