Author Topic: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation  (Read 74181 times)

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #330 on: June 28, 2012, 09:32:11 AM »
Now I have 5,000 posts and this is still my favorite thread.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

Spalding

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mostlymeat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #332 on: October 08, 2012, 06:02:36 PM »
Holy Smokes - Long excerpt from upcoming Peter Criss memoir:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/exclusive-book-excerpt-peter-criss-makeup-to-breakup-my-life-in-and-out-of-kiss-20121008


Wow, this look great. Is Paul the only one who hasn't written a memoir yet?

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #333 on: October 08, 2012, 10:33:31 PM »
Holy Smokes - Long excerpt from upcoming Peter Criss memoir:

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/exclusive-book-excerpt-peter-criss-makeup-to-breakup-my-life-in-and-out-of-kiss-20121008


Wow, this look great. Is Paul the only one who hasn't written a memoir yet?


Eric and Tommy?

If you string together all of Stanley's stage banter it reads like a very repetitive autobiography.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #334 on: October 22, 2012, 10:11:13 AM »
Jon Wurster's Facebook excerpts from the Peter Criss book have been hilarious.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

gravy boat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #335 on: October 22, 2012, 01:36:04 PM »
Jon Wurster's Facebook excerpts from the Peter Criss book have been hilarious.

Holy cow. Those are awesome.  I had the same reaction as a lot of people--can't be real.

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #336 on: February 25, 2013, 02:53:40 PM »
All the Dunkin' Donuts commercials in the world can't save Mr. Frehley from himself:

http://www.lohud.com/article/20130224/NEWS/302240018

I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

daveB from Oakland

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #337 on: April 19, 2013, 04:35:12 PM »
Buff, can you review this?

https://soundcloud.com/christopher-armes/45-minutes-of-paul-stanley

Awwllllraaiiggggghttt!!
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buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #338 on: April 19, 2013, 08:16:50 PM »
Buff, can you review this?

https://soundcloud.com/christopher-armes/45-minutes-of-paul-stanley

Awwllllraaiiggggghttt!!


DaveB: We've discussed these wonderful recordings in a couple of places, including here:

http://friendsoftom.com/forum/index.php/topic,5126.msg107071.html#msg107071

My take is that the first set, People, Let Me Get this Off My Chest is delightful - if a bit repetitive. Paul loves his audience, he wants to tell them how grateful he is that he can spend his fabulous life making their miserable lives a crumb better, he's nailing his song intros ("Cold Gin," "Love Gun"), he's celebrating America.

Here's the full version of that: https://soundcloud.com/thatericalper/sets/people-let-me-get-this-off-my

The second collection, Honey, That Ain't No Pistol is much darker and angrier. A rage-fueled Stanley takes on imaginary local reporters who ask the same questions in city after city, unnamed critics, enemies of America and other musicians. Don't listen to this one in the dark.

http://grooveshark.com/#/album/Honey+That+Ain+t+No+Pistol/6520795


If you're in a hurry, this is perfect!

Paul Stanley's (KISS) Single Greatest Stage Rap



And here it gets darker again:

Paul Stanley gets mad at a guy with a laser
« Last Edit: April 20, 2013, 02:57:51 PM by buffcoat »
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

mcphee from the forum

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #339 on: October 30, 2013, 08:07:13 PM »
I guess "soon" means something else to buffcoat.
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buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #340 on: October 30, 2013, 10:10:43 PM »
I guess "soon" means something else to buffcoat.

I was waiting for you to come back!

Seriously, finishing the Gene write-up is on my *written goals for 2013.* It's going to happen soon*.







* By the dictionary definition of soon this time, not "geologically speaking, soon" as I meant when I said it last time..
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #341 on: November 07, 2013, 11:41:47 PM »
While you wait, or don't, here's this. If you watch this most of the way through, you'll begin to understand why Gene hates Ace so much.


+++ The Best Ace Frehley Laugh Collection +++
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

Kormodd

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #342 on: November 08, 2013, 12:01:37 AM »
That's a pretty cool laugh actually. Gene can take a hike.

