Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gene Simmons - Asshole

Let me first preface this review by saying that I am extremely biased when it comes to anything that a member, or former member, of Kiss releases. I am one of the few people who actually own and enjoy Vinnie Vincent Invasion CDs. With that being said, I was highly anticipating the release of Gene Simmons’ solo CD. Although technically it is the first solo disc that he has released since 1978, to me, and to most Kiss fans, this is the first solo CD he has ever released. When the four original solo albums came out, it was still considered Kiss material. Asshole is certainly not Kiss material. That’s not to say that it’s not good, just different.

Gene’s decision to cover Prodigy’s Firestarter was a bad one. Maybe he wanted to show that he is hip and cool, maybe he wanted to show that he has a wide variety of musical taste, or maybe he just likes the song, but the decision was still bad. Firestarter was an awful song when Prodigy recorded it, worse now that Gene has covered it. The song has no lyrical depth, no musical power, and basically it’s horrendous. And this is the song that Gene chose to release as his first single!

There are other moments on the CD that are just as bad. Gene proves on this disc that the falsetto vocals are best left to his partner in Kiss, Paul Stanley. Waiting For The Morning Light, co-written by Bob Dylan, and Beautiful are two songs that Gene tries to put together into a higher key. He fails, miserably. Gene was not meant to sing falsetto. He can sing slow songs, World Without Heroes, and Goin’ Blind come to mind, but those are sung in a normal Gene voice, not the high pitched joke he tries here.

The CD has guest stars galore, including the aforementioned Bob Dylan (who only contributed his lyrics), Dave Navarro, Gene’s love (Shannon Tweed) and children, Eric Singer, and Bruce Kulick, just to name a few. The latter two musicians play on two tracks on the CD and it is almost a 90s Kiss revival. The songs are heavy, dark, and have a mid-90s Kiss feel to them. They are probably leftovers from the Carnival of Souls recording sessions. One of the tracks is even titled Carnival of Souls.

Asshole does have some high moments on it. Whatever Turns You On (Turns Me On) is a great song that has Gene heading in a different direction musically. He turns away from the heavy metal/grunge that he has done for most of his career and decides to throw together a clap your hands track.

The CDs title track is one of the best on the disc. Musically it is an ode to an asshole that has the perfect compliment of heavy, loud riffs and vocals, and then comes down at the proper time. Lyrically, the song could use some help. “You’ve got a personality/just like a bucket full of pee.” Perhaps Bob should have wrote more lyrics for this disc.

The most memorable track is Black Tongue. A heavy, modern Kiss-like song, it is a proclamation to the world that you can take your own stance, do your own thing, and come out on top for being yourself. There is no need to contort to what society says you should or should not do, do your own thing and believe in yourself. Gene definitely practices what he preaches and this solo CD is proof of that.

Asshole did not live up to expectations, but I did set the bar way too high. I demand too much from Kiss and from members of Kiss and I expect them to deliver. I understand what Gene was trying to do with his solo CD, but he missed the mark. If you are a Kiss fan, a casual fan, or a Gene fan, then you’ll probably enjoy this record. The rest of you may want to take a stab at Paul Stanley’s solo CD.

Ryo’s Rating 6 (out of 10)

Track Listing
Sweet & Dirty Love
Weapons O f Mass Destruction
Waiting For The Morning Light
Now That You’re Gone
Whatever Turns You On
Black Tongue
Carnival Of Souls
If I Had A Gun
1,000 Dreams

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