Part 50: Here we are at the end! We started with the first album, but I thought I’d end it with something a little special. I got this about a month ago. So: on the final KISS review before Monster, here we are with Best Of Solo Albums!
KISS – Best Of Solo Albums (German import, 1979)
The compilation was never released in North America, so here it’s quite a rarity. I have read that there never has been an official CD release either. Any CD would be a bootleg.
It’s a very even-handed and enjoyable listen. The album is divided into four sections, one for each member, and each member gets three tracks. Ace’s solo album was the most popular, so logically they started it with him, and his biggest hit.
“New York Groove” isn’t my favourite song in the world, but to start this album with anything but the big hit wouldn’t have been logical. A better song, “Rip It Out”, follows. I think this just might be the Ace’s best song. An upbeat rocker with a killer Ace riff, it easily stands up against any Kiss hit. This also offsets any lack of momentum that the mid-paced opening lacked.
“Speedin’ Back To My Baby”, another one of Ace’s best tunes, finishes his set. I like this cool rocker, although my pick from Ace’s album would have been “What’s On Your Mind”. Regardless, the album was wisely sequenced so it starts strong and finishes strong. Ace’s side assured a good start. What followed was Peter’s.
I don’t think there will ever be a consensus on the best songs from Peter Criss. It’s a pretty bland affair, and one song is hard to distinguish from another sometimes. “You Matter To Me” is, well, whatever it is. Bad 70’s synth, midtempo AM radio crap is basically what it is. “Tossin’ And Turnin'” and “Hooked On Rock And Roll” are both better, being rock and roll songs at least. Peter loans them his souful rasp and he turns in decent versions of both songs. I suppose I would have thrown in “I Can’t Stop The Rain” or “Easy Thing” instead. I guess Casablanca were avoiding the ballads. Makes sense in a way — they were probably trying to collect the songs they thought would most appeal to Kiss fans, out of Peter’s lukewarm songs.
Ace and Peter take up side 1. Gene starts side 2, another controversial album. “Radioactive” is his signiture disco-rocker, and Kiss were playing it on tour that year (as they also were with “New York Groove”). It is followed by one of Gene’s all-time best songs, “Mr. Make Believe”. This acoustic Beatles-y ballad has always been a favourite of mine. Gene’s remake of “See You In Your Dreams” finishes his suite. I prefer Kiss’ version. But again, it’s a rocker, unlike a lot of Gene’s album.
Much like Ace’s record, Paul Stanley was well received by Kiss fans, if critisized for being so Kiss-like. “Tonight You Belong To Me” is a dramatic opener and one of Paul’s greatest songs. Kiss were playing “Move On” on the Dynasty tour at this time, so it too appears. It’s not my favourite song. (That would be “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me”. ) Paul’s set, and the album, closes with “Hold Me Touch Me”, which was also a single that had some success. I think it’s a great song if a little saccharine. Paul plays the guitar solo.
As a straight listen, the album works. I mentioned how I would have swapped one song for another. Well, yeah, on paper that’s what I would have done. As an album, it works as it is. Whatever the rationale was for picking the songs, it’s a consistent listen and one I enjoyed. Now that I’ve ripped the LP to CD, and I can put that record away, for special occasions.
- ACE FREHLEY – “Rip It Out”, “New York Groove”, “Speedin’ Back to my Baby”
- PETER CRISS – “You Matter To Me”, “Tossin’ and Turnin'”, “Hooked on Rock and Roll”
- GENE SIMMONS – “Radioactive”, “Mr. Make Believe”, “See You In Your Dreams”,
- PAUL STANLEY – “Tonight You Belong To Me”, “Move On”, “Hold Me Touch Me”