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Album Cover Front

Album Cover Front

© (P) 1978 Casablanca Records; © 2014, The Island Def Jam Music Group. "Amazon" is a registered trademark of Amazon.com, Inc. "iTunes" is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

Discover everything you wanted to know about the KISS 1978 solo albums!



Casablanca NBLP-7120 (US, 9/18/78)
Casablanca NBPIX-7120 (US, 1978 - Picture Disc)
Casablanca/PolyGram 826-914-1/2/4 (US Reissue, 5/87, CD, 2/16/88)
Mercury 532-384-2/4 (US Remaster, 9/16/97)


A1. Radioactive (3:50) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
(USA #47, 12/2/78; CAN #66; UK #41)
A2. Burning Up With Fever (4:19) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
A3. See You Tonite (2:30) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
A4. Tunnel Of Love (3:49) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
A5. True Confessions (3:30) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
B1. Living In Sin (3:50) - Simmons/Delaney/Marks « MP3 | LYRICS »
B2. Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide (4:12) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
B3. Man Of 1,000 Faces (3:16) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
B4. Mr. Make Believe (4:00) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
B5. See You In Your Dreams (2:48) - Simmons « MP3 | LYRICS »
B6. When You Wish Upon A Star (2:44) - Washington/Harline « MP3 | LYRICS »


Produced by Sean Delaney and Gene Simmons. Recorded at The Manor, Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire, England; Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles, CA; and Blue Rock Studio, New York City, NY, April - July 1978. Mixed at Trident Studios, London, England, by Mike Stone, John Brand, Allen Douglass and Frank D'Amico. The album was originally intended to the titled "Man of 1,000 Faces," but the overall marketing plan for the four solo albums changed that. Early pressings include "Something seem larh" etched into the wax as part of an inside joke.

Chart Action:

Chart Peak (USA): #22 (1/6/79) with 22 weeks on charts. Other countries: AUZ #32; CAN #21; JAP #24.


"Gene Simmons" was certified gold and platinum by the RIAA on 10/2/78. It has sold over 31,000 copies since the SoundScan era commenced in 1991. The album was certified gold by the CRIA (Canada) for sales of 50,000 copies on 12/1/78. Contemporaneously, Casablanca had shipped 1,391,411 copies of Gene's album by the end of June 1979, the most of any of the solo albums.

Performed Live:

"Radioactive" was performed by KISS during the 1979 "Return of KISS" tour. "See You Tonite" was a common song performed on the 1995 convention tour and appeared on the "MTV Unplugged" album. Parts of other songs were attempted on occasion.

KISS Album Focus:

The rejection of KISS' music has long been considered a matter of listeners hearing with their eyes, and ultimately failing to give the music a fair evaluation on the grounds that they neither like nor understand the band's image. For Gene Simmons, who had often been judged by such parameters from the band's beginnings, the same could be said to be the case when fans picked up his 1978 solo album. In some ways, it was his (and each member's) own fault: He had allowed himself to generally be typecast growling out material more aligned with his onstage persona, with a couple of exceptions that hinted to a different side of his musical character. Offstage, the man behind the mask was quite a different creature creatively. Few had heard his softer side, asides perhaps on "Great Expectations," a song that lacked any of the subtle introspection or vulnerability present in his numerous acoustic works, or "Goin' Blind," for which little really needs to be said. There's a duality encompassed within the whole "Gene Simmons" package. Is it ego-maniacal or a psychological need that drives the man to thank just about everyone he's encountered since arriving in America in 1958 -- except the kitchen sink? Is it a name-dropping narcissist who has a guest list that shouts "look here -- look at me," or is it simply a matter of someone who's amazed at the success his work has brought that allows him to celebrate a solo-outing with such guests and wants to share that joy? It's probably a mix of both, and it is probably unwise to measure the 1978 version of Gene against the perception of him more than thirty years later.

