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!
“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: