On our journey through the band Kiss, we have taken detours for one side project from every member of the band. We are almost done with that part of the journey as we only have two members left we haven’t covered. The first of those is Gene Simmons. In 2004, in between all the band’s touring, Gene managed to put together an album for his first “true” solo album. I say it that way because his first solo album was part of the 4 Kiss solo albums each member did that was under the Kiss logo. This is his first proper one. If you remember his first, you will remember it was very diverse and had a ton of guest appearances on the album. Let me tell you, this album is in no way different. It is also all over the place style wise and contains more guest appearances than any album in the history of albums…okay, that is a bit much, but there are a lot of guests.
The album was released on June 8, 2004 and didn’t do that great only going to #86 on the Billboard Charts. There is both an unedited version of the album (and cover) and an edited version of the album (and cover). The cover picture for this post is the edited as I was worried the unedited one might get dinged on Facebook or Twitter for being too offensive. And as you can see by the picture below, you get an idea of what the unedited might be like. Now, before we move on, is anyone else wondering where that finger has been in the picture below or is it just me??? I am also waiting for any minute that Sir Mix A Lot will pop out and sing his signature song…again..is that just me???
I am very familiar with this album, but not for the reason you think. It wasn’t because I ran out and bought this. Nope. I actually just bought this album a few weeks ago, because I need it to complete the collection. My familiarity with it comes from Gene Simmons ‘The Vault” as almost every song is on that collection and is on it in demo form except for maybe one or two tracks. And sometimes they are on there numerous times at different stages of completion. I will be completely honest with you…I prefer ‘The Vault’ versions immensely more than this. Why? Because at least I knew “The Vault’ versions were demos, these are supposed to be finished products, but I’m sorry, they aren’t that good AT ALL!! With minor exceptions.
The album kicks off the album with what is probably the best song on the album. And I will go further and say it is one of my favorite Gene tracks. “Sweet & Dirty Love” is a beast of a track. It rocks out with the help of Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer on guitar and drums, respectively. It is what you want the Demon to do as a song and Gene hits some killer notes and has never sounded better. I like one of ‘The Vault’ versions better only because it is a little more raw and raunchy as this is very polished. But still, the best song on the album.
The second track is a cover which is a little early to have it the #2 song on the CD in my book. And it is a strange one as Gene is covering “Firestarter” by Prodigy. The guitar work on here is fantastic as that is handled by Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction fame. Gene sticks to the original version for the most part and the song is ver industrial with that metallic sound and I know people think this song is awful, but I think it is so bad it is now good. I actually don’t mind it because I do love the music in it and Gene is being Gene which I have to admit I like at times.
Then we get to the song “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” which is another heavy song, completely balls to the walls bombastic power. There is even a punk edge to it. It has Bruce and Eric back helping out and if you take out the stupid “E Pluribus Unum” quote in the lyrics, this would a 5 star song, but I will ding it down to a 4. Another great track and really the last of the really good ones. There are two demos on ‘The Vault’, one with Eric and Tommy Thayer that is a little slower and darker. The other lyrics were written and it was given to Ace to play after it wasn’t picked for ‘Psycho Circus which was the original intention. The Ace version is killer. After this the album goes to shit.
Next we get the song Gene wrote with Bob Dylan…yes, that Bob Dylan. It is a ballad and it is bloody awful. It is called “Waiting on the Morning Light” and I think Gene is trying to be Dylan and he isn’t the Bob Dylan type of writer and that is okay, we love him for him. It is just a bad attempt at trying too hard.
Then we get a synth song called “Beautiful” with Mark Addison helping on guitars and such and Nina Singh on percussion who wrote the song. It is another ballad that has a nice chorus and is a pretty good effort that just falls short of being a great ballad. That annoying synth sound doesn’t really help. The verses are a little rough vocally, but he makes up for it in the chorus. “The Vault” version is actually cleaner sounding and I like it better than this one.
We are now at the title track “Asshole” which is rocking track where Gene embraces the whole “asshole” personae. It is a rock anthem type song that makes you want to scream “asshole” right at Gene and helps make it a fun singalong. It is still not a great song, but it will pass. Now, the edited version is atrocious as it doesn’t bleep out asshole, it just turns the “ass” part in to what sounds like a goat…it is horrendous.
“Now That You’re Gone” is a song Gene wrote with Bob Kulick. You get his daughter Sophie on background vocals along with Zachary Grant and Jeff Diehl on keyboards. The bass is real strong on this one, it has a children’s choir type sound with Sophie and Zachary. It plods along going nowhere and is totally uninteresting and lifeless and that is putting it nicely. ‘The Vault’ has three versions of this song and none are really that great.
