Gene Simmons, The Demon, bass guitarist for KISS, music producer and actor. (The many hats this legend has worn are numerous, quite the achiever is Gene Simmons, in my Metal opinion). Gene Simmons always seems to stay in the public eye, the limelight follows this Heavy Metal icon everywhere he goes… with “Celebrity Apprentice” and his very own family reality series “The Family Jewels” making his presence seen and known while KISS is idle. A short while back, I started writing about my favorite KISS solo albums, in preferential order, no less. Why am I doing this? First, I am celebrating the four original members of KISS, their solo albums being what I consider to be quite a historical achievement in Heavy Metal and Rock history. The quality across the board is apparent in the music that Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter created with their solo albums… my reminding and/or informing anyone who is interested in these great KISS solo albums makes for a fine Metal deed. For me to list in order, my favorite KISS solo albums, (it is not etched in Metal stone here), deciding the sequence of which album ranks 1 thru 4, is based on which album has given me the biggest Metal listening thrill over the decades.
As for the songs on this album, the best interpretation for me, as a whole, is Hard Rock and Rock Music that showcases the diversity in the vocals of Gene Simmons and the talent of his being a highly respectable guitarist. Gene Simmons plays electric and acoustic guitar throughout his solo album, he does not play bass guitar here. While with KISS, there are not many moments where Gene Simmons diversifies with his vocals, (that has always been fine with me), plus Gene Simmons plays bass guitar exclusively while with KISS. Looking back, this album was a great opportunity for Gene Simmons to eradicate the expected, delivering on the unexpected… “When You Wish Upon A Star” is the finest example that I could possibly point out. Now, do I like listening to Gene Simmons sing this song? As a teenager, back in the late 70′s into the ’80′s… no, I could never understand why Gene Simmons would have done this song. I actually would deliberately not listen to it after I heard it the first time. Fast forward to 2009, well, I now like this rendition of “When You Wish Upon A Star”, the softer side of Gene Simmons is rather a relaxing listen… (I guess I am getting softer as I get older). Plus, as a Metal bonus, my nine year old twin daughters really dig this song… and Gene Simmons too.
My favorite song is the album opener “Radioactive”, it just glistens with Old School KISS, courtesy of Gene Simmons, of course. His vocals are exactly what you would expect on this song, the commanding and sinister tone that is part of the Gene Simmons persona. I really like the vibe I get from “See You Tonite”, just a solid Rock song that has swirls of late ’70′s sound. “True Confessions” is another Classic Rock song that standouts with the background vocals of Helen Reddy… yes, Helen Reddy. This Gene Simmons solo album was the strongest seller out of the four KISS solo albums, I can honestly understand why, after owning and listening to these songs for years. This Gene Simmons album may not be my favorite out of the four KISS solo albums, yet it does not mean squat when I look at the big Metal picture… this Gene Simmons album is a Rock Classic.
Some of the guest musicians on this Gene Simmons solo KISS album: Rick Nielsen, guitarist of Cheap Trick appears on “See You In Your Dreams”, (Rick Nielsen’s name is spelled incorrectly, by the way, in this albums liner notes, Neilson), Bob Seger – background vocals on “Living In Sin” and “Radioactive”, Joe Perry of Aerosmith plays guitar on “Radioactive” and “Tunnel Of Love”, Donna Summer – background vocals on “Burning Up With Fever” and Cher - voice on phone call during “Living In Sin”. These guest music celebrities that appeared on this album make for excellent Rock Music trivia… not every Metalhead in the world is going to know that Donna Summer appeared on the Gene Simmons solo KISS album.