Love Gun

Love Gun

Kiss’ sixth studio album isn’t the pinnacle of the band’s double-entendre use—that would come in the 1980s—but it’s close. As critic Charles M. Young pointed out in his 1977 Rolling Stone review of Love Gun, guitarist Paul Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons use “love” as a euphemism for “my dick.” Not on opener “I Stole Your Love,” though: That would just be weird. But it’s one of the band’s last truly hard-rocking songs of the 1970s, and you can absolutely hear what Stanley meant when he said it was inspired by Deep Purple’s “Burn.” Driven by a honky-tonk piano and a James Gang-like guitar hook, “Christine Sixteen” is pure Simmons lechery. “I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age,” he leers in the song’s spoken-word underscore, “But when I saw you coming out of the school that day, I knew I’ve got to have you.” Rapper Tone Loc sampled the guitar for his 1989 hit “Funky Cold Medina,” but the original song’s lyrics have not aged well. Though guitarist Ace Frehley had written many Kiss songs by this point, “Shock Me” is the first one he sang himself. Lyrics rhyming “black leather” with “we can come together” cloak a reference to the terrifying 1976 incident in which Frehley was electrocuted onstage in Florida. “Tomorrow and Tonight,” meanwhile, was apparently written to recapture the endless party vibe of the band’s breakthrough live hit “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Though it might be a better song, Kiss didn’t play it live until 2017. As for the title track? It remains one of the most thinly veiled penis metaphors in rock history: “No place for hiding, baby/No place to run/You pull the trigger of my love gun,” Stanley sings with unbridled enthusiasm. In his autobiography, he cops to lifting some of the lyrics (and the “love gun” euphemism) from Albert King’s 1967 blues creeper “The Hunter.” Drummer Peter Criss sings lead on “Hooligan,” a 1960s-style greaser tune he wrote with his former Chelsea bandmate Stan Penridge (it’s one of his final lead vocal performances for Kiss, as Love Gun is the last album on which Criss plays on every song). And with a stun-gun riff and slinky groove—not to mention werewolf lyrics and angelically creepy backing vocals—“Almost Human” is one of the most unique songs in the Kiss catalog, having been written by Simmons, a comic book aficionado. It’s followed by “Plaster Caster,” a clever upbeat pop tune that recounts the exploits of legendary groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster, who made and collected plaster casts of rock star genitalia. Of course, Simmons wrote that one as well.

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