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Hotter Than Hell

Hotter Than Hell (1974) is the second album from the rock group Kiss.

The album

Move to Los Angeles

The production team of Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise, who had produced the group's first album, was chosen for the follow up. Since the pair had relocated to Los Angeles, Kiss flew there to work with them. The band, all native New Yorkers, immediately developed a dislike for their new surroundings. Paul Stanley's guitar was stolen his first day in Los Angeles.

The music

Musically, Hotter Than Hell is darker than the band's first album. This is partly due to the murkier production values, but also to the lyrical content of some of the songs. "Goin' Blind," which details a doomed romance with an underage girl, was a song written by Gene Simmons and Stephen Coronel during Wicked Lester's existence. The original title was "Little Lady."

"Comin' Home", co-written by Stanley and Ace Frehley, summed up the band's feelings about being in Los Angeles:

Oh girl, it seems the whole wide world seems to say
Hotels that all look the same
Just seem to drive me insane
But I can't get away
Until I receive a call that tells me that will be all
And then I hop a plane

Hotter Than Hell featured far more overdubs than the first album. While Kerner and Wise wanted to produce a record that captured Kiss as a live act, they decided to take advantage of the experience the band had gained as recording artists.

Although the album featured two songs penned solely by Frehley, he did not sing on either one of them. His lack of confidence in his singing abilities at the time led to lead vocal duties for "Parasite" and "Strange Ways" going to Gene Simmons and Peter Criss, respectively.

Photography session

The album is also known for its striking cover: the front featured Japanese manga-influenced artwork, and the back cover showed individual band shots taken by Norman Seeff at a wild party, and a composite of all four band members' makeup designs. Everyone present at the session (with the exception of Simmons) was drunk for the entire photography session. Stanley was so drunk he had to be locked in his car. Paul's drunken state can easily be seen on the album's front cover as it appears Peter Criss is holding him up while Paul holds onto Peter's leg.

The Japanese character on the bottom of the album cover (力) is chikara, which means "power." It would later be used on various forms of Kiss material during the 1970s and 1980s, most prominently on Eric Carr's drum kit.

The Japanese on the top-right corner of the album cover (地獄 の さけび) is jigoku no sakebi, which means "Hell's shout" or "The shout of hell."

Ace Frehley's image on the front cover is actually airbrushed, as a side of his face was injured in a car accident and was without makeup on the afflicted area at the time of the photo shoot. Also, the Japanese characters used for Ace's name pronounces it wrong. The characters are エイス フューリ (eisu fyuuri), which would translate to "Ace Fury." The characters should have been エイス フリーリ (eisu furiiri).

A commercial disappointment

Despite the intense touring schedule Kiss maintained in 1974, Hotter Than Hell failed to outperform the band's first album. In fact, it did considerably worse. This was due partly to the fact that Casablanca Records' distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records had ended. The publicity push behind the album was not nearly what it was for Kiss. One notable exception was a television commercial aired to promote the album. The only single released from the album, "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll," was distributed in low numbers and failed to chart. Less than three months after the album was released, Kiss was called back into the studio to record a follow up. Hotter Than Hell was certified Gold on June 23, 1977, when it sold 500,000 copies.

Track listing

  1. "Got to Choose" (Paul Stanley) – 3:52
    • Lead vocals – Paul Stanley
  2. "Parasite" (Ace Frehley) – 3:03
    • Lead vocals – Gene Simmons
  3. "Goin' Blind" (Gene Simmons, Stephen Coronel) – 3:34
    • Lead vocals – Gene Simmons
  4. "Hotter Than Hell" (Stanley) – 3:30
    • Lead vocals – Paul Stanley
  5. "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll" (Stanley, Simmons) – 2:16
    • Lead vocals – Gene Simmons
  6. "All the Way" (Simmons) – 3:17
    • Lead vocals – Gene Simmons
  7. "Watchin' You" (Simmons) – 3:45
    • Lead vocals – Gene Simmons
  8. "Mainline" (Stanley) – 3:50
    • Lead vocals – Peter Criss
  9. "Comin' Home" (Frehley, Stanley) – 2:37
    • ''Lead Vocals – Paul Stanley
  10. "Strange Ways" (Frehley) – 3:20
    • Lead vocals – Peter Criss

Personnel

Production

  • Kenny Kerner – producer
  • Richie Wise – producer
  • Warren Dewey – engineer
  • Norman Seeff – photography, art direction
  • John Van Hamersveld – design, art direction
  • Joseph M. Palmaccio – remastering

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