Under Cover: Kiss Meet The Rolling Stones in the Year 2000
At one glance, the Rolling Stones and Kiss seem miles apart. One is known for their anti authority, gritty authenticity, the other for it’s crass commercialism and over-the-top presentation. But while the worlds of the two ensembles were distantly related, one song brought those worlds closer and, rather convincingly, made for a great combination.
In 1967, the Rolling Stones had gotten caught up in the whirlwind of changing times, both musically, and culturally. Drugs, and wild sounds flowed evenly throughout that year. Once the Beatles released ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band‘ in June of ’67, all bets were off across the board. The gates had been opened and experimentation was in the air. Often considered to be the Stones ‘answer’ to ‘Pepper,’ ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’ was not your typical Stones record. Many criticized it for being a psychedelic cash in and accused the Stones of chasing the Beatles tail. There are, however, some of us who have always loved the album for it’s brave stepping out of character. One of several highlights on the album was a song called ’2000 Man.’
The fourth track on the album is a wonderful acoustic based number with a futuristic bent. The line, “I am having an affair with a random computer,’ wouldn’t take full realization for a few decades, but the nod was there. The Stones manage to mix in some trademark raunch side by side with the floral drapery here to great effect. The Hammond organ charged bridges are stellar. In retrospect, it really stands as one of the great lost Stones tracks of all time.
It wasn’t, however, lost on everyone. On their 1979 album, ‘Dynasty,’ Kiss pulled off the amazing feat of not only covering the Stones song, but totally remaking it in their own image. Sung by guitarist Ace Frehley, it seems, in many ways, to have been written specifically for him. They skip the acoustic guitars and the Hammond organ bits, instead, supercharging it into what could best be described as a power pop anthem. The whole track surges along as Ace sings the space age tale. The guitar solo soars, Johnny Thunders style, and at that point it’s almost difficult to connect it to the Stones original. Kiss truly made it all their own.
Debate if you wish as to which version is the better, all we can say is each one is stellar and perfectly suited to each band in that style, at that moment in time. The mark of a great song or what?!