Released: 1978, Mercury Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Though there will never be any dispute over who my favorite Kiss member is, Gene's solo album failed to live up to my expectations. I wanted a super-heavy, raunch-fest from the legendary "god of thunder". Instead, GENE SIMMONS offers fans a bizarre mix of Disney covers, sound effects, Married With Children's Peg Bundy, and (oh no!) more choirs. It is the most musically diverse of the four solo albums and it does not disappoint if you can listen with an open mind. My only complaint is that it is so disorganized that I can’t help but wonder why Gene was exploring so many different avenues of music. It really takes away from my enjoyment of the album. Look at this list of guest stars: Helen Reddy, Donna Summer, Cher, Katey Sagal (TV’s Peg , Bob Seger, Janis Ian, Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick, Joe Perry from Aerosmith, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter from the Doobie Brothers and the Azusa Citrus College Choir?!?!
From the get-go, “Radioactive” opens with a bizarre string section and creepy laugh. Then we're treated to Donna Summer on “Burning Up With Fever”, Cher as a groupie propositioning Gene over the phone on “Living In Sin”, a tribute to horror icon Lon Chaney on “Man of 1,000 Faces”, and finally Jiminy Cricket (I mean Gene Simmons) crooning that old Pinocchio staple, “When You Wish Upon A Star”. Wow! There is never a dull moment on this album as each song offers another surprise. You literally don't know what will be next. “See You Tonite”, “Mr. Make Believe”, and “See You In Your Dreams” (re-recorded from the original on Kiss’ ROCK AND ROLL OVER album) are the best songs on the album. At the other end of the scale we've got the dreadful trilogy of “Burning Up With Fever”, “True Confessions”, and “Living In Sin”.
At its worst, GENE SIMMONS is a messy, disjointed effort that reveals a confused artist hiding behind a gruff exterior. At best, it reveals that The Demon is actually capable of writing about more than just nailing women.
By the way, the falsetto ending of “When You Wish Upon A Star” is worth the price of the CD itself.