Category Archives: Gene Simmons

My thoughts on KISS getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and album reviews coming

If you follow the world of rock/metal online, you’d be hard pressed not to know that KISS is finally getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. You’d also have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the controversy surrounding which members are (and are not) getting inducted. It’s become quite a mess. Gene & Paul are having it out in the press with Ace & Peter, Gene & Paul are having it out with the HOF’s induction process, the fans are having it out with Gene & Paul, etc. It goes on and on.

Here’s what we know: the Hall of Fame is inducting only Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The original four members of KISS and that’s it. They aren’t inducting anyone else and they don’t want anyone else (such as Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer) performing at the induction ceremony. Frankly, that’s silly, but look — KISS has been eligible for induction for a long time and for the Hall of Fame execs to put this restriction on the band is just their way to make the induction as painful as possible for KISS. It’s like they couldn’t put off leaving KISS out of the Hall any longer because the public was becoming too vocal about their exclusion but at the same time the Hall of Fame didn’t want to make it a fun/easy process for the band.

No one is arguing the founders shouldn’t be in but I think all members should be inducted and that they should be allowed to perform with Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer (which the Hall does not want). My dream scenario is that everyone who has ever been in KISS gets inducted and then the classic line-up plays and then the modern line-up plays and/or they have all six of those guys (plus Bruce Kulick) jam together.

It’s not a big deal to induct every single member of KISS, so I don’t see why the Hall is resisting it:

  • No question, Eric Carr definitely deserves to be in. Great drummer and he contributed to the band for 11 years on many successful albums.
  • Bruce Kulick — same situation. He was there for 8 years and played on a number of KISS albums that went gold/platinum.
  • Vinnie Vincent. Not sure if anyone could even find this guy and he didn’t have the best relationship with Gene & Paul but even they would admit his guitar work and songwriting skills played a big hand in freshening up the band’s sound and giving them some of the best albums they’ve ever produced.
  • Eric Singer first joined KISS in 1991 after Eric Carr’s death, had a short stint in the early 2000s filling in for Peter Criss and has been their drummer since 2004 when Peter Criss once again left and has sung lead vocals on a handful of KISS tracks.
  • Tommy Thayer is a big force in the modern band. Great guitar player and he’s been playing with them since 2002 and has songwriting credits/vocal duties on the last two KISS albums. I could see someone maybe arguing against Tommy though given the time frame he joined, but I think he’s contributed enough to warrant the induction.
  • Given his very short tenure, Mark St. John is probably the only KISS member you could question for HOF status and say that he didn’t contribute much to the band… provided you consider playing on a platinum-selling album as not contributing much.

It’s nice that the band is getting inducted into something called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when you consider the people who run the Hall and the list of people who have already been inducted, it’s anything but a legit rock hall. No one in their right mind would argue that if there is such a hall that KISS deserves to be there, but it’s sad that the RNR Hall of Fame is refusing to acknowledge the entire career of the band and wants to focus only on the 1970s.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for some KISS fans but I actually applaud Gene & Paul for refusing to give in and play strictly with Ace & Peter. They want all eras of KISS to be recognized and they think Eric & Tommy deserve to stand on stage. I agree. I know there is the whole Gene & Paul vs. Ace & Peter thing, and that’s sad, but I don’t have a problem with Gene & Paul’s “all or nothing” stance.

Now, I recently noticed there’s a surprising amount of KISS albums I haven’t yet reviewed. I could’ve sworn I reviewed them all! Well, with all the buzz regarding KISS these days thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the fact that this year is the band’s 40th anniversary, there’s no better time than now to finish reviewing the band’s catalog! Be on the look out for those reviews in the coming weeks.

GENE SIMMONS – Asshole

Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004, Sanctuary Records)

1. “Sweet & Dirty Love” … 3:04
2. “Firestarter” … 3:21
3. “Weapons of Mass Destruction”… 3:44
4. “Waiting For the Morning Light” … 3:22
5. “Beautiful” … 4:05
6. “Asshole”… 3:19
7. “Now That You’re Gone” … 3:21
8. “Whatever Turns You On” … 3:15
9. “Dog” … 3:07
10. “Black Tongue” … 4:28
11. “Carnival of Souls” … 3:27
12. “If I Had a Gun” … 2:59
13. “1,000 Dreams” … 3:19

Band:
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians (TONS, but most notably):
Frank Zappa – Guitar, Spoken Word (“Black Tongue”)
Dave Navarro – Guitar (“Firestarter”)
Bruce Kulick – Guitar (“Weapons of Mass Destruction”)
Richie Kotzen – Guitar
Dweezil Zappa – Guitar (“Black Tongue”)
Eric Singer – Drums (“Weapons of Mass Destruction”)

Produced by: Gene Simmons

Quite an interesting album. Some good moments, but a lot of it is a head scratcher. Just like his 1978 solo release.

