Sean's Kanadian KISS
The Solo Albums 1978
I have rated each
album on a scale of 1 to 5 demon boots (5 being the best) according to
my own tastes. Remember, these are my own
and should be taken as such. Scroll down the page, or click on the
album title to go directly to the review.
Released September 18, 1978
I'm Gonna Love You/ You Matter To Me/ Tossin'
and Turnin'/ Don't You Let Me Down/ That's The Kind of Sugar Papa Likes/
Easy Thing/ Rock Me Baby/ Kiss The Girl Goodbye/ Hooked On Rock and Roll/
I Can't Stop The Rain
I find, like most other KISS fans do, that Peter
Criss is the most disappointing of the 4 solo albums. Has anyone
ever noticed that there seem to be 2 theories on Peter Criss: 1)
Peter is the crown jewel of KISS whose drumming and vocals were never appreciated
by the money-hungry Paul and Gene, or 2) a hack jazz drummer with
a god-awful voice who couldn't write a good song if he had a gun to his
head, and made a name for himself simply by being in an otherwise talented
group (can you say Ringo Starr?). Sorry Catman fans...I tend to lean
towards the latter.
That aside, Peter Criss does have
a few good songs on it, most notably I'm Gonna Love You and You
Matter To Me. I Can't Stop The Rain and Hooked On Rock
'N' Roll are OK; the rest of the songs are awful. Even when I
try to separate the album from being linked to KISS, I still can't give
it any praise. I should note though that my impression of this
album has increased significantly in recent years (maybe it's my advancing
age?!). You should have heard what I thought about the album 5 years
It is interesting though how much different Peter's
songs are from the KISS "sound". There really isn't any song on the
album that would fit into the KISS canon. However that was one of
the main points in Peter leaving the band; he felt that his songs weren't
accepted by Paul and Gene. I do feel, though, that Paul and Gene
were wise in limiting the number of songs that Peter contributed to KISS.
His songs just don't have that KISS "feel" to them and the fact that Peter's
album was the lowest-selling of the four proves this point.
Peter was already unhappy with the lack of acceptance of his songs by KISS.
He felt that a solo effort would get his songs recognized and he would
be given the credit he felt he deserved as a songwriter. Although
Criss reached platinum status, it was the lowest-selling of the four
solo albums which frustrated Peter even more; it was likely the straw that
broke the camel's back. Within 2 years, Peter was out of KISS.
Peter felt that he would pay tribute to his musical influences on Peter
Criss, giving it an R&B feel.
Peter was born George Peter John Criscuola on December 20, 1945 in Brooklyn,
Peter's hero was Frank Sinatra.
Peter's first drumming gig was at a bar mitzvah playing Hava Nagila.
Peter got a call from Gene and Paul after placing an ad in Rolling Stone
advertising himself as "a drummer with eleven years experience willing
to do anything to make it".
Peter's first "real" band was Chelsea who got a two-album deal with Decca
Records in 1969. Chelsea would later morph into Lips in 1970.
Peter was heavily influenced by jazz and swing music, especially Gene Krupa,
and his drumming often conveyed that style.
Peter married his first wife, Lydia, in 1972.
The first KISS song Peter played was Strutter which Gene and Paul
had been working on.
Peter was unable to play drums on every track because of a car accident
in June of 1978 that injured his hands. Another result of this car
crash was that Peter ended up short on material and had to use unreleased
songs co-written by Stan Penridge (who co-wrote Beth with Peter)
from his pre-KISS endeavor, Lips.
All of Peter's dialogue in the October 1978 TV movie KISS Meets The
Phantom of The Park was dubbed by Norman Alden, the voice of Aquaman
on NBC's The All-New Super Friends Hour. Peter refused to
go back to the studio to record his loops so Alden was forced to dub in
all of Peter's dialogue.
Each of the four solo albums contained a fold-out animated color poster
of the respective member.
$2.5 million was spent by Casablanca in marketing the 4 solo albums.
Peaked at # 43 on Billboard's album chart.
to go to Criss Cat Club, the one and only Peter Criss web page.
Click here to read my reviews of Peter Criss'
post-KISS solo albums.
Released September 18, 1978
Rip It Out/ Speedin' Back To My Baby/ Snow
Blind/ Ozone/ What's On Your Mind?/ New York Groove/ I'm In Need of Love/
Wiped-Out/ Fractured Mirror
Ace's solo is the most surprising because up
until that point, we had only heard him sing 2 songs: Shock Me and
With Ace Frehley, he, of course, sings on
8 of the 9 tracks and it is arguably the best of the solo efforts.
