Out There

KISS rock 'n' roll over again

Detroit Rock City
Detroit Rock City
(Island/Def Jam)

The only thing worse than Ted Nugent is Pantera covering Ted Nugent; Phil Anselmo can cure a boy of "Cat Scratch Fever" real quick (though it does beat his band's titty-bar Dallas Stars anthem). The only thing worse than Thin Lizzy is Everclear covering Thin Lizzy; if "The Boys Are Back in Town," then run for your lives. And Marilyn Manson's "Highway to Hell" sounds as if it was recorded on the access road. The only remarkable thing about Manson's AC/DC "cover" is how utterly soft and bloated and unrecognizable it sounds, thus rendering it nearly impossible for play at topless bars, which is a real shame. Where's P.J. Soles when you really need her? Rock and Roll High School this ain't.

If anything, this soundtrack to the film about a bunch of kids hightailing it to a KISS concert in 1978 offers only the definitive proof that today's rockers don't know dick about rawk. Everclear makes the original -- represented here by "Jailbreak," and bless Phil Lynott's overrated-by-death heart -- sound seminal. And if ever there was tangible evidence that the members of Drain sth need to find real jobs, here's a plodding, torpid "20th Century Boy" as Exhibits A through Z; compare and contrast to Placebo's version from Velvet Goldmine, then ask yourself how these bastards sleep at night. Best songs on a soundtrack released in 1999: Van Halen's "Runnin' With the Devil" (come back, Dave, all is forgiven), Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" (scary then, corny now), Cheap Trick's "Surrender" (like, they got their KISS records out, dude), and David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" (pardon?). Smells like cutout-bin K-Tel.

Leave it to the girls to show the boys how it's done: The Donnas inject the forever-missing strut into KISS' "Strutter," proving once more these four women got more balls than every other cockrocker on this otherwise worthless piece of plastic. Brilliant bit of sequencing, though, following the Donnas with the Runaways ("School Days") -- even if it's hard to tell one from the other. Odd that for a movie about teen obsession with the clown princes of crock and roll, only three KISS contributions appear on Detroit Rock City -- the emasculated "Shout It Out Loud," the obligatory "Detroit Rock City," and "Nothing Can Keep Me Away From You," a co-write with Diane Warren. Here, pap music's Antichrist does for Gene, Paul, Ace, and Peter what she did for Aerosmith on last summer's Armageddon soundtrack: turn them into Kim Carnes. No self-respecting doper would be caught dead listening to such tepid balladry, the likes of which makes "Beth" sound like "White Riot." The KISS resurrection ends right here, right now.

 
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