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Destroyer: an explosion of infernal imagination and Kiss's Sgt. Pepper

Kiss celebrate Destroyer's 45th birthday with a super-deluxe package that includes everything bar the cake

kiss destroyer 45th anniversary deluxe edition box set
(Image: © UMe)

It seems inconceivable that Destroyer is 45 years old. To put that into perspective, if this were 1976 we’d be writing about an album originally released in 1931, a fossilised artefact by Bing Crosby or some such. But, hey, time marches on, even if – unlike Bing – you’re wearing clomping great platform shoes. 

Destroyer was Kiss’s sui generis moment; a sorcerous explosion of infernal imagination. The band’s Sgt Pepper, if you will. The planets aligned and the creative juices didn’t so much flow as cascade, in the manner of a fountain of blood gushing from Gene Simmons’s crimson cakehole. 

There was no sign of such a record coming, especially after the band’s clunky first three studio albums. But then the mind-warping Kiss Alive! punched the clock and set the stage for the New Yorkers’ greatest recorded achievement. (Remarkable to think that Paul Stanley was just 24 when Destroyer was released; Ace Frehley also.)

This anniversary edition comes in various guises, but the one you really, really want is the top-of-the-range super-deluxe edition, retailing via Kiss’s online shop at an entirely reasonable $200 (£146). 

It has more bells and whistles than a Don Partridge convention: four CDs, ear-boggling Blu-ray Audio surround-sound disc mixed by Steven Wilson, 68-page hardcover book, replica 1976 Kiss Army Kit… the kollektibles keep on komin’. 

There’s a total of 73 tracks, 48 of them previously unreleased. Do you really want a mono version of plaintive ballad Beth, an instrumental version of Beth, an instrumental version of Beth (take six) or a cut-and-shut Gene Simmons demo titled Rock ‘N’ Rolls-Royce? Of course you do.

Naturally the core appeal of this gilded codpiece of a package remains the original album, expertly produced by Bob Ezrin, his sonics as lush as The Starchild’s chest rug: the crash-bang-wallop of Detroit Rock City (the best album opener, ever); the stalking menace of King Of The Night Time World and God Of Thunder; the triumphal Flaming Youth; the call-to-arms anthem Shout It Out Loud; the sinister Sweet Pain; the sanguine Great Expectations; the anguished Do You Love Me (complete with perhaps the greatest ‘but!’ of all time)… 

It’s a rocket ride like no other. This writer must have listened to Destroyer 100,000 times and it never ceases to excite, enthral and amaze. As for Wilson’s surround-sound thingy, well suffice to say that by the end of Detroit Rock City you’ll be filing a multi-million-dollar insurance claim for whiplash injury.