There really isn't a bad song in the bunch although Wiped-Out is
a little weaker than the rest. New York Groove, I'm In
Need Of Love, Rip It Out, and Speedin' Back To My Baby
are the best songs on the album followed closely by the instrumental Fractured
Mirror, which showcases Ace's incredible talent on guitar (as if we
didn't know already). There are a lot of weird sound effects that
can be heard on the album which shows that Ace was willing to make the
most of his solo effort by experimenting with different sounds.
Overall, Ace Frehley outshines Gene's, Paul's
and, especially Peter's albums in musicianship to be my favorite by far.
Ace designed the KISS logo.
Ace was born Paul Daniel Frehley on April 22, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York.
Ace ran with street gangs as a kid.
Ace joined the band after answering an ad in The Village Voice asking
for a "lead guitarist with flash and ability".
Ace recorded an album for RCA Records with his band Millemo in 1971 that
has never been released.
Ace cites Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and The Who as his biggest influences.
Ace's wife, Jeanette, whom he married in May of 1976, co-wrote Speedin'
Back To My Baby with him.
Anton Fig and Will Lee, later of the David Letterman show's CBS Orchestra,
played drums and bass on the album, respectively. Anton Fig would
also work with Ace in Frehley's Comet a decade later.
Snow Blind, Ozone, and Wiped-Out showcase Ace's favorite
hobby at the time: drugs and booze. In fact, Ace's weekly Dom Perignon
bill at the time was reported to be $1,000!
Eddie Kramer produced Ace Frehley as Ace was pleased with Kramer's
work on Alive!, Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun, and
II. Kramer also produced KISS' original demo tape that they pitched
to Casablanca Records in 1973.
Ace Frehley was recorded at Ace's new home studio, "The Mansion"
in Sharon, Connecticut.
Ace's album reached # 26 on Billboard's album charts--second in
position only to Gene's.
New York Groove is a cover of the 1975 U.K. hit by the group, Hello.
Ace's solo album helped him overcome his fear of singing lead hence his
vocals became more evident on the next 3 albums.
Ace's next solo effort wouldn't come to light until 1987's Frehley's
Check out the best Ace Frehley site on the Net--acefrehley.com.
Click here to read my reviews of Ace's post-KISS
Released September 18, 1978
Radioactive/ Burning Up With Fever/ See You
Tonite/ Tunnel of Love/ True Confessions/ Living In Sin/ Always Near You/
Nowhere To Hide/ Man of 1,000 Faces/ Mr. Make Believe/ See You In Your
Dreams/ When You Wish Upon a Star
Though there will never be any dispute over who my
favorite KISS member is, Gene's album failed to live up to what I was hoping
for--a super-heavy, raunch-fest from the evil "god of thunder and rock
and roll". What Gene Simmons offers the fans is a bizarre
mixture of Disney songs, sound effects, Kate Sagal (Married With Children's
Peg Bundy), and (oh no!) more choirs. It is the most musically diverse
of the four solo albums but it does not disappoint if you can listen with
an open mind.
From the get-go, Radioactive opens with a
bizarre string section and creepy laugh. Then we're treated to Donna
Summer on Burning Up With Fever, Cher as a groupie propositioning
Gene over the phone on Living In Sin, a tribute to Lon Chaney on
of 1,000 Faces, and finally Jiminy Cricket (I mean Gene Simmons) crooning
that old Pinocchio staple, When You Wish Upon A Star.
Wow! There is never a dull moment on this album as each song offers
another surprise. You literally don't know what will be next.
Gene belting out an aria with Pavarotti? See You Tonite, Mr.
Make Believe, and
See You In Your Dreams are the best songs
on the album. At the other end of the scale we've got the dreadful
threesome of Burning Up With Fever, True Confessions, and
In Sin. Gene Simmons clearly shows that The Demon
of writing about more than just nailing women. Best moment on Gene
Simmons: the falsetto ending of When You Wish Upon A Star.
Gene went for real musical diversity with his special guests on the album;
Bob Seger, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, country star Helen Reddy, Donna Summer,
Janis Ian, Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, Cher, Kate Sagal (Peg Bundy), The
Doobie Brothers guitarist, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and the Azusa Citrus College
Choir. Gene also wanted Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr., Dinah Shore, Paul
McCartney, and Chaka Khan to appear on his album but they did not for various
reasons. The result was one of the most expensive records ever produced
at the time.
Ace Frehley was supposed to play the guitar solo on Tunnel of Love
but commitments to his own solo album prevented it.
Gene Simmons was the highest charting of the four solo albums, peaking
at # 22 on the Billboard album chart.
Gene Simmons was recorded by Gene and Double Platinum producer
Sean Delaney in a barn near Oxford, England.
Gene was born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel on August 25, 1949. He
came to the United States at age 9 and soon changed his name to Gene Klein.