The album definitely kicks off right though- “Sweet & Dirty Love” is a great rocker, probably one of the best songs he’s ever written. It’s a shame it got stuck on this unnoticed, unbalanced album and not on an actual KISS release (it’s been a constant work in progress since Gene first wrote it in 1977). It’s got a great 70s southern hard rock vibe. Ballads like “Waiting for the Morning Light” and “Beautiful” are nice. “Beautiful” particularly sticks out.

“Firestarter” is a lame straight-up cover of the Prodigy song. I didn’t like them doing the song, I don’t like Gene doing the song. Oddball cover to do as well.

Gene apparently hooked up with this musician called “Bag” and he helped with writing some of the album. He was just another one of Gene’s failed projects and it’s easy to see why, some of these songs are awful. “Asshole”, for instance, is absolutely atrocious and the lyrics are completely lame. Some of these songs, like “Asshole” and “Beautiful” were actual submissions from bands. Yes, Gene was pleading with bands to send HIM songs to put on HIS album.

If doing a cover song and taking submissions wasn’t lazy enough, “Black Tongue” is a fleshed out idea of a song from Frank Zappa that Gene got the rights to and I think most of the other songs were from the hundreds of piles of songs Gene had demoed over the years.

If I’m remembering correctly, “Weapons of Mass Destruction” was from the Psycho Circus sessions and was reworked from the original title of “Psycho Circus” (Paul Stanley’s version won out and made the album). Sounds more like a song for Carnival of Souls, and I wouldn’t be surprised if THAT’S where the song originally came from. Of course, never one to pass up a good song title, Gene has a song called “Carnival of Souls” on this very album.

This album is a mixed bag. The really good moments are canceled out by REALLY bad, weird moments. This release is only for KISS/Gene die hards, and I know even many of those don’t like it.

Highlights: “Sweet & Dirty Love”, “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, “Waiting for the Morning Light”, “Beautiful”, “Now That You’re Gone”, “Black Tongue”, “Carnival of Souls”

www.genesimmons.com
www.kissonline.com

KISS – Gene Simmons

KISS – Gene Simmons [Remastered] (1997, Mercury Records/Casablanca Records)
Original Release: 1978, Casablanca Records

Track Listing:
1. “Radioactive” … 3:51
2. “Burning up with Fever” … 4:22
3. “See You Tonight” … 2:28
4. “Tunnel of Love” … 3:53
5. “True Confessions” … 3:30
6. “Living in Sin” … 3:51
7. “Always Near You/Nowhere to Hide” … 4:12
8. “Man of 1,000 Faces” … 3:17
9. “Mr. Make Believe” … 4:02
10. “See You in Your Dreams” … 2:49
11. “When You Wish Upon a Star” … 2:43

Band:
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Guitar
Elliot Randall – Guitar
Neil Jason – Bass
Allen Schwartzberg – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Tons of guest spots ranging from Cher to Joe Perry to Bob Seger to Donna Summer

Produced by: Sean Delaney & Gene Simmons

Wow, such a departure from the KISS sound. Being Gene, you’d think he would’ve played it safe with the fans and their money (as Paul did) by trying to do a KISS-sounding album on his own, but he didn’t. Gotta give Gene credit for that.

I hated this album when I first bought it. The God of Thunder doesn’t do much bolt throwing at all, some songs are lot more Beatle-esque pop rock than hard rock, but it’s grown on me over time. Paul & Ace’s albums are the best, but this is a respectable outing, even if there are more hits than misses. Gene can write really great rock songs when he wants to (“Radioactive” is the stand out here), bu he’s goes all over the place with genres on his solo albums and the quality suffers greatly for it.

The biggest oddity of the bunch is Gene’s cover of “When You Wish Upon a Star”. BUT… He does a great job on it and has explained in the past that the song has a lot of personal sentiment for him.

Highlights: “Radioactive”, “Burning Up With Fever”, “See You Tonite”, “See You In Your Dreams”, “When You WIsh Upon a Star”

www.genesimmons.com
www.kissonline.com

%d bloggers like this: