Hey, Folks! Now that I’m back from holidays I thought what better way to fill the next two weeks of posts than with review’s of all four of the KISS Solo Albums that were all released on the same day back on September18th 1978!
Peter/Ace/Starchild and Money Bags thought they could sell anything and for a time they could. These solo albums also marked where the decline(in popularity) came in and perhaps that was due to overexposure.
Think about it for a second.
In a span of 15 months between June 1977 and September 1978 KISS released 1 studio album( Love Gun) 1 Double Live Album (KISS ALIVE 2) 1 Double Greatest Hits Set(Double Platinum) and 4 Solo Albums!
That’s a ton of product!
Good on em I suppose, but man that is a crazy pace so I guess when KISS thought about the solo album idea you can bet your KISS Dolls that Gene and Paul probably believed that the two trainwrecks Ace and Peter would self destruct and make fools of themselves! Nothing could be further from the truth! Sort of!
So let me give you some thoughts and my kinda B.S on these solo records 41 years later! Like my bunch of KISS reviews earlier this year, I will be doing a scoring system out of 10! Feel free to comment below whether I was a genius or a complete lunatic with this batch of albums via my scores!
I had to go with Mean Gene as the first review! Why? Well back in 1978, this was the first of the 4 solo albums I had heard at a friends house! Right away, I was intrigued by that cover. Gene looking menacing with a drip of blood coming out of his mouth. I kinda wished they would have used his Alive 2 cover picture where Gene looks like he demolished a Heinz Ketchup Bottle at a Wiener Roast!
Simmons just as you would expect goes all over the map on this album. Something like over 20 guests are on this album. Joe Perry/Bob Seger/Donna Summer/Rick Nielsen/Cher are just a few of the artists on this album. Gene just had to prove to the world that he’s the best and everyone should know that!
Does it work on this album?
I will say Radioactive as an opener sets Gene’s( sober) bar high. Everything works right with this track. The cool opener with catchy verses/chorus and a wicked solo! How about that one-minute opener with a bunch of violins swirling about that launch Radioactive with a sinsiter laugh! Bonus points on this track for that Christine 16 like piano playing during the chorus of Radioactive! I call this GOLD!
Burning Up With Fever is typical Gene. I kinda dig that lazy, hazy stomp of this track that has Donna Summer wailing around on backing vocals which kinda gives this track a relaxed vibe!
Nice acoustic driven Beatles like the tune that’s See You Tonight which has Gene taking a vast chill pill and laying down a pretty decent vocal. The drums drive this track forward not taking it down wussy avenue!
‘Well if you’re lookin’ for the best, then baby be my guest I’m right before your eyes, and I’m tellin’ you no lies You wanted my disease, you’ll have to do as I please You’ll jump off the roof if I say, I won’t let you get away !’
Geezus Demon! Disease? Yikes but I guess in 78 anything went and Gene spreading the disease was one of those things. The track that I’m referring to is Tunnel of Love which kinda plods and stomps kinda like a Turtle trying to cross the Autobahn! Fair enough but after 3 opening good tracks this one kinda lags a bit!
True Confessions is a fun, happy tune. Gene going on about not being some chicks social security that has a brilliant jiving chorus. More female backing vocals and that neat dribble of the piano which for a few of these tracks is pretty apparent and give Simmons credit he went outside the box at times on this album!
I still remember from 1978 the first time I heard Radioactive. Living In Sin would have to be the second tune I ever heard as it features Cher doing that wacky, goofy phonecall in the middle of the song. The song is repetitive at times with the Living in SIn ( at the Holiday Inn) yadda yadda. But Gene does what he wanted to do as back in 1978! Who was gonna tell him differently?
Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide is perhaps the most unlike Simmons tune on here if you were to compare his wham bam thank you mam philosophy on many of his KISS Tracks! Another track that has Gene going outside his comfort zone and no mention of putting a log into your fireplace at all around these songs!
Cool opening of guitar that leads into Man of a 1000 Faces with its orchestra like chorus which reminds me of late 70’s elements of Cheap Tricks Dream Police! Gene give him credit sings for his supper on this track which earns him some bonus points here as it’s not that typical ‘Oh Yeah Oh Yeah’ sis boom bah rah of Gene later on in the ’80s! You know what I’m talking about the ‘Burn Bitch Burn’ Genie tunes of the 80’s Demon. Ok ok I like that one!
Mr Make Believe is another one of those trippy like tunes that may have been a hit on your local am station when they played syrup rock in the 70’s/80’s. The demon even goes up an octave higher at times during the chorus which begs the question did Cher give him a hand(ahem) here?
I always read that Gene said he redid See You In The Dreams as he didn’t like the version that KISS cut on there Rock N Roll Over album from 1976! Gene’s solo version is good, but to my ears, KISS version rocks way better with the aid of Paul Stanley’s vocals during the chorus! Plus you had a boozed up Peter Criss and snapped up Ace Frehley contributing drums and guitars respectively which goes perfectly with the two Sober KISS dudes! Sorry Gene your solo verison lags comapred to your KISS version.
Gene ends his album with Wish You Upon A Star! which to me is silly, but Gene does what he wants to do! Great time to get up off the couch to go for a piss as Wish You Upon A Star plays out!
All these years later, Well 4 decades later I have to admit Gene Simmons solo album here ended up being a pretty decent listen in July 2019! I have to give Gene credit as he went totally outside the KISS box at times, which was impressive as he showed a softer side at times to his onstage persona.
I didn’t understand what he was doing back in 1978 with this record. As a 11 yr old going on 12 at the time I wanted Gene songs like Ladies Room and Christine 16,
Simmons stayed the course and charted into some unknown waters on this album and his makeup didn’t smear because of it!
For that, I respect him. Kinda!
dekE’s 1978 Score-5/10
deKE’s 2019 Score-7/10