Kiss sure does ask a lot from their fans. What with the annual “Farewell” tours,
reshuffled greatest hits collections (how many times can you put the word “very”
before the word “best”?), limited edition (?!) collectibles and the eternal Kiss
Koffin, a hardcore fan practically has to tithe his salary to the Kiss Army just
to keep up. So with Gene Simmons releasing his first solo effort in more than 25
years, we have to wonder: Is this another ploy to pump money into the never
ending Kiss 401K, or is this truly a labor of love put together by Gene for the
fans? Despite aspiring for the latter, we are left with the former.
Gene manages to come out of the blocks strong with the first two tracks, “Sweet
& Dirty Love” and “Firestarter.” “Sweet” is a throwback catchy rocker that is
reminiscent of the late-1970s Kiss sound. Gene quickly fast-forwards into the
21st century with a cover of Prodigy’s “Firestarter,” an industrial metal track
with an unrelenting rhythm. Dave Navarro takes a break from MTV’s “‘Til Death Do
Us Part” to pitch in on guitar. The true gem of Asshole is buried deep
into the disc (track 10), which rewards anyone still listening after tracks
three through nine. Co-written with the late (“great”? anyone?) Frank Zappa and
backed by the Zappa kids, “Black Tongue” manages to steal the show.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album takes the “throw everything at the wall and
see what sticks” mentality. Odd collaborations (from Bob Dylan to Shannon
Tweed), sappy love songs and silly lyrics make for an unfocused mess of a
listening experience. The backing vocalists on “Whatever Turns You On” sound
drunk, while the song “1000 Dreams” will give everyone terrifying flashbacks of
The Elder. If you thought the movie “Gigli” was bad, read some of the lyrics
from the title track: “But you got a personality/just like a bucket of pee/how
does it feel/to be a real asshole/you’re such a creep/you look like a sheep,
baa.” Yes, Gene actually makes the “baa” sheep sound.
For my money, the best song entitled “Asshole” still belongs to Denis Leary.
Overall, I believe Gene really did put some effort into this release and in the
process turned out three really good songs. Unfortunately, that’s only a small
piece of Gene’s Asshole.