If fans were expecting an album full of songs in the vein of "Almost Human" then they'd have had few reference points to consider what Gene might have had in mind. For Gene, the premise for the albums was simple, both for him and the other members of the band: "I've never done this kind of stuff before [on a KISS record]; it would have been too much of a departure. It's another thing to have 'God of Thunder' on and album with 'Mr. Make Believe' which I think will be out by the time the article is so everyone will know what it sounds like. I guess the big secret about all of us in the band is that we have all been writing different kinds of songs all along and because of all the self-imposed restrictions, you know, about how we are supposed to sound like. We've never done them. It's no one's fault, it's just the way we wanted to sound like" (Rock Magazine). In an interview with Steve Rosen, Gene explained the goals of his solo album: "I wanted to do the songs in a way that when people listened to them they wouldn't say, 'God, listen to all the guitars.' What I wanted is to have people sit down and say the songs are good. The songs were given a nice kind of honest treatment, and the arrangements are such that you aren't constantly distracted by particular instruments... That's part of the sound; you can play with that because you're already comfortable with it. If you're [producer] Phil Spector, you can have a wall of sound that people understand -- that's the style you're dealing with, that's the genre -- and then the song works naturally and you're not stumbling over: 'Gee, that's a big sound.' If you're Pink Floyd and all of a sudden you sound like KISS, everybody will say, 'Whoa, wait a minute,' and then they don't pay attention to the song" (Guitar Player, 1978). In essence, he wanted to challenge the listener and make the song the focus while not being cornered by his role within KISS. He recalled the decision to play guitars on the album instead of bass: "A bass player in a band and he goes into a different kind of record is usually handicapped in a sense because if he's played bass on the record then everything's going to revolve around that. These were different kinds of songs" (Hit Parader, 2/79).

Of the four members of KISS, Gene was the only one to truly embrace the concept of going solo. That meant breaking away from the concept of KISS, and the boundaries the band imposed in order to remain within the confines of what the fans found acceptable. The band had discovered its niche, and while experimenting with "Destroyer," they had quickly retreated to their original premise for the albums that followed. For Gene, it wasn't just a matter of thinking outside of the box, but removing the boundaries the "box" represented completely -- or in essence getting a new box! Ace and Paul rocked out, honing their material to represent the ultimate "fully realized" versions of themselves. With few exceptions neither digressed too far from their existing personal musical definitions within the band -- their music was generally what one would have expected it to be. Peter too, while straying far from the bread and butter of KISS, remained honest to the sort of material he'd brought to KISS -- were one to judge his solo album then it's second only to Gene's at breaking away from the "KISS" mould. Like a magician, he wanted to surprise the listener: "They're the kind of songs nobody has ever known that I'm capable of writing, number one; or that I could sing at least two octaves above the voice that I use on record, number two; and that in fact that I had a different voice at all, number three" (Hit Parader, 2/79). Gene, if nothing else provokes, teases and cajoles the listener. He presents the demon in the Ron Frangipane composed introduction to "Radioactive," and then goes 90 degrees sideways into a classic 50s rock 'n roll direction with full piano embellishments and touches of funky bass lines, along with sound-effects and female backing-vocals. In some ways it was pure Las Vegas, a precursor to what KISS became (visually at least) in 1979. According to Gene the introduction was, "Janis Ian... Singing in Latin... The Latin says something like, 'I see no evil, I hear no evil, it's not around me at all'" (Rock Magazine). In another interview Gene suggests that the Latin was similarly supposed to mean "I am pure but I am surrounded by evil" (Hit Parader, 2/79).

And that introductory piece, straight out of the Bob Ezrin playbook of audio storytelling, is the album's "I am not just the 'Demon'" declaration, something that the rest of the album lives up to. The discordant acoustic introduction to "Burning up with Fever" serves as to segue to the KISS cast-off track. Who would expect classical guitar on a Gene Simmons album? Well, he could and he did. With an almost Southern-revival chorus one can nearly see Gene preaching from the pulpit while a robe-clad choir sings the refrain. While these opening tracks may have been more of the up-tempo and familiar material on the album, they couldn't be further away from the imagery generated by and for KISS. "See You Tonite" seals the deal with its beautiful and evocative acoustic arrangement. It is quite nearly impossible to be further removed from the music of KISS than with this song. The harmonies pay homage to the material of Lennon & McCartney, yet orchestral flourishes also take the material into the realm of Simon & Garfunkel. Taken from his past it offers the listener a glimpse into the young and developing Gene, circa 1970.

