THREE-VIEW: KISS – Best of Solo Albums (Japanese CD)

  Best of Solo Albums (Originally 1979, 2020 Universal Japan CD)

Third review for this Kiss compilation here, but why?  A couple reasons.  For one, it’s the first-ever official CD release of this album!  It took 41 years for them to finally put out a CD, and yet only in Japan.  More remarkably, there is one track here that I’ve never heard before in this particular version.

That song is the incredible Paul Stanley epic “Take Me Away (Together As One)”.  On Paul’s solo disc, it fades away at the end of side one at 5:35 in length.  Here, it goes to 5:48, no fade, right to the end of the track.  It’s an ending I’ve never heard before.  This song isn’t even on the more common European version of Best of Solo Albums, just the Japanese.  And apparently the CD has an unreleased version without the fade.

“Oh boy!” you exclaim.  “I have to buy this import just to get 13 seconds of music I never heard before?”

No.  You don’t have to buy it.  I did, because I wanted a copy of this album on CD.  When I discovered the longer version of the track, I was ecstatic to unexpectedly get something extra for my money.

There’s no need to review this album track by track again.  I’ve done it twice, and I’ve also reviewed all four solos albums twice each.  There’s really no need to run through all the songs again, although this tracklist is quite different.  Unlike the European version, these songs are not arranged in three-track blocks for each member.  Additionally, seven of the European tracks were substituted with others.  That’s more than half the album!

Gene Simmons:  Instead of “Mr. Make Believe” and “See You In Your Dreams”, Japan used “See You Tonite” and “Living In Sin”

Paul Stanley:  “Move On” was replaced by the unreleased version of “Take Me Away (Together As One)”.

Ace Frehley:  “Speedin’ Back to my Baby” was removed in favour of the instrumental “Fractured Mirror”

Peter Criss:  All three of the Cat’s songs – “You Matter To Me”, “Tossin’ and Turnin’”, and “Hooked on Rock and Roll” were replaced!  I guess Japan didn’t care for those as much as they did “Don’t You Let Me Down”, “Rock Me Baby” and “I Can’t Stop the Rain”.

For me, I prefer the running order that Europe used, with each member of the band getting three songs in a chunk.  However, there are plenty of songs that I prefer on the Japanese version, such as “See You Tonite”, “Take Me Away (Together As One), “I Can’t Stop the Rain” and “Don’t You Let Me Down”.

It’s interesting that the solo albums are by and large panned by the masses, but nobody can agree on the “Best Of“.  Maybe those albums weren’t so bad after all, at least when you distil them down to the essential tracks.  The Japanese CD will become my preferred listening experience for two main reasons:  it sounds better than the vinyl, and I like more of the songs.  It would sound even better if I had an MQA decoder, a new-ish hi-resolution CD format from Japan, which will unlock an even better sounding version of the album, if you have a few grand to spend on upgrading your system.  If not, enjoy the disc and stellar packaging, with not one but two different covers to display.

4/5 stars

 

31 comments

  1. MQA-CD? We really need another format? DVD-A, Blu-ray, SACD, HDCD, and normal CD doesn’t cover it?

    Sounds like another fad that will come and go. Like CD Video, Video CD, etc.

    If Metal Machine Music comes out on it though, I’ll be all over it. How hires is this anyway? 24/96? 24/192? 64 bit floating point file at a 192 kHz sample rate?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So it gives you extended frequency range outside the perception of human hearing, but reduces bit depth which decreases dynamic range? This is weird stuff.

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  2. I’d never heard of MQA-CD. Ha, to me, trying to make another format stick is like whomever tried to make Amazeballs a thing and, clearly, neither one stuck. Poor Peter Criss, getting all three songs replaced, but it’s cool they finally put this on CD (it only took most of my lifetime to do it, apparently).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see the Peter thing the other way around — people have so many favourites of his that no single tracklist can capture them!

      MQA will not stick, it’s in Japan only, and buying the equipment is suuuuuuper expensive.

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        1. Yeah my uncle had a CD player in 87 or so. He was all about showing off his wealth. LOL. I remember there weren’t many CDs out yet, but he had Good Morning Vietnam on hand to demo the CD player for us.

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        2. Yeah well, he was an interesting character that has been out of our lives for 20 years and I have no problem with that! I should tell you what happened to him when he moved to Africa.

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  3. best of solos? Not sure if I have this. Is it stand alone release or part of some box set? As a kid I had Paul and Gene’s solos taped on the same cassette. That’s why those 2 are most familiar to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That they do! But if you think about it, it’s kinda crazy NOT to do a Best of Solo Albums. I mean, look how many versions of any given release you can buy. 1 CD, 2 CD, 1 LP, 3 LP, Blu-ray, GAH!

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        1. They’re not all as bad as they’re made out to be. In fact Paul’s solo album is in my Top 3 of All Time.

          1. Black Sabbath – Born Again
          2. Deep Purple – Fireball
          3. Paul Stanley – Paul Stanley

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