Also, Ace Frehley's appearance on the Morton Downey Jr. Show is on YouTube and is worth watching.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2013, 12:06:34 AM by Kormodd »
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buffcoat

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #343 on: November 25, 2013, 08:05:41 PM »

Since this is my final* review, I wanted to give a little insight into how your reviewer actually feels about KISS. It's a complex relationship. Some of my first memories about cool music involve my slightly older neighbors dressing up as KISS for Halloween. The coolest kid in my neighborhood dressed as Peter Criss, so for a long time I thought he was the coolest one. Hoo boy, it would be difficult to be more wrong than that; however, in my defense, I was like 27 5 years old.

* Maybe not.

That said, what's so fascinating about the solo albums is that all four of the original members of KISS are terrible people, but they are each so UNIQUELY terrible that they are fascinating. KISS has always sort of divided the world into these four types or characters (S&W skewered this brilliantly in the Creature from Pout call, where he described how the Creature, Casanova, Cougar and Wizard represented all aspects of the sexual universe). I think that division works _if you say that actual KISS circumscribes the world of self-centered assholes._ You have the whiny one, the vacant one, the wholly self-centered one and the greedy one. Awesome!

I genuinely enjoy some of the music from their first six studio albums and first two live albums plus Creatures of the Night. Everything since has been awful. I can't separate whether I like the early stuff because it's any good or because of nostalgia - in the end, I think it doesn't matter all that much.

# -2 Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons really should have made a good album with Gene Simmons, but Gene Simmons is definitely not the best work of Gene Simmons. At the time, critics seemed to rank Gene's album #2, behind Peter Ace, but I think it's a clear #3 behind Paul's KISS-iest of the solo albums. It was the best-selling of the four simultaneous, disastrous decisions that were the KISS solo albums. Probably because people thought it was a Jiminy Cricket record. More on that later.

This album features heavy hitters, late 70s' style. it's produced by Sean Delaney, late great manager/roadie/co-writer of "Mr. Speed" (which we thank him for). Gene wasn't going to be out-famous-friended by the other members of KISS, who mostly went for session musicians, or, in the case of Peter, people he found in alleyways near the studio or his home. This (second?) set including Steve Lukather, one presumes. Delaney almost certainly tracked these people down and pleaded with them to contribute to this record. We thank him less for that.

Several of the famous ladies on here dated Gene and one supposes ended up in his super-gross book of sad Polaroids. Despite the fact that most of the ladies he's publicly dated over the years are considered attractive by people, Gene famously doesn't care where a lady ranks on that scale as long as he gets to, uh, you know. So is Cher in his book next to a waitress from the '78 Des Moines show? Is Diana Ross depicted on page 731 underneath the lady from the Poughkeepsie airport bathroom? Enquiring minds (don't) want to know.

Famous people and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter aside, the problem with Gene Simmons (and, perhaps in a larger sense, the problem with Gene Simmons) is that the songs aren't there. This is not a terrible record, like the one that Ace Peter did, but it's pretty bad compared to other KISS records. Part of the problem, maybe, is that Gene played guitar and keyboards rather than bass. Mostly the problem is that, apparently, all that stood between Gene and constant rock-and-roll schmaltz was the thin line of 1) Ace Frehley's ability to show up and 2) Paul's hummingbird-like focus.


The start of "Radioactive," the single, is one of the strangest in the entire KISS and KISS-related catalog. It kicks off with with Gene's deep and scary laugh, distorted by effects, which were rare on non-Bob-Ezrin produced KISS albums. Then there's *Janis Ian* of ("At Seventeen" fame) singing "Hosanna" while Gene speaks Hebrew in the same scary voice. People would ask Bill Aucoin about whether Gene was into the occult, and Bill would say "Gene has his own set of beliefs." He wasn't trying to hide that Gene was a devil worshipper; rather, he was trying to hide that he was *Jewish*. Thumbs down, 70s.

