Kiss – Goes Solo Four Times

KissSolo1

In 1978 KISS did something that had never been done before. They did something that many fans, and even the band members themselves, feel was the beginning of the end for the original line-up of KISS. The individual members of the band released solo albums simultaneously. While these albums were truly solo albums, written and recorded without the other members of the band, they were still a KISS project. A cool fucking concept, I think, and one that showed each of the members in a unique light. Say what you will, these solo albums are historic and just plain awesome.

Over the years my favorite of these solo albums has changed constantly. If you ask me my favorite now and then ask again next week, chances are good you’ll get a different answers. Right now I’m digging Paul Stanley’s album, and next week it might be Gene’s, Ace’s, or Peter’s. Then again, it might still be Paul’s. That’s because I love each of these albums equally. I appreciate them for how they represent the individual members of the band who created them. There are no losers here.

“Paul Stanley”

Paul’s album stayed closest to the KISS sound. That makes perfect sense, particularly in light of what we now know to be true historically — Paul is, and always has been, dedicated to the band. When the others were off doing something else, Paul was always there to keep the KISS flag flying. That dedication shines through in the KISS sound of Paul’s solo album. There were some great tunes on it. My favorites are “It’s Alright,” “Move On,” “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me,” and of course the ballad “Hold Me, Touch Me,” but there isn’t a wasted track on the entire album.

Side one

  1. “Tonight You Belong to Me”
  2. “Move On”
  3. “Ain’t Quite Right”
  4. “Wouldn’t You Like to Know Me”
  5. “Take Me Away (Together as One)”

Side two

  1. “It’s Alright”
  2. “Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We’re Apart)”
  3. “Love in Chains”
  4. “Goodbye”

“Gene Simmons”

Gene’s solo album certainly leans toward his penchant for being in the spotlight and showing off. His roster of guest star appearances includes Bob Seger, Donna Summer, Joe Perry, and Cher, just to name a few. There are a lot of Beatles-influenced mid-tempo ballads on the album, which showed a side to the demon that fans hadn’t seen at that point. Stand-out tracks include “Mr. Make Believe,” “Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide,” “See You Tonight,” “Radioactive,” and :Living in Sin.” The most surprising song on the album is Gene’s cover of the standard “When You Wish upon a Star,” which really isn’t too surprising given Gene’s love for America and the opportunity we all have to fulfill the American dream. A great, well-balanced effort with some shining moments.

Side one

  1. “Radioactive”
  2. “Burning up with Fever”
  3. “See You Tonight”
  4. “Tunnel of Love”
  5. “True Confessions”

Side two

  1. “Living in Sin”
  2. “Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide”
  3. “Man of a Thousand Faces”
  4. “Mr. Make Believe”
  5. “See You in Your Dreams”
  6. “When You Wish upon a Star”

“Ace Frehley”

Ace’s album sounds like songs he could’ve done on a KISS album. Some of the best tracks for me are “Rip It Out,” “Speedin’ back to My Baby,” “I’m in Need of Love,” “What’s on Your Mind,” and of course “New York Groove,” which he still performs as a solo artist today. It’s been reported that Ace’s solo album was the most popular, hence his eventual decision to leave the band. Ace’s may have been the most successful, but that’s probably because he was the most mysterious of the band members at that time, having only sung two KISS songs at that point, “Shock Me” and “Rocket Ride.” Ace played all the instruments but the drums, which were played by Anton Fig, and some bass, played by Will Lee. His album set the tone for his solo career. He sounds pretty much the same today. Killer album.

Side one

  1. “Rip It Out”
  2. “Speedin’ Back to My Baby”
  3. “Snow Blind”
  4. “Ozone”
  5. “What’s on Your Mind?”

Side two

  1. “New York Groove”
  2. “I’m in Need of Love”
  3. “Wiped-Out”
  4. “Fractured Mirror” (Instrumental)

“Peter Criss”

Let me just say it up front, most people thought Peter’s album was the worst of the bunch, including all the guys in the band except for Peter. The big complaint was that the album strayed too far from KISS. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wan’t that the point, to showcase the members as individuals, not just as members of KISS. That being the case, I think Peter’s album was highly successful. It certainly showed his musical foundation. On top of that, there were some really awesome songs. Favorites for me include “Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Rock Me, Baby,” “I’m Gonna Love You,” “That’s the Kinda Sugar Papa Likes,” and “I Can’t Stop the Rain,” but truthfully, there isn’t a bad song here. Even his cover of “Tossin’ and Turnin'” was on the money. I feel like this album got a bad rap. Give it a listen and pay attention. It’s fun, funky, and full of energy.

Side one

  1. “I’m Gonna Love You”
  2. “You Matter to Me”
  3. “Tossin’ and Turnin'”
  4. “Don’t You Let Me Down”
  5. “That’s the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes”

Side two

  1. “Easy Thing”
  2. “Rock Me, Baby”
  3. “Kiss the Girl Goodbye”
  4. “Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll”
  5. “I Can’t Stop the Rain”
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