Upon further review I have come to the conclusion that KISS‘s “All For The Love of Rock & Roll” should have gone straight to number #1. It was, and still is, the new old school KISS rock & roll song that might have hit pay dirt on radio, or at least had a shot. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if a song by the (new) drummer in the band would have again propelled KISS on radio like back in 70’s when the boys broke. Who-da-thunk?
“Hell or hallelujah”, the single from Monster, was heavy and cool and yeah a return to form on some levels but a bit heavy and rugged for mainstream radio. Not that anyone in radio would throw their arms open to a new KISS single. KISStorians know better. I can’t help but wonder if Eric Singers rock & roll semi-masterpiece wouldn’t have caught a few ears off guard, like the band was able to do with “Hard Luck Woman” and “Beth” for that matter. Slight of hand, twist of fate….the grand illusion. Is that Rod Stewart dude? Our the chameleon heroes KISS, ever-courting the main stream, really may have a fairly obvious sharp play here.
“I hitched a ride on a train going nowhere, got 50 bucks in the bank, ain’t a lot of dough, but when you know the feeling, ….well it feels allright” – ERIC SINGER
Don’t get me wrong, I know that classic rock radio, or classic rock stations, have a playlist with little room for newbies, regardless the band. Sure, when they make the rounds on tour or with record release promo ‘phoners’ the stations will offer up a few spins of ‘the new single’ but little else. I am not saying there aren’t great stations playing great new music but the double edge sword of being a house hold name relegates one to the highly cherished label of classic and, unfortunately, its a grave yard out there. Ask ACDC, the Stones, Sting, ZZ Top, Metallica …new offerings will find no quarter on radio.
This track may have broken the mold though because A – it’s a dynamite chorus, B – Eric’s a dynamite singer and C – it sounds immediately familiar without being a rip-off.
The track also has, in my opinion, Eric Singer’s best rock & roll drum track to date. Sure, he’s killed shit on heavier, more metal based stuff with the band but I always felt he lacked that “swing” Gene talks about when speaking of Peter Criss. Here Eric sounds like a looser, more sympathetic Carmine Appice.
Want to do an easy test to find out what songs is really ‘rock & roll’ or not? Grab a couple toddlers and pop on Bill Haley’s “Rock & Around The Clock” or Elvis’s “Hound Dog” or the Stones’ “It’s Only Rock & Roll” or Rod’s “Hot Legs” or Led Zeps’ “Rock & Roll” or any Chuck Berry song —- they will dance. This tune has a similar quality, like my childhood fave “What’s Your Name?” by Skynyrd.
Back to Singer: I was at a KISS convention in Chicago once and Eric Singer was there. I got to ask him a question from the perspective of a drummer and it was: “Eric, what staple KISS live tune was the most difficult for you to play, or get down?” He paused briefly, tilted his head looking skyward and laughed: “you know what, I’ve never really thought about it ……and it’s weird because I wouldn’t have thought so going in since I’ve heard the song a million times, even before joining the band ……but the hardest one was “Rock & Roll All Night”. He didn’t elaborate and I was like (in me ‘ed) “jeez, that’s not good”.
If “All For The Love of Rock & Roll” is any indication, Eric is definitely officially in the NY groove. Some of the bass-snare-tom triplets and subtle snare work on this song show a side of Eric we haven’t heard much of since his world-class performances on MTV Unplugged. Maybe laying back, as he had to then, and does on “All For The Love…” suits him better than the harder edge, double-bass acrobatics that got his name out there in the 80’s?
After Eric Carr passed away KISS would need a real pounder and Eric fit the bill because he drives the beat. When you play drums in one of mother earths loudest band, subtle snare taps and rolls get lost in the din but as todays KISS devolves ever closer to its original vibe, Singer’s true rock & roll leanings appear to be finally coming out “Mommy Big-time” as Gene would say. Metal is more linear while rock & roll is more flow and I now realize how well Singer bridges between Peter Criss and Eric Carr. He’s more versatile than either and that well-honed skill is why he’s played and recorded with so many artists. In KISS, he combines the best of the chippy veteran Criss and the bombastic late great Carr to put his own stamp on the KISS music brand.
I know it’s too late but I see a really cool intentionally sepia-scaled video for the tune all about Eric growing up: imagine grainy 30 millimeter clips of a kid with his first kit smiling back at the camera then shifting to bar scenes of a younger Singer “draggin’ home his drums”….basically a highly 70’s-stylized documentary feel. Heck, maybe even include a ‘re-enactment’ of him at that famed show in Cleveland as a kid when he climbed up into one of the ‘opera booths’ during a KISS show and got tossed from the venue… and then, at the end, I see Eric walking to the stage, twirling his sticks and singing the chorus to the camera, in full Catman gear. As a PR masterstroke they could even intersperse classic clips of Peter, the original ‘Catman’, because it’s a cool story that might find ‘feel-good’ traction. Like Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer is ‘rock soldier’ who made damn sure he was ready when the KISS Army came calling, “All For The Love of Rock & Roll”.