What follows all this chanting and Ian-ery is an ok 70s pop/hard (ish) rock song with guitar played by *Aerosmith's Joe Perry*.  I hope that this half of "the Toxic Twins" was out of his mind on smack when he agreed to play this limp number. Oh yeah, and *Bob Seger* is doing the backup vocals. Too bad Gene forgot to write any music or lyrics for his famous friends on his only solo single.

It's fair to point out here that Gene claims to write "100 songs per album." Which is why KISS is up there with Radiohead in terms of album-quality B-sides. (For the non-KISS-knowledgeable, KISS does not "do" B-Sides - they just put a lesser-known album track on the reverse).

The second track, "Burning Up With Fever," starts with a chunky acoustic guitar being played by someone with oversized fingers. A lot more background singing on this one. The lyrics are dumb again. For "summ" reason, Donna Summer (see what I did there?) is on this track. Hey, Peter almost had Paul Lynde. (No, he didn't.) This is the one with Jeff Baxter. I don't get it. I like how she used a Tyne Daly lookalike in the "She Works Hard for the Money" video. You know, Ms. Summer passed on.

An aside, since this is the last review: it creeped me out that Peter Criss' voice in KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park sounded exactly like the guy who did Zan's voice from the Wonder Twins. This was before I understood the concept of "dubbing." And especially "had to be dubbed because Peter was incapable of pronouncing words at that point."

Does it make sense to have two songs that start with "See You" on your solo album? You bet it does…n't, but you're going to get the first one here. Gene Simmons' extraordinary love for the Beatles (wait, I read an interview where he talked about loving "how the girls screamed for the Beatles" but hating their music. Could it be that Gene is not entirely consistent in his claims?) is well documented (see previous parenthetical remark).

Start again.

"See You Tonite" is Gene's homage to the Beatles, and presages the texting era with an unnecessary word shortening. Apparently, Gene asked John and Paul (McCartney, not Stanley) to sing the background vocals on this one. Because they are known for great songwriting and Gene is known for… not, they declined. So Mr. Simmons got the next best thing, if by next best thing I mean the two guys who *played* John and Paul in the touring company of Beatlemania. Which, of course, I do not. This song is no good at all.

I do like some songs on this record, really.

But not this one, either. Gene rolls out his fourth lousy song in a row (I paid $20 for the picture disc at the State Fairgrounds flea market in 1984 - you ripped me off, music booth guy!) The song is "Tunnel of Love." Gene wants you (ladies) to let him "visit your…" Do I have to say it? Fine. "tunnel of love." Whatever could you mean, Mr. Simmons? More female backing vocals. Even, I wanna say, a little crappier this time. Joe Perry is on guitar, and for chrissake Peg Bundy is leading the background choir. "You'll jump off the roof if I say" - what kind of lyric is that?

Helen Reddy took time off from thinking about "I Am Woman" to back up a guy singing about "True Confessions." Oh, Helen. At least she's on the first decent song on the album. I like her singing here. The lyrics are dumb, but this one is better than the ones that came before, and it's (slightly) less sexist than most of Gene's writing. I will tell you that if you look at the songmeanings.com page for "True Confessions," you'll find exactly zero comments opining on what the Demon was talking about. That works.

Here comes the best song on the album. "Living in Sin" features medium-term Simmons squeeze Cher, or as 70s audiences knew her, "CHER!" I believe that Chastity (pre-Chaz, pre-Oprah) Bono is on this one, as well as Bob Seger again. The Internet tells me that Gene also made an appearance on a Cher song - unfortunately, not "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves." I checked. This song is an outtake from a 70s porn soundtrack - at least it would be if porn producers had any music budget. Gene grunts and leers his way through the whole track. Cher calls and leaves a message on his answering machine (they had those in '78?). That and his breathy intro are the only reasons to listen to this album twice, unless you're a longtime Lon Chaney, Sr. devotee.