At 6'2", Gene is the tallest member of KISS.
Gene can speak several languages including Hebrew, Hungarian, Spanish,
and of course, English.
Gene is the only original KISS member with a post-secondary education,
having graduated from Richmond College in Staten Island, New York with
a teaching degree.
Gene trained to be a rabbi as a teenager but chose to become a teacher
instead. He would eventually teach sixth grade in New York's Spanish
Gene worked as an editorial assistant for Vogue and Glamour
Gene is a huge horror movie fan. His favorite actors include Bela
Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and silent horror film star Lon Chaney. Gene
paid homage to Chaney with Man of 1,000 Faces, which was the
actor's nickname. Chaney always did his own makeup for his films
including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the original Phantom
of the Opera and earned the nickname for his ability to transform himself
into indistinguishable characters.
A magician named Amaze-O taught Gene how to breathe fire.
During the mid 1970's, Gene wore braces on his bottom teeth.
By early 1978, Gene was in a heavy relationship with Cher and was acting
as a father-figure for her 2 children, Chastity and Elijah (Yikes!).
Problems occurred because Cher was a big star at the time and was constantly
being photographed by the press; Gene of course had that makeup thing where
he wanted to keep his identity a secret. Gene went so far as to invest
a reported $1 million into purchasing and furnishing a lavish New York
apartment for Cher and her kids but once it was completed in the summer
of 1980, their relationship dissolved.
Gene wrote some songs with Bob Dylan in the 1990's.
In the early 1980's, Gene had cosmetic surgery done on his nose.
Gene's album was the most heavily criticized by fans and critics who dismissed
it as being "silly", "strange", and "stupid". This caused Gene to
return to what he traditionally was writing about--that's right...nailing
Gene re-recorded See You In Your Dreams because he wasn't happy
with the original version on Rock and Roll Over.
Gene's collection of Polaroids catalogue the reported 2,000 women he has
Check out The Gene
Simmons Worship Page, or The
Demon's Lair. Also available is the Gene Simmons filmography
at the Internet
Released September 18, 1978
Tonight You Belong to Me/ Move On/ Ain't Quite
Right/ Wouldn't You Like to Know Me?/ Take Me Away (Together As One)/ It's
Alright/ Hold, Me Touch Me (Think of Me When We're Apart)/ Love In Chains/
Paul Stanley is the most KISS-like of the
four solo albums, probably because Paul is the main songwriter and vocalist
in the band (duh). It is for this reason that Paul's album is my
second favorite behind Ace's. I've always felt that Paul Stanley
has one of the best voices in rock and roll (and as the reunion tour showed,
he's still got it!). The vocals on the album are excellent as usual
and I really like all the acoustic guitars.
Tonight You Belong To Me, Love In Chains,
On, It's Alright, Wouldn't You Like To Know Me, and Ain't
Quite Right are great songs with the catchy hooks that Paul always
manages to nail. Ain't Quite Right reminds me a lot of I
Still Love You from Creatures of The Night.
There are ballads aplenty here especially Hold
Me Touch Me (Think of Me When We're Apart) and Ain't Quite Right
all the charm of a good KISS weeper like Beth or Forever.
The only songs that don't quite measure up to the rest are Take Me Away
(Together As One) and Goodbye. They just aren't as grabbing
as the rest of the material on Paul Stanley.
Overall, this album is a very listenable and worthy
Paul was born Stanley Harvey Eisen on January 20, 1952 and grew up in Queens,
Paul attended the New York City High School of Music and Art, which was
later made famous on the TV show, Fame. He later moved on to Bronx
Community College as an art major, but did not graduate.
Paul suffered from a cauliflower ear until surgery corrected the deformity.
In 1967, Paul recorded a demo with his band Post War Baby Boom called Never
Loving, Never Living that remains unreleased.
Before Paul developed his Starchild makeup, he sported what has become
known as the Bandit, which featured a Lone Ranger-type mask across his
eyes. It can be seen in early promo shots for the KISS album.
Paul enlisted the talents of Bob Kulick (who previously worked on the new
tracks from Alive II, and was likely going to be the guitarist for
KISS before Ace auditioned) and Rod Stewart's drummer, Carmine Appice,
in recording the album.
Paul Stanley's first outside songwriting job was a song co-written with
Desmond Child titled "The Fight" that appeared on a 1979 album by Desmond
and his band Rouge.
Paul once dated Cher's sister, Georganne LaPiere.
Peaked on the Billboard album chart at # 40--only Peter's album
charted worse, at #43.
The Solo Albums
News & Updates Link It Up
KISS Member Bios
My KISS Tattoo Library
of Natural KISStory About Me