From the Vault...


Gene Simmons
"Gene Simmons"

© Casablanca Records

track listing
  • Radioactive
  • Burning Up With Fever
  • See You Tonite
  • Tunnel Of Love
  • True Confessions
  • Living In Sin
  • Always Near You/
    Nowhere To Hide
  • Man Of 1000 Faces
  • Mr. Make Believe
  • See You In Your Dreams
  • When You Wish Upon A Star

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    Gene Simmons related sites:
    Gene Simmons Website
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    Creedence Clearwater Revival--Willy And The Poorboys
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    Bee Gees--Main Course
    Gene Simmons
    "Gene Simmons"

    When Kiss was happening back in the 1970s, with all of the wild makeup and hard rock, someone (if not, more than one person) had the idea of having the four members of Kiss release individual albums. Right away, people would think that the band would break up, leaving the individuals to continue with solo careers. That wasn't the case with Kiss. By the time their solo albums were released, the band starting losing its popularity. Kiss was one of those bands that caught you offguard. They were different because of their makeup, yet it seemed that most artists were getting into the makeup thing anyway: David Bowie and Alice Cooper were unique with their makeup, and their music. But the music of Kiss' was maybe a little ahead of its time back then. The critics didn't like them; they were too wild with their persona: the wild makeup and the wild rock and roll. But to their fans, they were enjoyed.

    I wasn't much of a big Kiss freak as most people, but I did enjoy most of their music. It wasn't until I was older that I appreciated their music more. Gene Simmons, the long-tongued, spitting fire bass player's solo album has that unique Kiss sound. It has to; he was the main focus of Kiss, as he mostly provided the main vocals on their songs. It would only be a matter time that he, along with Paul Stanley, would become the only original members of the band, as Kiss would continue into the next decade and a half.

    What's different on this album is the intro the first song on the album, Radioactive. It's theatrical, like ELO's Fire On High. Another theatrical tune in a sense is True Confessions. It's also resembles the aura of Meatloaf's Bat Out Of Hell. A lot of the songs on this album is in that same vein. It's like listening to Meatloaf, yet it is in the Kiss-style format. It's not as the hard rockin' Kiss, as heard in previous albums. But a bit more theatrical.

    But as the album goes on, it seems that all the songs start sounding alike (at least the first six songs did anyway). But then there's a bit of changing. Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide slows down the pace, and it makes you want to listen to it more closely, after hearing the first six songs. When it does kick in a bit, it does have that theatrical feeling again, but it's a good theatrical feeling. Man Of 1000 Faces is a medium-paced rock song, yet it's changes in the song is almost like Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends, we're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside. (Isn't ELP considered theatrical too?) Mr. Make Believe is a nice, bouncy pop song, with nice harmony vocals. See You In Your Dreams returns with the usual Kiss-rocking style. The last song, When You Wish Upon A Star is a remake of the Disney classic. This really caught me off guard. It's musical arrangements resembles a song heard in The Wizard Of Oz, or from a standard Walt Disney soundtrack. For a song like this, Gene Simmons' vocals just doesn't cut it. He is not meant to be as a soft-spoken vocalist, as a Jimminy Cricket. I think he should go back to his usual job, being a hard-rockin' vocalist.

    The songs that grabbed my attention more than others were the tunes that had a different sound than what I was already familar with of the Kiss sound: Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide and Man Of 1000 Faces. When You Wish Upon A Star was noticeable. The musical arrangement was beautiful, but the vocals get a thumbs-down. Not a good way to end an album. When David Lee Roth took an old standard like Just A Gigolo, he did it with class, both musically and visually through his video.

    Despite Gene Simmons having help on this album, from the likes of Bob Seger, Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Helen Reddy, Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter of The Doobie Brothers, Donna Summer, Janis Ian, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and Cher, the album as a whole is average. In fact, all of the Kiss solo albums did not sell very well. For the die-hard Kiss fans, they'll probably enjoy the theatrical/rock tunes on this album, and they will be surprised as I was with the remaining songs. But these four individuals were much better with the group Kiss than on their own, at least at this time, back in 1978. Sure, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss did release solo albums of their own long after they left Kiss, but back then, they were much better as a group. The 1978 solo albums didn't put a damper on their career, but changes were due ahead for them later. Both Criss and Frehley would leave the band, and their replacements would have different facial makeups. By the end of 1982, more personnel changes occurred, as the makeup disappeared, finally revealing what the band looked like, at least for Simmons and Stanley, the remaining original members. The original Kiss were never seen without their makeup.

    Kiss is a band in which you like them or you don't. As a band, their sound is unique in the hard-rock/heavy metal style. But when you take the components apart that make a great rock band such as Kiss, it just might backfire. It was a good thing the band did get back together, even though many changes occurred for them later. The original Kiss is the best, at least they continued onward, instead of focusing on solo careers. These solo albums were an experiment. Some were better than others, but at least they made the right decision to get back as a group, and continue onward as one of rock's great bands.

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    Previous Review: #564
    Creedence Clearwater Revival--Willy And The Poorboys
    Next Review: #566
    Bee Gees--Main Course