Title: “Ikons” (boxed set)
Label: Universal Music
Release Date: 10/21/2008
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
It was only a few months ago that Universal Music released “KISS Playlist Plus” upon the world and while one thought that this would be something super special, it ended up being merely the combined releases that we previously saw as “Millennium Editions” Volumes 1, 2 and 3. To be honest, I was ok with them doing this as I felt I would now be able to save a little more room on my CD shelves but when they opted to release “Playlist Plus” without any of the original artwork inserts from the three releases I would find myself keeping the originals and just adding this new one to the pile that makes up my KISS collection. Come on Universal Music, you know how we KISS fans are with their images. With “Playlist Plus” one might have assumed that creative ways to re-deliver the KISS standards had finally run dry but alas my friends I tell you that you are wrong in this belief as I present to you “Ikons” – the newest compilation of KISS material that chooses this time to break the songs up by individual member. Given this premise we find a CD that focuses on each of the guys in the band and rather than limiting it to the core songwriting duties, the songs are based on who is actually singing them. To better understand and appreciate the release I have opted to break it down by the members. Here goes nothing.
The Demon (Gene Simmons) CD: ‘God Of Thunder’, ‘Almost Human’, ‘Calling Dr. Love’, ‘Ladies Room’, ‘Christine Sixteen’, ‘Deuce’, ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’, ‘Cold Gin’, ‘Parasite’, ‘Larger Than Life’, ‘Love ‘Em And Leave ‘Em’, ‘Plaster Caster’, ‘Radioactive’, ‘Charisma’.
*** The fourteen tracks that make up The Demon CD are pretty widely spaced and not only deliver material that he performed in KISS but also a number from his solo album that was released when all four members did that. Some of the tunes are expected ones like “God Of Thunder” and “Doctor Love” because how could it be a Gene Simmons CD and omit those choices. Interesting inclusions that we don’t always see on these compilations come via “Larger Than Life” (the studio track from “Alive II”) and “Plaster Caster” along with “Dynasty’s” “Charisma”. They really should have made this a massive celebration and added a few more tracks because it would have been nice to see something like “She’s So European” and “Almost Human” added in for good measure. It was interesting to find albums like “Revenge” and “Carnival Of Souls” and “Hot In The Shade” avoided entirely. Either way, this CD will impress the Simmons fans in the crowd.
The Star Child (Paul Stanley) CD: ‘Detroit Rock City’, ‘Love Gun’, ‘Take Me’, ‘Strutter’, ‘C’mon And Love Me’, ‘Hotter Than Hell’, ‘100,000 Years’, ‘Rock Bottom’, ‘Do You Love Me?’, ‘All American Man’, ‘Mr. Speed’, ‘I Stole Your Love’, ‘Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me’, ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’.
*** Paul’s CD continues the collection and similar to Gene’s only delivers one offering from the Starchild’s solo album and I found this to be a shame since his release was the most KISS sounding of the entire batch of them. The other songs are the expected ones with the exception of “All American Man” which I thought was a nice touch. With Simmons and Stanley being the core song writers in the group there was really a lot of room to play with and while they could have adventured deeper with their two CD’s, I still think a decent amount of choices were made.
The Space Ace (Ace Frehley) CD: ‘New York Groove’, ‘Shock Me’, ‘2,000 Man’, ‘Rocket Ride’, ‘Snow Blind’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’, ‘Talk To Me’, ‘What’s On Your Mind’, ‘Rip It Out’, ‘Save Your Love’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Two Sides Of The Coin’, ‘Dark Light’, ‘Into The Void’.
*** By the time we get to Ace’s CD we now find a lot more of the guitarist’s solo album being presented and this is primarily because he didn’t sing a lot of tunes on the KISS albums. If my memory is serving me correctly, all of the Space Ace’s KISS tracks barring one or two numbers are here and then the rest falls to his solo release. I was ok with this as I loved the Ace solo album almost as much as Paul’s as while The Starchild’s was the most “KISS-esque” of them all, the Ace album was truly the most musically diverse of the batch. The treat’s come from releases such as “The Elder” and “Unmasked” among the standard inclusion from “Love Gun” and “Alive II”. It would have been nice to see “Torpedo Girl” tossed in for good measure but alas this rocker didn’t make the cut. While most KISS fans identify Ace with “Shock Me”, it was nice to find “Hard Times” and “Into The Void” making the cut.
The Cat Man (Peter Criss) CD: ‘Hard Luck Woman’, ‘Baby Driver’, ‘Hooligan’, ‘Beth’, ‘I Can’t Stop The Rain’, ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Mainline’, ‘Don’t You Let Me Down”, ‘Dirty Livin”, ‘Getaway’, ‘Strange Ways’, ‘That’s The Kind Of Sugar Papa Likes’, ‘Easy Thing’, ‘I Finally Found My Way’.
*** The last of the CD’s falls to the Peter Criss material and he not only had the least amount of vocal performances across the whole of the KISS catalog, but he also had the most ill-received of the solo albums based on just how different it was from what the fans had expected of him. The KISS contributions are fine enough and its nice to see “Hooligan” and “Dirty Livin’” getting some love but let’s face it, the “Psycho Circus” offering of ‘I’ve Finally Found My Way” is simply dreadful. This will most likely be the least played CD of the four because the tunes are just not popular enough across the KISS legions.
Presentation wise I had to say that they did a really good job on this one, as it folks out into five separate panels that feature each of the members and one group shot. There is a 24 page booklet included that offers up a number of photos that many of us have seen before but there is also a decent introduction piece courtesy of Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs who authored the KISS authorized biography “Behind The Mask”. As a KISS fan for decades myself I feel that I can speak for a large number of us and say that while it offers up no new surprises, it is something that you will purchase anyway if you consider yourself one of the bands staunch support legions. My hope is that the next thing that Universal Music chooses to dole out on the KISS fan is some archive stuff that we have long waited for or hoped to see as opposed to the same tracks again and again in different packages. There has to be stuff out there for us to eagerly plunk the ever shrinking dollar on, so come on guys let us have it.
1. Gene Simmons
2. Paul Stanley
3. Ace Frehley
4. Peter Criss
Official Website: http://www.kissonline.com