Go ahead and laugh. Kiss co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul
Stanley have teamed with their musical posse to release Sonic Boom — the band’s best album in at least two decades — so
clearly they are having the last laugh.
“This is a classic album with the Kiss name on it,” Stanley recently told
this writer, adding that he insisted on producing the album before he agreed to
participate. “This was the right time to make an album. I agreed to do it but I
wanted to produce it; it was important that it come out with definitive music
and be something we are proud of.”
As corny as it sounds, mission accomplished. This album, the
band’s 19th studio effort, just lost a dogfight with pop singer Michael Bublé
for the top spot on the Billboard charts,
according to Rolling Stone. Still, though, 108,000 sales are not so bad,
especially considering Sonic Boom is
a Wal-Mart exclusive.
So why all the excitement?
Because despite all the media attention about the sideshow
that continually surrounds Kiss – members’ make up, their stage attire,
Simmons’ reality show, the die-hard fan base “Kiss Army” – this is a band of
musicians. Yes, Simmons is a reality show star but he’s also a first-rate bass
guitar player. Stanley
is an actor and painter but he also is a rock guitarist that draws inspiration
from a deep musical history and love of the blues. Add to that the drumming of
Eric Singer and guitar wizardry of Tommy Thayer and you have the makings of a
killer starting line up.
With songs written by Stanley and Simmons, there’s no
stopping this band. “Modern Day Delilah,” the opening track of the album that
has garnered plenty of (well deserved) media buzz. Erstwhile guitarist Ace
Frehley may be a solo act now, but the flames still shoot out of Kiss guitars
as they sing the lyrics including this chorus: “Same old way, same old ways,
Modern Day Delilah/Each time you learn to give/Queen to slave.”
Yes, this might be writing akin to modern-day erotica but
the band has never made apologies for who they are or what they do. And why
should they? Listen to “Yes I Know Nobody’s Perfect.” The lyrics are what you’d
expect from the title but the music – with mile-deep hooks and infectious
drumming – is as close to perfect as you might well find in a rock. Same thing
with “Dangerous Us,” “I’m an Animal,” and… well, you get the idea.
In myriad interviews, Simmons has made it clear that this
album has no ballads, girl back up singers or synth. “Sonic Boom” is about what
Kiss does best, which is – of course — what makes it so explosive. The bottom
line: Kiss is still the sharpest party animal around.
Standout Tracks: “Modern Day Delilah,” “I’m an Animal.” NANCY DUNHAM