Then we get “Whatever Turns You On” was a demo received from a band Gene was working with and Gene took it from them but it has the co-write of Dave Williams so he didn’t steal it. If you are going to steal a song, steal something better. This sounds like a bunch of drunks hanging around and partying having a good time and thought it would be a good idea to record it, but they’d be wrong. It does have his lovely wife Shannon Tweed and her mom on the background vocals along with Dave. I think with some work, this song could’ve been turned in to something better than what is here. At least they sound like they are having more fun than the listener. This one is on ‘The Vault’ as well with about the same effect, maybe a little better.
“Dog” was written by Gene and Alex Chuaqui (or Bags as Gene had him change his name as Alex Chuaqui wasn’t a good enough rock name and too ethnic) On the song Gene howls like a dog and he speaks a very sexual and dirty Little Red Riding Hood verse that is as dirty as it gets. It is a mid-tempo song and is so close to being something good. It isn’t bad, but could’ve been more.
Then we get an unexpected surprise an unfinished Frank Zappa song called “Black Tongue” that Gene licensed from the estate and finished it up with the help fo the entire Zappa family as Dweezil, Ahmet, Moon and Gail are all on background vocals. Frank even has a speaking part that was left over from the original demo. The guitar work is sensational as you would expect because it is being handled by Richie Kotzen. Zappa’s guitar riffs are their, Richie does the solo and adds some flair. It sounds like a mixture of grunge with still a hint of that Zappa psychedelic vibe. I will admit I like this song.
Next we get “Carnival of Souls” which was written by Gene and Scott Van Zen and recorded back in 1993 or 1994 originally. It was passed over for both the ‘Carnival of Souls’ album and ‘Psycho Circus’. ‘The Vault’ has two versions of it and both are really good. One version is a little slower tempo and much darker which is always a good thing. This version is heavy, speedy and a rocking track. It isn’t half bad. I will keep this one especially since it is another with Richie Kotzen on guitar. Also, Nick Tweed Simmons does the background vocals so now the whole family was involved.
Then we get what might be the worst song on the album “If I Had A Gun” is a horrible topic and just a horrible pile of dung. It sounds like what comes out of an Asshole for sure so if that was the intent, then he struck gold. Not a great song for all the gun violence we have. It slows down and speeds up and goes back and forth but feels so disconnected and utter trash. Skip this one as fast as you can. I skipped ‘The Vault’ version to and wound up on My Worst of the Vault list.
Lastly, we get a similar ending as we got on his 1978 solo album. Almost a carbon copy of that Disney sounding song is this copycat “1,000 Dreams”. This one even has a country music flair to it. Please cue the vomit inducing noise now as that is what you want to do when you hear this. More garbage and the worst way to end this album. Good Riddance.
- Sweet & Dirty Love – Keeper
- Firestarter – Keeper
- Weapons of Mass Destruction – Keeper
- Waiting for the Morning Light – Delete
- Beautiful – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Asshole – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Now That You’re Gone – Delete
- Whatever Turns You On – Delete
- Dog – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Black Tongue – Keeper
- Carnival of Souls – Keeper
- If I Had A Gun – Delete
- 1,000 Dreams – Delete
The Track Score is 6.5 out of 13 or 50% which is probably way to generous on my part. I have a soft spot for Gene, what can I say. However, I still think this album is horrible and not worth getting unless you are a diehard like me or a glutton for punishment. The songs are all over the place and there seems to be no direction and the album is definitely lacking good flow. Overall, the album only get s a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars and that is probably too high of a score but that is what I am giving it. To me, ‘The Vault’ was worth what I paid for it, but this one, not so much.
Next Up: Kiss – Rock the Nation Live ! – DVD (2005)
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)
- Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – “Reason To Live” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Chikara (1988)
- Kiss – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
- Kiss – Hot In The Shade (1989)
- Kiss – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991) – 12″ Picture Disc
- Kiss – Revenge (1992)
- Kiss – Alive III (1993)
- Kiss – Konfidential VHS (1993)
- Kiss – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)
- Kiss – MTV Unplugged (1996)
- Kiss – You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!! (1996)
- Kiss – Greatest Kiss (1997)
- Kiss – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997)
- Kiss – Psycho Circus (1998)
- Kiss – The Second Coming Documentary (1998)
- Eric Carr – Rockology (1999)
- Mark St. John – Mark St. John Project (1999)
- Eric Singer Project – ESP (1999)
- Bruce Kulick – Audiodog (2001)
- Kiss – Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (2003)
- Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004)
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