Going For A Song: ‘God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II’

Kiss – God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II

This version of ‘God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You’ by Kiss ticks a few boxes for me. It’s bound up with a memory I won’t bother you with here; it’s one of those song about, and extolling the virtues of, rock ‘n’ roll; and it’s also a cover song which does something quite different from the original. It‘s not a difference immediately obvious as it is with Devo’s cover of the Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’, but there are small elements in Kiss’s version that set it apart, and indeed above, the original Argent version. And with the addition of that preposterous II at the end of the song title I think those involved in the record recognised it as well.

In the Argent original, after the intro, there is a lengthy guitar solo before the chorus enters. Kiss truncates this solo and get straight to the chorus (why hide the best bit a minute in). The organ is also absent in Kiss’s version. I’m not saying the organ cannot be rock ‘n’ roll, but in a song about Rock ‘N’ Roll the guitars really need to be pushed to the front. Luckily Kiss understood this and do exactly that.

This doesn’t mean Kiss’s version is all bluster and no subtlety. The section where it breaks down to just guitar and harmonies is a good example of where it‘s more subtle, more thought out than Argent’s. Within Kiss’s harmonies I can hear a greater nod towards that rock ‘n‘ roll instigated by The Beatles and the Beach Boys in the sixties. And there‘s also another nod, with the slightly (purposefully I‘d contend) over the top spoken outro, to girl groups such as The Shangri-Las.

So when this song was on the radio yesterday, it felt it a bit odd when the DJ said you don’t hear that “on this radio station very often”. They may be right, but you can hear Kiss’s influence on a band such as Super Furry Animals (‘For Now and Ever’ off their first album, and not just because of the spoken outro); and SFA are a band you hear plenty of on this specific station. And if you don’t credit this link between the two bands, well, then I point to SFA’s propensity for dressing up for gigs and their elaborate stage presentation. It‘s not such a great leap from that to Kiss and ‘God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II’.

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