14 June 2014

Kiss - Unmasked

I am so distractable at times - right in the middle of a back log of blogs and I start this one just because my mate placed a picture of the cover on his Facebook feed.  Now much to my surprise, this is actually only the third Kiss album to be reviewed on the blog; considering there is some hardcore Kiss fans amongst us it is a little bit of a surprise.  Anyway, a bit of background into the album - released in 1980, this album shows Kiss on a decline.  In America it was the first album since 1975 not to reach the converted platinum status in the USA, it was the first album not to have vocal contributions from all band members and it was also the first album not to feature all the original members. Whilst drummer Peter Criss was credited as the drummer on the album, all the work was done by Anton Fig (although this was amended years later).  It also marked a departure from the classic Kiss sound in terms that they went with a more pop direction in terms of songs.  For a lot of Kiss fans, this was when the band ended, but how does it translate to 2014?

Starting the album is "Is That You?" which does not sound too out of place to be honest.  It is just a fun, early 80's rock/pop song to be honest with a great vocal delivery by Paul Stanley.  You can tell the difference in the drumming, so I don't know why they were trying to fool people that it was Criss. Not a bad thing, just the difference in styles is obvious. I cannot find anything wrong here; if I am honest it is slightly better than some of their more famed works. "Shandi" meanwhile is a different story - this is much more on the pop side and could have easily been made by Paul McCartney in his solo days.  But again I find myself tapping along to it and not hating it.  Granted it is not "Strutter", but it is still better than 90% of "Hot In The Shade" - but only just. "Talk To Me" is another rock song on here that would have been hailed as a classic if it was off a different Kiss album, but because it is on here it is buried.  With Ace Frehley on vocals, it is one of the more fun tracks on here; so far I am struggling to find something that make the pasting that this album gets justified.  The only thing I feel is it could have been about half a minute shorter, but that is a personal thing.

"Naked City" is the first song on the album with Gene Simmons, as you would expect it is much more rockier than most of the album.  But it also has an almost reggae drop in the verses.  There is such a fusion of styles on this album so far that it could be shown to be more fun that I would have expected.  "Naked City" is a great tune, again it is no classic anthem; but it is unfairly ignored.  "What Makes The World Go Around" has Stanley back on the vocals, and the power pop is out in force.  This is the most fun song on the album, it is just stupid, sickly sweet and I love it.  I am smiling whilst typing, listening with the windows open and I am sure the police will be around soon.  It is simple and stupid - what is there not to like.  "Tomorrow" is next and Uncle Paul is still on vocal duty, it is not as much fun as "What Makes The World Go Around" but it is still not a poor song.  It is just a pop song that is not out to change the world, it is out to make the public dance/smile.  "Two Sides Of The Coin" is Frehley song, with a large slice of 70's glam and the best parts of 80's pop rock I have difficulty in stopping the smile from slicing my head off.

"She's So European" has the Demon on the vocals and is about a lady being European.  Lyrically it is really awful, not quite Blur awful; but I find them to be a little silly.  That said, it is a stupid pop song and whilst it is the runt of the litter, it is by no means the worst thing I have heard from them.  "Easy As It Seems" sounds like it could have been made for a disco and is a large slice of Kiss-cheddar (LEAVE THAT PHRASE ALONE SIMMONS, I HAVE ALREADY COPYRIGHTED IT!!!!); again I cannot stop smiling at this.  It is just simple, not too serious and a joy to listen to. "Torpedo Girl" is the last of the songs from Frehley and is the poorest of his trio, but nothing is stopping this song from being a great little rock number.  It is still better than a lot of the Bon Jovi back catalogue. Ending the album is "You All That I Want", which is brilliant little closer. With the best delivery on the album from Simmons, it just brings this to a close with a swagger of not giving a shit.  They just let loose and it makes for a much more refreshing ending for me.

As I came into this album without many expectations, I have to say it is just a fun album.  Is it their best album? Good god, no.  Is it their worst album? Again, it is not.  It is just a fun 80's rock album; you do not have to take it seriously as it is not a serious album.  It is just fun and worth checking out.  Just get your arse out of your head and put it on. You might actually enjoy it....

7.5 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

Top track - What Makes The World Go Around

You can purchase one of the versions of the album on Amazon here

You can visit the Kiss website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

Here is a link for Deezer users

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