All American Man
Written by Paul Stanley and Sean Delaney
Lead vocal: Paul Stanley
From the album Alive II, 1977
Produced by Eddie Kramer and KISS at the Capitol Theatre, New Jersey and Electric Lady Studios, New York.
In a nutshell: What might have been.
Review: The vagaries of the Random Number Generator have made me a little late for the official anniversary, but around a year ago the great Bob Kulick passed away. Bob was of course the brother of Bruce Kulick, but he was also an integral part of KISStory himself having almost joined the fledgling band back in 1973 and, of course, he dipped in and out of the KISS story right up to his death in 2020. Probably his most important contribution to KISS is his session work on Alive II, including today’s song, All American Man.
The first of five studio tracks on side 4 of Alive II, All American Man gets underway with a riff that I’m sure KISS have reused elsewhere in the catalog but I can’t put my finger on exactly where. Maybe not. Anyway, during the intro we get our first bit of playing from Bob as he plays a neat little double tracked lead figure over the main riff.
Paul’s vocals comes in at about the 30 second mark. He’s singing in his lower register and the lyrics are standard stuff about how he’s an irresistible sex object. We’ve spoken before about Paul’s weird Madonna/whore thing where he invariably casts himself as either a nerdy loser or the world’s most finely tuned sex machine. He’s in full on “whore” mode here.
The verse transitions to a bridge section – my favourite part of the song – before a pretty nifty drum figure from Pete takes the song to the chorus. Unlike many KISS chorus which are huge, rousing singalong affairs, All American Man features a really simple refrain with Paul simply stating that he’s “a six foot, hot look, All American Man” before the song goes back to the main riff and into verse two.
The second verse is classic Sweet Little Sixteen/Surfin’ USA stuff with Paulie reeling off the names of US cities that he’s gotten laid in. It’s back to the bridge and chorus, then there’s a cool buildup section before Bob takes a solo.
Now. I try not to swear here at the KISS Project. I want to try and keep things as SFW and family friendly as possible. But holy shit, does this solo kick all kinds of ass. Totally unlike anything Ace ever played in both feel and tone, the lightning fast flurry of notes Bob wrings out of his guitar give us a tantalising glimpse of what KISS might have been had Bob got the gig back in ’73. I love Ace and consider him an absolutely integral part of the classic KISS sound, but holy crap, listening to this I can’t help but wonder what might have been.
After the solo, Paul screeches out the bridge section before delivering the chorus a capella. The rest of the band come back in and the riff cycles round a few more times before the big finish.
Never played live until the Konvention Tour in 1995, All American Man has only been played twice by KISS since, most recently on the Hit and Run Tour in 2007 where it was played at two consecutive shows on the 20th and 21st of July. It hasn’t been played live by KISS since, but frequent KISS openers The Dead Daisies have played it a handful of times on KISS Kruises, the Ace Frehley band (appropriately without Ace) played it at a KISS Expo in 2018 and of course, the Kulick Brothers played it at their triumphant KISS Kruise VII show.
The first time I ever heard Alive II, I knew going in that one (1) of the studio tracks was Ace and the others weren’t. Hilariously considering how unlike Ace’s playing the solo on this one is, I was fooled into thinking that the Spaceman played on this one and it was another of the tracks that was Aceless. Which one did I think it was? That’s a story – and a review – for another time.