Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fossils: Kiss “Spirit of ‘76” (Destroyer tour)

Kiss Spirit of '76
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Kiss “Spirit of ‘76” (Destroyer tour)

Hard rock legends Kiss were riding high by the time of the American bicentennial. The band’s 1975 live double album Alive! was their highest-charting album to date (#9), earning Gold™ Record status for 500,000+ in sales (no mean feat in the mid-1970s). Their much-anticipated fourth studio album, Destroyer, was released in March 1976 to mixed reviews. Working for the first time with producer Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Lou Reed), the band expanded its sonic palette beyond the simple hard rock of its earlier efforts, a move rejected and/or ridiculed by critics.

The album sold rapidly on the basis of its predecessor’s success, going Gold™ in a month and peaking at #11 on the charts before seemingly topping out at slightly more than 800,000 copies sold. When deejays began playing “Beth,” the B-side of the album’s under-performing third single, “Detroit Rock City,” it reignited the album’s fortunes, “Beth” rising to #7 on the singles chart and pushing the album to double Platinum™ sales. The album’s initial stumble would be redeemed over the band’s lengthy career, with Destroyer becoming known as an influential hard rock/heavy metal effort on the basis of songs like “Detroit Rock City,” “Shout It Out Loud,” and “King of the Night Time World.”

Rather than hype Destroyer on its own, the band’s label – Casablanca Records – chose instead to promote the band’s 1976 tour with opening act Bob Seger with this generic tour dates ad with just a passing nod to Destroyer and the band’s previous albums. Then again, Casablanca didn’t have much faith in the band’s future after the success of Alive! (which made the label a truckload of cash), re-signing them to a two-album deal rather than taking a flyer on their future efforts. The album’s eventual blockbuster status belies Casablanca’s non-committal advertising, and Kiss would part ways with Seger after just a handful of shows during which the Motor City rocker blew the headliners off the stage night after night with a superior (and rockin’) performances.

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