Simple Rock vs Prog Rock

Gene Simmons, a stalwart of simplicity, via his band Kiss, has pronounced his brand of simple rock as being harder to come up with than the more complex stylings of prog rock. He says it’s harder to come up with a memorable simple song than a flashy prog rock song. We are left to take him at his word because he doesn’t really present proof of his position.

I disagree because of all of the Kiss songs I would hear growing up (three of my siblings really liked Kiss and played them all the time), all I can remember of these are the songs Shout it Out Loud, Rock and Roll All Night, and I Was Made for Loving You. Kiss had 16 albums back then and all I can remember are 3 songs.

I was into Yes (a prog band) and had no problem remembering that band’s songs. Roundabout was more memorable than any Kiss song. Going for the One had memorable steel guitar which is a totally different approach to this instrument than what is done in country music. Don’t Kill the Whale had synthesizer sounds that were whale like. Owner of a Lonely Heart had a sound that was like a whole orchestra being kicked. To me, Yes was always more memorable than Kiss.

If the simple songs of Kiss were so memorable, why was it necessary for Kiss to use the gimmick of extreme makeup for their members? Why was it necessary to have such a big stage show? Was it that Kiss felt their music wasn’t enough on its own to entertain an audience?

Yes fans knew that their heroes wouldn’t be jumping and cavorting across the stage. After all, they had complex music coming from their instruments that they had to play well for their audience. So they stood there and played (impressively) and that was enough for their audiences.

I would like to make the case for complex music. There are only three parts to music. That is volume, pitch and time. That’s all. Volume is obvious. Time can mean time signature, syncopation and accent (Reggae has the accent on the second beat instead of the first). The rest is pitch. This may sound complex but music treats octaves as being identical. So there are only 12 notes. With only 12 notes, complexity should be praised, because it’s so rare.

So as usual, I don’t see things the same as Gene Simmons. I’m pleased with that.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet. Now in the Fediverse as
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