No, you are not reading things wrong. This is part of the Kiss Review Series. You may ask yourself why because Wendy O. Williams was a part of the Plasmatics, she wasn’t in Kiss? How can this possibly be a part of this series? There are so many reasons why and I will go on record and say that this might be the best Kiss album that is not a Kiss album. WTF??? Am I smoking some weed, have I been drinking? The answer to both of this is None of your business. I guess I need to explain myself a little.
This is part of the Kiss series because nearly every member of Kiss at the time was on this album, most songs were written by members of Kiss and Gene Simmons was the producer of this album. Basically, it is a Kiss album. The bass player on this album was named Reginald Van Helsing who was actually Gene. And a funny point about the bass playing…Gene played Bass on more of these songs than he has on any Kiss album around this time period. What other Kiss members were on this album? Here is the list…
- Paul Stanley
- Ace Frehley
- Eric Carr
- Vinnie Vincent
So, yes…this is part of the Kiss Review Series!
Enough about that. Wendy O. Williams was the lead singer of the punk band, the Plasmatics and on her first solo attempt, she wrangled Gene Simmons to be her producer (or he wrangled her to let him). When the album came out, it had mixed reviews. A lot of the Plasmatics fans weren’t real thrilled as this was more of a rock album in the same vein as Kiss and much less than the punk rock sound of her previous band. In my opinion, that should be the case. It should sound different. It is a solo album for goodness sakes and not another Plasmatics album. Now, the album did have some of her former band mates including Wes Beach on guitar and T.C. Tolliver on drums. Strangely enough, Jean Beauvior from the band was not on this album because he was actually busy song writing with Paul Stanley and playing bass on a few Kiss songs since Gene was busy doing this…small world.
As I said, the album didn’t do great, but it didn’t do half bad either. Wendy’s performance did garner her a Grammy nomination in 1985 for “Best Female Rock Vocalist of the Year”. That is pretty awesome. Of course she did lose as some little known singer named Tina Turner took the prize home that year.
That is enough talking right now, let us get to the music, but before we do that, I don’t own this album yet on vinyl, but I am so looking for it out there as it will make a great addition to the Kiss Collection. Now away we go to the music…
The first song on the album is called “I Love Sex (And Rock And Roll)” which was written by a slew of people including Gene Simmons, Wes Beach, Rod Swenson, T.C. Tolliver and Richie Stotts. I guess each member must have contributed a small piece because it is not an overly complicated sounding song. It is a ballbuster of a track, heavy on the drum sound and that drum sound is eerily similar to the Kiss ‘Creatures of the Night’ drum sound. None of the Kiss guys, other than Gene, are credited on this song, but the guitar is also a familiar sound. It is a pure Gene type song as it encapsulates sex and rock & roll. Wendy’s gritty sounding vocals are great for rock and were great for punk too and her scream at the end is pure rock & roll. Great opening track.
The next song is actually one of my favorite Kiss songs called “It’s My Life”. It was written by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons which is rare at this time that they would write a song together as they normally wrote separately. Wendy attacks with all her heart and she does a great job. This is such a fun, anthemic song which is why it was the first single on the album (and only single). This song was demoed for ‘Creatures’, but not used and given to Wendy to do. Kiss would later demo it again for ‘Psycho Circus’, but again didn’t make the album. Kiss finally released that demo on the Kiss Box Set and Gene released the original demo on ‘The Vault’.
“Priestess” is one of the few songs, no Kiss member wrote, but Gene did do the bass work. It was written by Wes Beech, Rod Swenson, Chris Romanelli and Richie Stotts. It is a heavy rocker with a wickedly good solo by Wes Beach. This song to me really fits the personae of Wendy as it is as outrageous as she is.
We then get another Kiss song, this time it is “Thief In the Night” which was written by Gene and Mitch Weissman and Kiss actually performed it on their 1987 album ‘Crazy Nights’. This version has nasty rawness, it is rough around the edges and has a little more balls then the Kiss version. Micheal Ray’s lead guitar work is great as he nailed the solo for this one. This is another rocking track and 4 solid tracks in a row.
The last track on Side 1 is “Opus in Cm7” and it slows things down a little, but still rocks out. It was written by Rod Swenson and Chris Romanelli. The song mentions Karen Silkwood in the very first line and appears to be a shoutout to her bravery. If you don’t know Karen Silkwood, she was the person who raised safety issues at a Nuclear power plant and broke the news publicly. It was such a big deal, they actually made a movie about her called ‘Silkwood’ in 1983. It is a very moving and touching song and it is nice to see the softer side of Wendy who was a very underrated talent.
Side 2 kicks off with the rocker, “Ready to Rock” which was written by Rod Swenson, Chris Romanelli and Richie Stotts. The cool thing about this track is that some of the guitar work was handled by Paul Stanley. This song brings back some of that heavy drum sound that pounds throughout and there is a cool guitar riff that comes in and out. Wendy screams out the lyrics with such power and is another powerful anthem which starts off the side with a vengeance. It sounds like it could fit on any Kiss album around this time, but not sure if I would want Paul or Gene singing.
