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October 07, 1987 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Page 8 -The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, October 7, 1987
Records

Kiss
Crazy Nights
PolyGram
Today it would be difficult
defending Kiss as the hottest band in
the world. But back in the days of
monkey bars, sack lunches, and
cooties, I played my Kiss albums
when I wanted the best and, dammit,
I got the best.
Kiss was the ultimate in rock 'n'
roll glitter - no one even came
close. Masqueraded by makeup and
elevated by high heels, the fiery
(even fire breathing) foursome
literally exploded - with the help of
flash pots - into rock 'n' roll
stardom and into the minds of dirty
faced adolescents. The band was
highly visual before there was MTV,
mostly due to their somewhat self-
indulgent tendencies. There were the
comic books, miniature dolls, Kiss
Army, and the made for T.V. movie
Kiss Meets the Phantom. This
flamboyant showmanship and Gene
Simmon's monster tongue were un-
derstandably not for everyone,

especially hard core rockers. But if
not taken too seriously their whole
image was obnoxiously fun as were
their lyrics. And the music wasn't
bad, either.
The Kiss I grew up with is long
gone; just like Slime and my Evel
Knievel stunt van. Fortunately I can
look back on the later and smile,
recalling fond childhood memories.
However, with Kiss, I must put up
with mediocre releases from today's
version of the band - minus the
glitter, minus the make up, and
minus originality. Only two of the
founding members remain intact.
Gone is Peter Criss and his
elevating, thirteen piece drum set.
Gone is Ace Frehley, lead guitar.
This is why I have problems
with their latest lackluster release,
Crazy Nights. The band's sound is
nothing new and often resembles
Loverboy with former starman Paul
Stanley's vocals sounding like Mike
Reno in a pair of red leather pants
that are to snug in the crotch. The
album's first track, "Crazy, Crazy,
Nights" is a bland, back patting

anthem with Paul Stanley preaching
"This is my music, it makes me
proud/these are my people and this is
my crowd." And this is from the guy
who once told us to shout it out
loud? Ouch.
At times, though, the lyrics are
so ridiculously pompous that they
conjure up images of the mock
heroic rock band Spinal Tap.
Although it falls short of Kiss
classics like "C'mon and Love Me,"
"Dr. Love," "Love Gun," and
"Christine Sixteen," "Bang Bang
You" delivers a male chauvanist pig-
headed message that is delivered in
the exaggerated, cocksure manner
Kiss fans are accustomed to. In the
song's opening line Paul Stanley
boasts "My love is like a
cannonball/I'm takin' aim and your
gonna fall" before the now makeup-
less machos break into the chorus
"I'm gonna bang, bang you/I'll
shoot you down with my love gun
baby."
Love gun. Hmmm. Maybe the
band is missing the old Kiss, too.
-Brian Bonet

On their new album, 'Crazy Nights,'Kiss continues to sport their new, lackluster image - minus facial makeup and
minus all the glitter.

Books

4

Town Smokes
By Pinckney Benedict
Ontario Review Press
$9.95/softcover
With the debut publication of
Town Smokes, a slender yet rugged
collection of nine short stories
penned by Pinckney Benedict, the
literary world has been graced with
the sacred benediction of a genuine,
country bred talent.
Benedict, a mere 23 years of age,
whose rustic style and lyrically ver-
nacular language is heavily redolent
of the late, great Southern prodigy
Breece D'J Pancake, writes with a
vernal yet authoritative voice that
writers twice his age strive to
possess. Raised on a dairy farm in
West Virginia, Benedict draws from
experiences of this agrestic locale

and, in his own sort of folksy prose,
depicts a South that makes the
setting of Buford T. Pussett's
Walking Tall look like a
romanticized postcard-portrait of
Redneck County.
In these nine nicely balanced
stories of crawdad cooking, pit-dog
fighting, and hog and snake hunting,
where Bible pages are used more as
cigarette papers than for personal
revelation, Benedict, with keen
insight and vividly detailed, mind-
probing perceptions, lures the reader
into his storytelling vehicle with his
"down home" voice and then plunges
you on a heart-riveting, hog-in-heat
wild rollercoaster hell-ride through
harsh Southern terrain unfit for even
the bravest of souls. Rusted out cars
hunched up on cinder blocks, rabid,
rovering, yellow-eyed dogs, trailer
homes, and moonshine stills are

some of the common elements of
the junkyard decor portrayed in
Benedict's masculine county-culture.
Benedict doesn't refrain from
telling it like it is, and his narrations
are often written in dispassionately
frigid tones that coerce you into a
state of grave discomfort. In "All
The Dead," the strongest story in
this collection, a young man,
Adonijah, casually comments on the
death of his father who got caught in
a rampant crossfire of bullets: "A
state trooper name of J.W. Davis
shot my daddy in the face with his
Colt .38 Special and killed him dead
as hell...From what I hear he was a
good-looken man before he got shot
but mebbe not too good when it
come to thinken quick."
The characters found in Town
Smokes come from working class
farming families. Many of them

work in factories, hog farms, and
slaughterhouses.; most of them have
strong penchants for violence, which
is instilled at a tender age as is
indicative in Cates, the young
narrator of the opening piece, "The
Sutton Pie Safe," a coming of age
story where he informs us: "I loved
the crack of the gun, the smell of
sulphur from the opened breech."
Guns and knives are carried around
like pocket change, and are, without
a moment's hesitation, employed as
convincing means of protection and
persuasion. Characters such as these,
whose actions and trigger fingers
speak louder than words, dominate
Town Smokes.
Yet Benedict's characters should
not be rendered as callous, hard-
shelled cretins, for beneath their
tough exteriors lies a deeply rooted
sense of Southern empathy. As in
"Dog," a story in which the main
character, a man haunted by a
moaning dog that has crawled

beneath his trailer home to die,
solves both his and the dog's
dilemma by putting the canine out
of its misery. After inflicting the
fatal wound with a .45 caliber pistol,
the man lies there enviously eyeing
the dead dog, musing to himself:
"Didn' have nobody in the world to
take up for you, did you." Sentiment
such as this, although not volting
with emotion, resides in the hearts
of Benedict's hardy, fully fleshed out
characters.

Pinckney Benedict has been
blessed with the divine gift of
storytelling. Town Smokes
introduces us to a fresh new talent,
an original voice, that deserves
attention. Benedict has a bright
future and this collection, in due
time, will be, or at least should be,
recognized as one of the most
memorable debuts of the eighties.
-Peter Markus

4

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