Saturday, August 09, 2008
Gene Simmons Solo Album: See You Tonight
Good lord, but the drama that ensued in my junior high KISS-world when the 1978 solo albums came out! There were judgments flung about hither and yon RE which of the four you chose (or could afford) to buy and what that said about you as a person; which of the albums "rocked" or didn't.
While "rocking" wasn't an issue for me personally (I just wanted to see the individual band members' SOULS), I remember having an argument in the junior-high cafeteria lunch-line with a self-proclaimed FORMER KISS fan who said he wouldn't listen to KISS any more because NONE of the solo albums rocked! (Me: "You KNOW that Ace Frehley's album rocks!")
The solo KISS albums that I bought (or, rather, had given to me at my request) were Gene's and Ace's. Did I regret my choices? Nah. I later heard Paul's and Peter's albums at my friend Debbie's house--- Paul's just sounded like generic KISS. Peter's, like the blues/soul that I'd read he was inspired by and that I absolutely was not interested in when I was 13. (And am still not today.)
Ace's, on the other hand, had the completely catchy, driven "New York Groove" on it, plus the advantage of his being a previous dark horse in the band---what he had to say musically was different and interesting, a lot harder and less melodic and more thrashingly guitar-propelled than what the band had previously put out.
And Gene, I had just always liked the best. (Any time we'd dress up, I was Gene; I had a Gene-face cake for one birthday; I had a Gene solo album T-shirt made at the local mall.) Maybe because of songs like "Goin' Blind" on the "Hotter Than Hell" album---"I'm 93, you're 16 / and I think I'm goin' blind..." Or "God of Thunder," which opened with eerie, demonic kids' giggling. He always wrote darker than Paul, and had odder themes. They often weren't as good songs tunefully, but were more interesting to listen to lyrically and atmospherically. (There was nothing more fun or atmospheric when I was 13 than listening to the demonic KISS in a candle-lit bedroom at a sleep-over.)
Above is my favorite song, "See You Tonight," from the Gene album, performed later at some unplugged venue. Completely non-dark and uncharacteristically, for Gene, Beatle-esque. I loved it at the time, and I've still been hearing it in my head now for the past 30 years.
In a side note: The junior high girlfriend that I'd listen to KISS with---she went on to become a real-life groupie and actually slept with Gene Simmons. When I met up with her again last year here in the NY area for the first time in over 20 years, I expressed admiration for that feat. She said, logically, "There's nothing great about sleeping with rock stars." But I, nonetheless, still think that there is. Anybody can sleep with local guys and get married to them and live in the same town they grew up in. Not anybody can go out on the road with rock stars and sleep with Gene Simmons. (Lord knows, I couldn't even get into Julian Lennon's hotel room, though I made it to the outside of his door!) My friend did something extraordinary.