Label: Simmons Records
Release date: June 8, 2004

User Review
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Gene Simmons’ first solo album in more than 25 years is rich in diversity but lacks direction. It moves in so many ways; making it pretty hard to sum the album up as one piece of work. I hereby announce my resolve to review this album track by track! My treat.

1) “Sweet & Dirty Love”

Originally written for Kiss in 1977, now recorded with Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer, “Sweet & Dirty Love” starts the album with a plain rock and roll tune that doesn’t replicate anything at all to whatever Simmons has done before. There must have been a reason why this track was left out way back in the seventies. Anonymity that is.

2) “I’m The Firestarter”

Big surprise! Who would have thought Gene would have covered The Prodigy’s “Firestarter”? Interesting choice indeed, but unfortunately Simmons (and Dave Navarro on guitar) adds absolutely nothing worth mentioning to The Prodigy’s original 1996 version. It is a mystery to me why Simmons hasn’t tried to make something more out of the song than just a copy of the original.

3) “Weapons Of Mass Destruction”

Another meaningless Hard Rock song. Eric Singer is hitting the skins like mad, and Gene Simmons’ multi-layered voice is growling on top of his own, and Bruce Kulick’s, noisy guitar work. It just doesn’t sound any good at all.

4) “Waiting For The Morning Light”

Simmons brags about writing this track together with Bob Dylan. Well, Dylan’s contribution was a chord pattern, and Simmons did the rest of the song. Dylan refused to write any lyrics, even though Simmons asked him several times. However, it’s a nice little piece of music. The song sounds a bit like something Francis Dunnery would have done…although it’s a shame about the sampled drums.

5) “Beautiful”

Written by outside musicians, “Beautiful” somehow made it to a Gene Simmons solo album. It’s a pop song that kind of makes an attempt at sounding a bit sixties-ish … or whatever … it sounds outdated, and the drums and percussion are programmed on this one as well. The very cliche bridge will provoke you.

6) “Asshole”

Written by Norwegian Frank Tostrup for the band Shirleys Temple, the title track is the album’s first real good Rock song. It has a certain happy vibe to it, and the lyrics fit Simmons. The arrangement could have been less vocal oriented, since there is some real cool guitar playing going on that doesn’t get the focus it deserves.

7) “Now That You’re Gone”

Another one left over from the seventies, this song is a ballad about Gene missing his father. More bad drum arrangements, and a children’s choir, which Gene seems to love. In the end, it’s easily forgotten.

8) “Whatever Turns You On”

At last! Halfway through the album we at last get a song worth listening to over and over again! Like “Waiting For The Morning Light”, this one too has a Francis Dunnery-feel to it. The song conveys a relaxed atmosphere, a joyful groove, and features a great chorus, clever backing vocals, and for once a real band sound! Good stuff!

9) “Dog”

As you’ll see, this album gets better towards the end. When “Dog” comes sniffing around, you’ll quickly find your best friend on the album. This track largely suits Simmons’ voice, attitude, and musical history. It’s tongue-in-cheek and flat-out funny, and adds a measure of unpretentiousness that makes this track sound way better than anything on the first half of the album. The first part of the song may remind some of a bit of Cake.

10) “Black Tongue”

“Black Tongue” is built upon a guitar lick by Frank Zappa. You can hear good old Frank speak on the track as well. Like “Dog”, the song is groovy, and Dweezil Zappa’s additional guitar playing contributes to making this track one of the albums most interesting moments. Again, there are some big backing vocals, and it is the last track of these last three that makes Asshole worthy of a listen.

11) “Carnival Of Souls”

“Carnival Of Souls” was left out of Kiss’ Psycho Circus sessions, and for some real obvious reasons. Richie Kotzen plays guitar on this drum machine-backed Hard Rock song. Clever Kotzen, who has had success making drum machines sound pretty righteous earlier in his career, does not succeed in making this track a great listening experience.

12) “If I Had A Gun”

At this point, the album is all but over. Simply put, a boring track.

13) “I Dream A Thousand Dreams“

Please! You can’t be serious, Gene! A bad, bad song! A kind of attempt on writing something like “Wish Upon A Star” which he covered on his 1978 solo effort. It’s not just awful, it’s very awful.

Before the recording process, Gene, through his website, asked for fans to send him demos of songs he could use. He received almost 5000. If Asshole’s 13 tracks is the best he could come up with, I definitely don’t want to listen to the tapes left over!


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