Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Rock and roll over and over again

When my younger brother Paul and I were kids we were gonzo KISS fans, coming of age right at the band's mid- to late-1970s peak. Alas, we could never seem to pool enough allowance money together to be able to afford memberships in the coveted KISS Army—the perks of which taunted us from the advertising inserts in Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun, and KISS Alive II—but we were true fans, young enough to giddily, innocently enjoy the stomping riffs and cartoon camp, but old enough to reckon with our disappointment and skepticism the morning after the broadcast of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. (I finally jumped ship after Dynasty, Paul stuck it out through Music from "The Elder," God bless him.) When Paul moved out of our parents' house a few years after I did, he took with him our KISS albums—first into Washington D.C, then out to San Francisco, then over to Manhattan, and finally to Berlin, where he lives and cranks them to this day.

So I've been lately restocking my KISS albums on vinyl. I recently re-purchased Rock And Roll Over, the band's 1976 follow-up to their career-making Destroyer, and was looking forward to seeing the above, a drawing of the album cover rendered by some nameless besotted kid. "Includes awesome crayon drawing of album cover from previous owner, didn't want to split them up :)," the Discogs seller wrote, and that sold me. What I love about this drawing, in addition to its gleefully amateur quality, is its agelessness: I don't know when this drawing was made. Sometime in the '00s, '90s, '80s? 70s? The charming, school-notebook lined paper isn't terribly old, I don't think—no yellowing, no brittleness—but it might've been lovingly preserved. I'm guessing that it was recently made, but I'm not sure. I could send it over to forensics, but I'd rather have fun imagining. I'm terribly charmed, moved even, at the excitement that KISS brought—brings—to kids, and that I can't date this drawing to a particular decade. There's no time- or date-stamp detail, and that's the point: for all of KISS' of-the-era 70s bombast, there's something eternal about their appeal to kids who are running up to their teen years, hungry for the band's blend of comic book energy and theatrical spectacle. I can rock out to "I Want You" now as I did when I was eleven, and somewhere the eleven-year old who lovingly drew this is rocking out too. Or was, and is now looking back. Smiles down the decades. 

I just hope that he or she doesn't miss the drawing too much. Hey if you drew it and you're reading this, message me. I'll get it back to you. It deserves to be in the hands of its owner, no matter how old he or she is, or isn't.

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