The chorus is "I'm Living in Sin / At the Holiday Inn. This brings up several questions for me:

1. Did the rock star lifestyle of the period center around the Holiday Inn? Gene is noted for his, uh, money focus and frugality, but were Ace and Peter really trashing Holiday Inns? If so, Paul Stanley's high-handing of his drunk, stupid, blue-collar-miserable audience rings a bit more hollow than it did. Which was a lot.
2. What percentage of Gene Simmons-penned KISS songs are about groupies? Is it 90? I think it's 90.
3. Finally, why, oh why, did some late-70s Don Draper not snap this one up for Holiday Inn commercials?

"Always Near You/Nowhere to Hide" belongs on the lite side of lite 70s M.O.R. radio. If this song came on when I was in my dentist's chair, I'd be waiting for something heavier, like Neil Sedaka, to come on. The lyrics are creepy, but not in the usual Gene creepy way. More like a stalker than someone who would take photos of you *with your permission and cooperation.* Come on, ladies. I thought Cher had more self-respect than that.*

*No I did not.

"Man of a Thousand Faces" answers the age-old question, "When is a 70s glam/dumb rocker finally going to write and record a tribute to Lon Chaney, Sr.?!" with "1978," and the question "Why not?" with "Just listen to this terrible song." Gene identified with Chaney, despite only having the two faces himself. Does plastic surgery count as an additional face?

The Internet tells me this was written for "Dressed to Kill." A certain indie drummer believes that "Ladies in Waiting" is the worst KISS song. Not even close, you comic genius you. Off the top of my head, the cheap-sex lyrics of "Ladies in Waiting" beat the lyrics to every single Ace Frehley song, with "Torpedo Girl" as the nadir. "Ladies in Waiting" might be the sleaziest lyric Gene penned pre-Creatures of the Night, and that's an accomplishment. Now where was I? Oh, yeah. I hate "Man of a Thousand Faces."

"Mr. Make Believe" is garbage, and the worst song on a not-very-good album. It's really close in tenor to "Man…," which makes me wonder why he put them next to each other on the album. Now, if Peter Criss had recorded the *exact same song* two takes in a row and placed them back-to-back on *his* album, I wouldn't question it for a second ("Lesh put 'I Can't Stop the Rain' as 9 and, uhhhhhhh, 'I Can't Stop the Rain' as 10." "Ok, Peter.") But Simmons is notably braggy about not indulging in exactly one rock and roll cliche, though he makes up for it with his other addiction.

In the all-time-unnecessary-remake category, we have "See You in Your Dreams Tonight" (why not "Tonite"? Weird decisions were made for this album). Gene was reportedly displeased with the way this turned out on Rock and Roll Over, so he remade it, substituting Katey Segal and other ladies for Paul and Peter and maybe Ace. (Who knows whether Ace sang backup on anything? Hint: not Ace. Imagine being a lawyer and having Ace for a client. I understand why Gene hated him so much. I ain't sayin' I agree with it, but I understand it). Rick Nielsen, the permanently hatted dude from Cheap Trick plays guitar here. The other dudes in bands who always wear hats "for some reason" (I'm talking to you, "The Edge") probably owe him royalties, but that doesn't make him a better fit for a KISS song than Ace Frehley.

The last song is the least explicable song ever to appear on a KISS record of any kind, and I already reviewed Peter's solo album (c.f. "Tossin' and Turnin').  "When You Wish Upon a Star" is the kind of Disney magic that Disney has always hated. I literally* could not relisten to this number for this review. I can only go so far. But trust me, it's awful.

* Literally.

That's all, folks. Unless I decide to go back and do the four KILLERZ songs. Which I might do.

Thanks for reading!
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

Kormodd

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Re: KISS: An Album-by-Album Critical Reevaluation
« Reply #344 on: November 25, 2013, 09:10:06 PM »
Great post. I'm not the biggest KISS fan, but I'm ashamed that I didn't know such an album of highly erotic Polaroids existed. I'm sure KISS fans -- and enthusiasts of Gene Simmons's sex life -- are ecstatic over the thought of its possible release someday.
Ever do nothing and gain nothing from it?
Ever feel stupid and then know that you really are?
Ever think you're smart and then find out you aren't?
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