Suggested listening: “Sleeping On The Sidewalk” by Queen (vocals by Brian May)
Every band eventually turns into Kiss if they have enough success. Cash-ins, repackaged content in new or old formats that are suddenly fashionable again. Box sets, coffee table books, overpriced tickets to amphitheatre shows to hear soundalike renditions of the classics. Greatest hits, greatest zits, tits, fits and your very own Monopoly game.
Some of these tchotchkes are endearing. Maybe the best thing Kiss ever did was their innovations in the pinball machine industry. For years, the Flaming Lips sustained the gummy bauble industry.
But it’s all tchotchkes. Kiss pinball machines, Queen Monopoly games and books of 3D photography, Flaming Lips gummy brains, Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie charging Fleetwood Mac ticket prices for a tour with no Stevie Nicks, while Stevie charges likewise for a solo tour, Revolver and Pet Sounds on 180-gram vinyl at your local shoppe for $25.99 or six concerts with a near identical setlist on a thumb drive with a shitty costume packed in. They’re all tchotchkes in the end. If only Malcolm McLaren understood that, then he’d have died on a bed of gold bricks.
Kiss may be the most cynical, cold-hearted group to wring money from a fanbase but they are far from alone. There’s a big market for cashing in on fan nostalgia or the idea of the past for those who weren’t old enough to experience it the first time and Queen is eager to get in on that. Some of the biggest fans of Queen were born well after Freddie Mercury died in 1991. Queen stopped touring in 1986 and their last US concert was in 1982 and yet the Internet has made and kept they and their late singer relevant.
Which pair of guys would you rather have lunch with if you could choose? Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from Kiss, or Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen? Unless you’re a sado-masochist (that is to say, a hard-core Kiss fan), you’d probably choose Brian and Roger. And it’s not because they’re better people, but they are far better at the soft sell. Something about amiability and grace. You couldn’t imagine either of them being banned from Fox News for hitting people in the head with their book or saying a new stupid thing at least fifteen times a year like Gene does.
(I have no idea if Gene being banned from Fox News speaks ill of him or is a sort-of badge of honor considering that FNC was home of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly for decades. I can’t believe they didn’t offer him his own show.)
I get bitchy because I can tell when my favorite bands are not being straight with me. It’s all part of the great r’n’r swindle, folks. You want me to pay through the nose? It’s your price, you name it. I guess I’ve had it with hype. I hate hype when a new artist comes in with a load of it so when it’s a rehash of old stuff that was bought already it’s even worse. Just don’t burn me too often or too hard. You suck my wallet, you blow my head.
Anybody got that 40th anniversary News Of The World package yet?