“Bump And Grind” attacks you next with Ace Frehley on lead guitar and that is all you want in a song anyway, right!! The song was written by Wes Beech, Rod Swenson, T.C. Tolliver, Chris Romanelli and Richie Stotts. Again another song by a lot of people that doesn’t seem that hard to write, but whatever. The title of the song doesn’t hide anything as to what this about and Wendy’s grunt at the beginning of the doesn’t either. There is nothing subtle about this it is pure energy, pure rock & roll nastiness. And hell yeah!!! Now, could you tell it as Ace on the solo…yeah!! The funny thing is, I don’t know how well the solo fit the song, but I still loved hearing Ace as he was no longer in the band at this point.
Now we get to one of my favorite songs on the album “Legends Never Die” which was written by Gene Simmons, Adam Mitchell and Micki Free. This also happens to be one of my favorite songs on Gene’s ‘The Vault’ with him singing, but you can read that in ‘The Vault’ review. It is a ballad and Wendy does her best to soften her voice and personae to fit the mood of the song and she does a great job. The drum work on this is obviously the late, great, Eric Carr. He doesn’t have a lot of opportunities to show off, but you can tell that sound is him. A nice change of tempo for the album and at its essence is a great song.
The last track is another all Kiss writing song with Gene Simmons, Eric Carr and Vinnie Vincent called “Ain’t None of Your Business”. The song is an all out rocker, but a little all over the place and not an overly memorable song. I can see why it didn’t make any Kiss album. Although Wendy does with what she can and it does have a catchy chorus, but all around pretty weak. It does have Vinnie on guitar and he throws in riffs all over the place and for no reason whatsoever. If there was a weak song on the album, this is it for me.
- I Love Sex (And Rock And Roll) – Keeper
- It’s My Life – Keeper
- Priestess – Keeper
- Thief in the Night – Keeper
- Opus in Cm7 – Keeper
- Ready to Rock – Keeper
- Bump ‘N’ Grind – Keeper
- Legends Never Die – Keeper
- Ain’t None of Your Business – Delete
The Track Score is 8 out of 9 or 89% which is way better than I would’ve expected when I decided to review this one. I had never listened to it before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe it is all the Kiss connections and the sound was familiar and I knew a couple of the songs already as Kiss has done them since. I found Wendy O. Williams vocals to be great rock vocals with a lot of edge or more balls than some rock singers. I have to say, I will listen to this again and again. For that, I am going to give it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. Yes, the album has some faults, but for a straight-up rock album, it fits the bill nicely. You couldn’t ask for much more than this.
Next Up: Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
The Kiss Review Series:
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Kiss (1974)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
- Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
- Kiss – Alive! (1975)
- Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
- Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
- Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
- Kiss – The Originals (1976)
- Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
- Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
- Kiss – Alive II (1977)
- Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
- Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
- Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
- Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
- Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
- Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
- Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
- Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
- Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
- Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
- Kiss – Killers (1982)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
- Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
- Kiss – Animalize (1984)
- Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
- Kiss – Asylum (1985)
- Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
- Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
- Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
- Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
- Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
- Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
Kiss – The Box Set:
- The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)
Gene Simmons – The Vault:
- Part 1 – The Grand Opening
- Part 2 – Disk 1
- Part 3 – Disk 2
- Part 4 – Disk 3
- Part 5 – Disk 4
- Part 6 – Disk 5
- Part 7 – Disk 6
- Part 8 – Disk 7
- Part 9 – Disk 8
- Part 10 – Disk 9
- Part 11 – Disk 10
- Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
- Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
- Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
- Part 15 – The Final Verdict
94 thoughts on “Wendy O. Williams – ‘WOW’ (1984) – Album Review (Bonus Edition – The Kiss Review Series)”
I was still young, but very aware, of the Plasmatics. I did not, however, realize how “big” they were at the time and how they took what the Sex Pistols did and expanded upon it.(And I now understand why Capitol took them from Stiff). At the time, I thought Wendy and the band were just a late night talk show curiosity: something for the dorky and disconnected Tom Synder to poke fun at (like when David Letterman had no clue what do to do with John Doe and X; I recall the ‘Matics on ABC’S Fridays back in the day). As I became older and learned more about the Plasmatics . . . well, those Plasmatics album still spin, over here. Each are great records (expect for their “big rock move” with Coup d’etat on Capitol, where they tried to be Motorhead; it has since grown on me). As for W.O.W., I applaud Gene and the boys for their attempt to transition her — though it failed. Now, those two Jean Beauvoir solo albums: those really were disappointing. So, while W.O.W. isn’t great for a favorite, definitely for the win over Jean’s solo albums.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I knew of the Plasmatics, but they were too outrageous for me when I was a kid. I look back more fondly of them now. I did find a vinyl copy of W.O.W. and I was so excited to add it to the Kiss Collection.
Yeah, I was just a bit older than you (it seems), so I could stay up for things like ABC’s Fridays. As you, my appreciation grew after the fact (I wished I was older and more aware, then), when you think of the way the ‘Matics combined theatre, performance art, and music. It, at first, looks like idiocy, but is actually very intelligently executed (and the music solid, I feel). Rod Swenson, the mastermind, was a very intelligent person.
Gene knew what he was doing. Kiss was a downward slide and Wendy (and the rest of ‘Matics) were the new vanguard. He was smart — even though it didn’t work out — to hitch the Kiss wagons.
LikeLiked by 1 person
They always looked like chaos, but I get it now and they were something else. Kiss was trying to do anything and everything to stay relevant. It was a tough time for them.
LikeLiked by 1 person