REVIEW: Gene Simmons – Family Jewels Season One (with bonus CD)

Purchased in February 2013, at the same store in which Uncle Meat used to work.  I paid $9.99, used.

GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS – The Complete Season One (2004 A&E with bonus CD)

Since my primary interest in adding this to my collection is the music rather than the TV show, I’ll discuss the CD first.  The bonus CD is apparently an Amazon.com (not .ca) exclusive, currently selling for about $13 plus shipping.  The CD comprises just two songs:  ”Rain Keeps Falling” (sounds like a possible Crazy Nights/Hot in the Shade outtake) and “You’re My Reason For Living” (sounds much more recent).  These are from the “forthcoming” Gene Simmons box set called Monster.  (I’m guessing he won’t be using that title now eh?)  Considering that Amazon.com still advertises the Gene Simmons Monster box set as “coming in 2007”, I wonder how much longer it’ll be!

With demos of this nature it’s fairly usual for Gene to play all instruments himself and have a drum machine behind him, and that’s how “Rain Keeps Falling” comes across.  The guitar work is basic but it gets the idea across, but I do hate the sound of a drum machine!  It’s a pretty decent song.  The verses could use some work  but I think the choruses are pretty good!

SAM_2299“You’re My Reason For Living” is a ballad, and sounds like it could have been demoed for the Asshole album.  It’s too bad it’s not on there, as it would have been the classiest song on the album.  It was actually written long ago, pre-Kiss, but it’s obvious that this is a much more recent rendition.  This is a very basic soul song, as interpreted by Gene.  Although his voice is pretty limited, the intentions behind it sounds sincere.  It wouldn’t be a hit unless Gene gave it away to a more appropriate artist, but as a bonus track on a box set it’s a bit of alright!

[Note:  In my post-review proof reading and fact verifying, I discovered that “You’re My Reason For Living” was in fact included on Asshole…the Japanese version.  Along with another unreleased track called “Everybody Knows”.]

As for the DVDs:  when this show first started I was skeptical.  Ozzy had made a bit of a clown of himself on The Osbournes, and count on Gene Simmons to see an opportunity to promote himself.  So the formula’s basically the same, a rock star family in humourous situations, a funny dad, etc.  I preferred season one of Gene Simmons Family Jewels to Ozzy’s show, and although I didn’t keep up with the show regularly afterwards, I still think this set is pretty entertaining.

I like that, compared to The Osbournes, there’s hardly any cussing. Very rarely do you hear the “beeps” (and yes, it’s all beeps, no actual cussing).  I also found the family/”characters” to be more likeable. Nick Simmons is a bright, funny young guy, and who doesn’t love Shannon Tweed?  (Loved you back in the 80’s version of The Liar’s Club, Shannon!). Third, you can understand what Gene is saying, unlike the Ozzman (although that is certainly part of Ozzy’s charm).

I think my favourite episode was “Fan…tastic”, during which an awkward Gene Simmons spent his day with a mega mega mega FAN.  And Shannon loves every second.  She invited the mega-fan home to have dinner with Gene and the fam.  And isn’t Gene just thrilled.  Another episode, the “unaired pilot”, depicts Gene grilling the boy who is about to take young Sophie Simmons out to the dance. Just a priceless moment. I felt very sorry for that poor young man who had to sit across a very large desk from Mr. Simmons, and be grilled about dating his young daughter.

For Kiss fans and probably non-Kiss fans as well, I think this season is:

4/5 stars

10 comments

  1. I just couldn’t get in to this show. I think I preferred the Osbournes… by a baw hair. But that was probably just because it came first. By the end of the 1st series of that I’d had enough. Interesting to read an Ozzy interview recently where he said that period was his least favourite of his career.

    Looks like you got a good deal here for some KISs-related rarities! Nice!

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      1. Yeah exactly, they’re a novelty for a while if you’re lucky! How long did Family Jewels run for anyway (assuming it’s not still going)?

        Hahah I like to throw in a Scottish phrase for you every now and again… a baw hair is “ball hair” as in a testicle hair! So “by a baw hair” means close.

        Now you can use that phrase in your everyday conversations. :)

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        1. It lasted about 8 seasons but I only watched occasionally. I didn’t like stuff such as the plastic surgery episodes, or the ones about Gene and Shannon’s relationship problems. I believe that was all scripted to “Enable” Gene to get married without losing his image.

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        2. That was my problem with even the early episodes. It was so clearly scripted, whereas The Osbournes seemed more spontaneous (even if it probably wasn’t).

          The thought of him trying to save face regarding finally tying the knot does not surprise me. I even wondered if he got married to increase the profile of the show! I’m such a cynic sometimes!!

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        3. I have no doubt that when Gene finally decided to get marriage, all this was discussed. He made a lot of money on his lecture tour, telling people about all the financial and relationship reasons to never ever get married. Then he got married. Have to spin that…

          And if you can boost the ratings of a successful TV show? Two birds one stone!

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  2. I like the thought of a soul song interpreted by Gene. In my head it sounds hilarious. Never saw an episode of the show. Now I know I was right to name my daughter what we did, if Gene did it too! ;)

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      1. A quick search of my Lebrain folder says no, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t. I may have missed one.

        The name Sophie suits our daughter perfectly. We’re lucky with both kids, they look like their names. Is that weird to say? Or maybe I’m with them so much I just see it anyway? I dunno, I just think their names suit them. Like, I couldn’t imagine our son, to see him now, named Bob. All deference to the name Robert, it just wouldn’t suit him, you know?

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