KISS – ’78 Solo Albums, Hollywood style (Album Review, KISSmas in July)

KISS - '78 Solo AlbumsFive decades ago, the biggest band on this continent, a free nation, conceived in Liberty, dedicated themselves to the proposition that all bands are not created equal.  Although Abraham Lincoln had died 113 years prior to KISS embarking on the seemingly impossible journey of releasing 4 solo albums on the same day, I think he would’ve been proud of how far our country had come along.  Can you imagine Lincoln in Ace’s makeup?

So, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the releases…. which some say were a flop (I may agree, but we got some great music out of the endeavor), I wanted to share my rankings of songs from each specific solo album for Decibel Geek’s KISSmas in July.

Before we begin… let me say right of the gate…. No KISS fan will agree with me.  Let’s face it, the KISS Army never agrees with each other.  That is what makes us awesome.  Share your opinion with me, if you dare 😊

Ranking are WORST TO BEST within each solo album vs. all songs in one ranking (which would’ve been unfair since I like 2 of the albums better than the other 2).

**Peter Criss** KISS – ’78 Solo Albums

“Kiss the Girl Goodbye” – If you are a Charles Barkley fan, this is “turrrabul”. Translation for everyone else, TERRIBLE!

“Easy Thing” – You know I love my ballads…. But this one is just not good.

“That’s the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes” – Love the guitar tone, besides that… I’m a Papa and I have a sweet tooth but this ain’t the kind of sugar I like.

“Tossin’ and Turnin’” – So, you finally get to do a solo album, prove that you can write great songs, and you do a cover? Why? The original version by Bobby Lewis is much better.

“Rock Me, Baby” – Nothing stellar by any means, but the other 3 are worse.

“I’m Gonna Love You” – Starting the album with this pop/R&B style track shows that he is influenced by different music vs. the “other” guys in KISS

“You Matter to Me” – The most “disco” track. The keyboard riff is memorable.

“I Can’t Stop the Rain” – Best chorus of all the ballads. Catchy tune.

“Don’t You Let Me Down” – I really like this song…. Maybe because it sounds like “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters?

“Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Finally, what I was looking for in a Peter album. Definitely in his vocal bang zone.

I have publicly stated that I don’t like Peter’s solo album.  That still stands true.  When I first heard it, I was looking forward to hearing 10 “Strange Ways” or “Mainline” type songs.  I wasn’t aware that he didn’t write those.  If the songs were more guitar driven, Peter would’ve been compared to Bob Seger or Rod Stewart who were huge at the time.  He missed an opportunity.

**Gene Simmons** – KISS – ’78 Solo Albums

KISS Solo Albums“When You Wish Upon a Star” – Come on Gene. Why? Thanks to The Vault we now know you had TONS of songs, so again I ask…. Why?

“Always Near You/Nowhere to Hide” – A song title with 2 song names makes sense because it sounds like 2 songs awkwardly jammed together.

“Living in Sin” – I’m not judging the sin… to each their own. But the lyrics, “I’m living in sin at the Holiday Inn”. Really?  We can’t do any better than that?

“Tunnel of Love” – The song drags a bit and the chorus is boring.

“Burning Up with Fever” – Love the chorus, including the backing vocals but the rest of the song does nothing for me.

“Mr. Make Believe” – Everyone knows that Gene loves The Beatles and it shows up big in this song. Good one overall.

“Man of 1,000 Faces” – This is one of those songs that I’ll hum without realizing it. Like the orchestral feel.

“True Confessions” – Catchy track with great backing vocals. I like that the song is more upbeat.

“See You Tonite” – Again, VERY Beatles. I’m not the biggest Beatles fan, but I do like this song.

“See You in Your Dreams” – I’m not sure why Gene would re-release a song only 2 years later than the original, but I liked the 1st version…. this one is a bit different but still done well.

“Radioactive” – Started the album with the best song, smart move.KISS Solo Albums

Gene’s album has grown on me over the years.  I still don’t seek it out for a regular listen, but I tolerate it better nowadays.

