iTunes Diaries, entry #27: “Strutter” by KISS

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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In 1999, I became strangely enamored of the movie Detroit Rock City. Take four teenage boys who have formed their own KISS cover band, set them on the road to see KISS in person, and there’s your movie. It’s a fun, dopey, and mildly memorable entry that falls somewhere between  “stoner road movie” and “musical.” And I think it’s only because of the music that I even remember the movie. Frankly, any time classic rock is heavily featured in a movie, it’s gonna be a win for me, and Detroit Rock City has classic rock in coming out of its ears. Naturally, the movie’s soundtrack became a very welcome part of my CD collection…back then. Sadly, at some point between then and recent times, the CD was misplaced, and it never made its way onto my iPod. Efforts to locate the CD have popped up on occasion, and I especially think about it when KISS’s “Strutter” (from their 1974 album KISS) plays.

Now, if you look at Detroit Rock City’s soundtrack, you’ll see that it contains of “Strutter,” but it’s a cover version by The Donnas. This cover, and its subsequent video that made swift rounds on MTV, introduced me to the band, and I became a fan. Reminiscent of perfect/imperfect punky acts like The Ramones and the New York Dolls, The Donnas, as I came to know them best during the early 2000s, held their own with super-catchy tunes replete with great guitar riffs, upright middle fingers to “The Man,” and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. The Donnas remain a definite favorite whenever I need a modern, anti-establishment rock infusion with a retro twist.

So why am I featuring the original “Strutter” by everyone favorite rock n’ roll party band rather than a raucous cover of it? It’s actually a great question, because every time I hear “Strutter” on my iPod, I initially think it’s going to be The Donnas. But I bought the KISS version for my glam rock-themed playlist because…well…probably because the whole point of the playlist was to have fun with musical men in make-up. And I had previously purchased “Rock and Roll all Nite,” and nothing says “musical men in make-up” like KISS, so the playlist needed a KISS song. Not being a member of the KISSArmy (though I did dress up the Spaceman [Ace Frehley] one Halloween back when I was cool like that], the only other song that came to mind, thanks to The Donnas and Detroit Rock City, was “Strutter.”

Plus, I…well, I kinda relate to the song. I mean, not literally, but in that confident-woman-knows-how-to-strut-her-stuff way.  Can’t say I was very good at playing the game, and I was mostly too aloof for my own good, but in my heyday I used to delight in the chase, which was always better than the catch. (Thanks, Motörhead.)

KISS -- KISS (1974)
KISS — KISS (1974)

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