It’s August 25th and you know what that means. Happy birthday Gene Simmons! Another year older, another year wiser.
I have a tradition of listening to his whole solo album from 1978 on this day every year. I haven’t got a chance to give you my thoughts on it so this time I will:
The first time I listened to something by Gene only, I was expecting something brutal and dark, but then again, everyone at first got that impression when they bought this record back in the day. Instead you get a variety things that were totally unexpected from someone like him. I remember reading in his autobiography that he wanted a ton of co-stars on it and wanted it to full of the music he was influenced with.
Radioactive is very misleading the way it starts up. You automatically think: “Oh here comes the horror music we were all expecting” but then it changes completely, and at first you’re like “What is this?” but then after a few listens, I thought it was pretty catchy and I think you warm up to it, you just need to give it a chance.
Burning Up with Fever is a personal favourite of mine. Not really digging the backing vocals because I believe he could sing this himself just fine, but you know Gene, he wants to be the biggest star and thought that was the fastest way to get there back then. I really like the solo in it and the lyrics are catchy too.
See You Tonight I never was really into, but it’s a very calming and short to listen to. It’s not something I listen to a lot. It’s a good song but in a way it’s not something that I would listen all the time.
Tunnel of Love as an opening beat that turns me on. I’d say it’s another favourite of mine; mostly it’s the beat and melody that I like about it first. I heard that Donna Summer does backing vocals on it, I’m not certain, but I believe there was something about her doing a few backing vocals on the album. When I first listened to this album, this was the first song that appealed to me along with Radioactive. Whenever I listen to it, I imagine myself in a tunnel of love with him (and his age has been reduced to match mine so no one thinks this scenerio is pedophilia)
True Confessions is another track I never really listen to that much unless I feel like listening to the entire album unless it’s a day like today. But the melody is pretty good I’ll admit. The name of it makes me think of the very end of the Tom Snyder interview. Watch it and you’ll know what I mean. The riff is pretty good in this one and I just might listen to this one more now.
Living in Sin is a track that has proven itself to be one of Gene’s “let’s go back to my room and have sex” pick up lines back in the day. It’s very easy to tell. But aside from that, it’s a very catchy tune and I love the bridge part. Some of my fellow KISS fans like to use this song to tease me. I don’t listen to it a lot but when I do, I’m thinking about the times where my friends used to do that to me. The one thing that always makes me melt from this song is the opening beat and when he speaks with such a deep tone before jumping into song.
Always Near You/Nowhere to Hide I have similar feelings for compared to See You Tonight. It’s a softer song that hasn’t exactly appealed to me yet. But I will admit that it’s still a solid song that I still need to warm up to a little more before I can determine that I love it or not.
Man of 1000 of Faces is a very sinister song in my opinion. It may not sound like it, but if you watch KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, you might hear it playing during that scene where Abner Devereaux prefers to make KISS androids, it depends on which version of the movie you have. It sounds like an evil plot unfolding when you listen to it. I’m not a huge fan of it yet but that could be subject to change.
Mr. Make Believe sounds classic and it’s another song you might here in KMPP depending which version you have. It didn’t seem like the right song to hear at the end of the movie (this is from the European version that I heard it). But it’s a type of song that belongs elsewhere in a way. Still a good tune though but kind of basic.
See You in Your Dreams, I must admit I wasn’t expecting Gene to redo this track on his album, and get backup vocals for it. It’s pretty good, but personally, I love the Rock & Roll Over version of this song better.
Finally, When You Wish Upon a Star is another completely unexpected thing from someone like Gene, but the moment I heard it, my eyes were sparkling with tears. He sang it beautifully and it goes and shows you that the message behind it is that, you can make your dreams come true, no matter what. Gene’s not afraid to admit that he’s a big fan of Disney by covering this classic song. I think this song was the perfect way to end off the album.
Basically, Gene’s solo album is very misunderstood and unexpected from many. It’s pretty good and at the same time I wish it could have been better. I didn’t think there was any need for any backing vocals. As for the general sound, if he wanted to that because it sounds similar to the music he grow up with, then I don’t see any problem with that. I’m going to give this album a B.
So what are your thoughts are this album? Leave your comments below.
Happy birthday to you again Gene.