**Ace Frehley** – KISS – ’78 Solo Albums

“Fractured Mirror” – A pretty piece but I am not a huge instrumental fan unless it’s someone like Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen.

“Wiped-Out” – Love the upbeat feel. The changes between the verse and chorus are a bit weird. I like the verse melody much better.

“Ozone” – Love the guitar riff but the chorus needs work. See #4 (“Snow Blind”) for more detail.

“New York Groove” – The dreaded “cover”. At least Ace kills it. This version is 10 times better than any other version I’ve heard.  Now that’s how you do a cover!

“I’m In Need of Love” – Who’s not? I know I am. Love the delay in the guitar riff…

“Snow Blind” – This song used to be my favorite when I was partaking in my daily bottle of Jack Daniels. Since sobering up a bit, it’s dropped in the ranking 😊

“What’s on Your Mind?” – Radio friendly catchy tune. One of Ace’s best choruses.

“Rip It Out” – In my opinion, a CLASSIC Ace song. How can you not love this song?

“Speedin’ Back to My Baby” – It only beat out #2 because I absolutely LOVE the riff and guitar solo.

Ace’s effort is a classic.  There were rumors that he held back music written during Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun eras for his solo album…. I say WHO CARES.  I’m glad Ace’s solo album put him firmly in a leading role on Dynasty and possibly gave him the final push he needed to go out on his own.

**Paul Stanley** – KISS – ’78 Solo Albums

“Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We’re Apart)” – Something had to be #9. This song doesn’t deserve it but today it drew the short straw.

“Ain’t Quite Right”Paul could’ve sold this to Rod Stewart and had a top-10 hit.

“Love in Chains” – One of the few heavy guitar riff driven songs. Could’ve easily ended up on a KISS album.

“Take Me Away (Together as One)” – An outstanding emotional power ballad that every band wishes they could write.

“It’s Alright” – Great mid-tempo track with a memorable guitar riff.

“Goodbye” – This song rings in my ears every time I’m away from the wife for a while.

“Move On” – Super catchy verse and chorus. “…. you don’t understand, but babe I don’t want you to cry…”

“Wouldn’t You Like to Know Me”“You’re good lookin’ so you get your way…”, but of course you do! I’m not sure why this wasn’t a hit single.

“Tonight You Belong to Me” – Love the ballad to bombastic nature of the song. ABSOLUTE GOLD!

Ranking Paul’s album is brutal for me.  Every song is top notch, pop excellence.  I have listened to this album at least once a month for the last 30 years.  A deserted island necessity……

Again, I welcome your feedback.  Pooni out!

Buy: KISS Solo albums

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COMMENTS

  • Bill H. Elam, Esquire

    Not too brutal, Sonny. My picks are pretty close to yours. But I’ll list a few minute differences.

    While not a huge fan of Peter’s album, I think as far as rockers go- I’d have ‘I’m Gonna Love You’ a little higher ranked among the others- maybe 5th or so.

    Gene’s falls into my 3rd of 4 spot as well. But I am a much bigger fan of ‘Living in Sin’ than you seem to be. I think it has an ‘Exile’ era Stones kind of groove to it, and would be much better dirtied up a little bit. (It is the Holiday Inn, after all- right?)

    My picks for Ace’s mirrors yours (albeit somewhat fractured to a degree- see what I did there? ;-p)
    ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ should have been the single (who picked these singles, anyway?) and my #1 & #2 flip-flop on an almost daily basis.

    In another example of ‘who picked these singles?’ Comes Paul’s album (which has at least 3 solid single contenders from the get-go)
    ‘It’s Alright,’ ‘Tonight, You Belong to Me,’ and ‘Take Me Away (Together as One) would have all been radio staples. I think with none of the above being chosen makes a good case for the record company/management avoided releasing blockbusters.

    Great article, one of these days I’ll find time to explore more of your work.

  • I agree with the order, but I did like Peter’s album a bit more than you. Paul proved he is the strongest and most consistent songwriter while Gene proves he is not afraid to experiment.

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