"Tunnel of Love" returns the listener to more comfortable rock territory with a song initially rejected from the "Love Gun" that dated from Gene's brief involvement with the then unknown Van Halen brothers (they performed on the original demo of the song with him in late-1976). In one sense it's almost inexplicable that they weren't brought in as guests for the studio version at the time given Gene's relationship with the band at the start of their career and their "You Really Got Me" single hitting #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts in early 1978. In fact Gene had considered having Ace guest for the guitar solo for the song! "True Confessions" continues in the same vein as "Radioactive" as good time rock 'n roll, powered by piano and strong backing vocals; in this case featuring Helen Reddy. According to Gene, "Helen Reddy was incredibly straight. She was like, 'I am woman, glorified.' She had a song called 'I Am Woman' and that was her big hit and I think she was offended by all this male 'cock rock' type of music, but she was willing to do it" (Special Delivery #13). And that must have made her a heck of a trophy for his cavalcade of guests. While the demon may have been celebrating a type of music closer to the 1950s he was also celebrating the lifestyle he had attained by 1978 and perhaps just slightly mocked himself with "Living in Sin." One that one track Gene's "Hello Baby" again harkens back to the 1950s and the "Big" Bopper's famed introduction on his hit "Chantilly Lace." For that matter, so too the hysterical Cher and Chastity Bono telephone conversation alludes to Bopper's phone call and the subject matter to what Gene was known to like!

Returning to material with a Beatle-esque feel is the hybrid "Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide." With a melody generally reused in 1981 as part of "Only You" the piece is more of a lounge music style that ambles in a somewhat directionless manner, building with acoustic guitars, harmonies, electric sections, orchestras, and backing vocals, until it transitions into the "Nowhere to Hide" section. If nothing else it is representative of the "kitchen-sink" or blender approach where everything is thrown into the mix, perhaps for the sake of art. "Man of 1,000 Faces" pays homage to the nickname of one of Gene's Hollywood horror film heroes, Lon Chaney, though it also serves as an obvious claim to the title for Gene himself -- if the music on the album were not illustrative enough to make that point. The 1978 form of the song was more autobiographical in nature. Gene recalled, "Although nobody's going to see behind the mask, what I'm trying to tell everybody is that it really isn't a mask. It's just one of the different faces, and everybody's got many, many different faces. And people are not the same with any two people" (Grooves, 1978). The song had originally been intended for a KISS album, but was deemed unsuitable at the time. Gene recalled, "I've been meaning to do that for about four years now. Originally it was going to be on 'Dressed To Kill,' but we all decided that it would be too early and it would be showing too much" (Hit Parader, 2/79).

Like other material, "Mr. Make Believe" alludes to an exploration of his character with powerful backing vocals and harmonies that had permeated his pre-Wicked Lester compositions. The song was one of Gene's first attempts to write a song about himself. "See You In Your Dreams" was an opportunity to allow Gene to right what he had felt had been a failure with the KISS version recorded for the "Rock And Roll Over" album. Unfortunately, Gene wasn't particularly happy with this version either: "In my head I heard much more a Humble Pie thing, but it came off sounding much poppier than that" (Firehouse #58). It did allow Gene to bring in Michael Des Barres to scream along with the girl backing vocals. Perhaps a result of this second attempt this is the sole song on the album to have a true KISS feel on it.

Gene opted to close the album with the unexpected, as if the other material on the album had been "expected" -- a cover of "When You Wish Upon A Star," a sentimental tip of the hat to the Disney cartoons that helped Gene learn English soon after moving to America in 1958. Gene recalled the importance of the song: "When I first heard that song I could barely speak English but I knew the words were true. Anybody can have what they want; the world and life can give its rewards to anyone" (Kerrang #160). Additionally, Gene's belief in the subject matter of the song -- that all things are possible -- embodies the American dream, something that he has certainly accomplished: "The lyrics are the heaviest lyrics that have ever been written because they can apply to anybody. Anybody who's got a dream can relate to them... But I think it's universal at the same time. It can be personal to everybody. It doesn't have anything to do with age or sex or anything" (Grooves, 1978).

The primary recordings for the album were completed at The Manor in England following the conclusion of the Japanese tour in April 1978. Most of the guests recorded at Cherokee Studios in June and July following the conclusion of filming of the TV movie. Following mixing at Trident Studios in London, some last minute overdubs were recorded at Blue Rock Studios in New York in July. Putting the album under the spotlight simply illuminates the incredible amount of influences integrated and expressed by Gene's effort. It's too easy to dismiss the album as pompous and self-gratifying simply because of a perceived overload of guests or the excessive "thank you" messages which at times appears to simply be name-dropping for the sake of doing so. Ultimately, behind the mask the musical contents are far more representative of the man and artist than perhaps was obvious.

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