January 08, 2022

Gene Simmons - Asshole (2004)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hard Rock
Label Number: BG2 84670

© 2004 Sanctuary Records
"Sweet & Dirty Love," the rocking kickoff to ***HOLE, could be one of the lesser tracks on KissDouble Platinum. It rocks, it's simple, it's what Gene Simmons is best at, but it doesn't hint at the mess of an album to follow. The can't-believe-it's-so-faithful-to-the-original cover of Prodigy's "Firestarter" is the first clue that the album is an indulgent mess. "Firestarter"'s sampling/composition credit means that the BreedersKim Deal will receive royalty checks because of its inclusion on ***HOLE, and that's brilliant in anyone's book. That's the thing about ***HOLE: you don't listen and engage with it as much as sit back and marvel at it, as in "how does he get away with it, and on such a grand scale?" How the God of Thunder can think a faithful cover of a techno song is a good idea for anything but the next throwaway soundtrack you're offered is just one of the fascinating blunders on the Simmons-produced, totally Simmons ***HOLE, but that's not what cripples it. Some outside help would have noticed that the album's cyclical layout makes listening to it in one sitting a chore. The pattern goes two or three rockers that all sound like big statement, album openers followed by dreamy, Beatlesque "every night I wonder why" ballads. Gene Simmons singing ballads with a chorus of "oohs" behind him is something easy to take potshots at, but you can tell he cares about what he's doing for a change. The ballads find Simmons sounding as earnest and inspired as he did delivering "A World Without Heroes" or his first solo album's "When You Wish Upon a Star." It's a side he rarely shows, and boy is it freakish. Just as weird is the fact that Bob Dylan sat with the Demon and co-wrote the very plain "Waiting for the Morning Light." That tops the bit of trivia that Lou Reed once co-wrote with Simmons, but it doesn't outfreak the fact that "Black Tongue"'s writers' credit reads Simmons/Zappa (that the fabulous, glittery photographer David LaChapelle was hired for the cover is freakout number three). Why Gail Zappa handed over some old tapes of Frank to Simmons is anyone's guess, but he builds an almost worthy rocker around the bit of Frank-on-tape, and the Zappa kids seem to be having a lot of fun singing backup. It's almost infectious, but more so is the singalong title track, even better on the edited version of the album since all the naughty "A" words get replaced with a ridiculous sheep bleat. "Whatever Turns You On (Turns Me On)" is the other singalong, but this time it's groovy with a near jam band feel. Former playmate Shannon Tweed and her family are in the chorus just to make it extra freaky. The rest of the album is just elaborate sludge and fluff with ho-hum music and lyrics that Simmons must think "clever" and "provocative" ("If I Had a Gun": "If I had a gun/I'd have me some fun/I'd shoot everyone who pisses me off today/So don't piss me off today"). There's no way a new artist could have gotten away with an album so over the top, so gonzo, and so misguided, but at least Simmons takes more chances on his own than he does with Kiss. It just beats buying the remastered Kiss Unmasked if you're a member of the Kiss Army and have finished paying off your Kiss Kasket. Everyone else who is merely curious should wait till it hits the cutout bins, get the edited version for the sheep bleats, and be happy that Kim Deal and Shannon Tweed are getting paid.

tags: gene simmons, asshole, 2004, flac,


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