Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Song of the Day: The Melvins, "Goin' Blind"

Steven Tyler had a great idea this week. Sensing the need to promote a terrible new album and distance himself from the self-parodic, cartoonish image he's earned over the past 20 years, he took care of both causing by going on the radio and insulting KISS.

"KISS is a comic book rock band and they got a couple hits but they're more of a comic book. You see them in their spackled faces," said the former American Idol judge. "It is different: a KISS lick, a Joe Perry lick--two different worlds, and sometimes depending on the time of day get offended. I hear that and I go, 'Yeah, that's alright. Do they really mean it? And what's this all about?'"

Anyone who's been lucky enough to hear Rocks and unfortunate enough to suffer through Just Push Play can tell what he's doing. But for better and worse, he's right. KISS is a comic book band. Still, once upon a time, KISS were a colorful, multi-dimensional, auditory comic books series.

On Hotter than Hell, KISS' second album, they were still figuring out how weird they could be if their ultimate goal was world domination. Thus, they were still brave enough to write and record "Goin' Blind," a plodding depiction of an old man despairingly ending his affair with a young girl. "I'm 93, you're 16/Can't you see I'm going blind?" howls Gene Simmons. Within months, the band sensed that kids would rather get down to "Rock and Roll All Nite," and stopped playing "Goin' Blind."

20 years later, an uncompromising sludge-metal band got a deal with Atlantic Records on Kurt Cobain's behest. The result was Houdini, which included a cover of "Goin' Blind."

The Melvins' version of "Goin' Blind" is darker and more ingratiating than KISS'. King Buzzo and Dale Crover's performances embrace the bizarre elements of the original without any conflicts of trying to be the world's biggest band. But I also like hearing how KISS at their weirdest still sound downright catchy in the hands of the Melvins. A bleak reboot of the original comic book band.

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