It can be easy to overlook the contributions to the music world made by KISS, the rock ‘n roll heroes who once adorned a young Rivers Cuomo‘s bedroom wall. For one thing, Gene Simmons‘ entire life is basically a commercial for Gene Simmons at this point, and even in their heyday, they were never all that popular among critics. But while KISS were never the most musically complex band, they wrote some undeniable anthems that hold up better than most would expect. And the first place to go to find KISS at their absolute best is with 1976’s Destroyer, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this week.
After the massive success of Alive, which presented the songs from KISS’ largely ignored first three albums in an invigorating live setting, the band was going to the studio with actual expectations for the first time in their careers. They had to deliver something that would capture the imaginations of the 13-year-olds who played Alive after school every day. They were more than up to the challenge. Right from the beginning, as the car starts on “Detroit Rock City,” we know we’re in for a thrilling trip. When the song actually starts, we get one of the most instantly memorable album-openers of all-time, as the “GET UP/GET DOWN” chants still resonate in our heads.