best of solo albums

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


RE-REVIEW: KISS – Best of Solo Albums (1979) #0wordchallenge

Brief explanation:  After the #200wordchallenge, I was inspired to come up with an even more daunting task.   Could I do a review in 0 words — without using any words at all?  I invite you to the #0wordchallenge!  Mine is below, but use your imagination and come up with something uniquely you!  This review is a part of…


  Best of Solo Albums (1979 Phonogram)

Original review:  2012/09/03

Part 115: The Rockmobile!

RECORD STORE TALES PART 115:  The Rockmobile!

In the early 2000’s, somebody thought it would be a good idea to spend money on some company cars.  Now, I’m no accountant.  I’m no expert on finances.  But I would have thought it would make more sense to pay mileage cheques on time than to buy a mini-fleet of cars!

They were Azteks.  They were painted in our store colours and had G-I-A-N-T store logos plastered all over them.  It was like driving a giant logo board.  They were hideous.  I only rode in one, once.  They tried to get me to lease one though.

“Hey Mike.  How would you like to drive one of these babies?”

Wha?  Why would I want to when I had my own car that I bought, that wasn’t a big ugly moving billboard?  Let me tell you something people.  They weren’t just ugly, they were fugly!

I guess the idea here was advertizing;  mobile advertizing.  I’m not too sure if that worked.  I don’t know how many people driving down the street would see a car like that and go, “Quick honey, write down that phone number — I need some CDs!”


Coincidentally, GM slashed the price of the Aztek right around the time we got ours…

I think two or three people drove the Azteks.  I heard they weren’t that great.  I think we even got a phone call complaining about somebody’s driving.  Like, “Hey, that idiot in the CD Car cut me off!  I’m phoning their boss.”  I’d hate to own one of those and somebody see it in my driveway.  “Hey, that’s the guy who only gave me $1 for my Mellencamp!  Let’s go egg his house!”

So, I happily drove my own car instead of one of those ugly RockSuckmobiles.  They were phased out a couple years later.  The great experiment had presumably failed, because the Azteks were no more.  Never to be seen again.  Thank God.



REVIEW: KISS – Best Of Solo Albums (1979)

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.

4/5 stars.

Side 1

  • 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”

Side 2

  • GENE SIMMONS – “Radioactive”, “Mr. Make Believe”, “See You In Your Dreams”,
  • PAUL STANLEY – “Tonight You Belong To Me”, “Move On”, “Hold Me Touch Me”