Back in 2013, to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the day all four original members of Kiss released their own solo albums (Sept. 18, 1978), we asked our readers to choose the best 10 songs from the 39 that appear on the records. The results varied dramatically, with one member of the group hogging more than half of the list and another being shut out completely. As you can see, lead guitarist Ace Frehley was the big winner, and Paul Stanley did pretty good for himself too. Gene Simmons, who treated his album as an experimental vacation, turns up just once. As for Peter Criss? Well, he got dissed pretty hard, with his highest-ranking song barely cracking the Top 20 of our countdown. Here are the tracks you chose as the Top 10 Kiss Solo Album Songs.
The Kiss solo albums were made, at least partially, because some members were frustrated with the creative direction of the band or their roles within the group. It doesn't seem Paul Stanley suffered from anything like that, though. Left to his own devices, he basically just made another (darn good) Kiss record, primarily composed of straight-ahead, hooky anthems like this one.
Besides the undeniable quality of the music, it was the element of surprise that helped Ace Frehley's solo album steal much of the spotlight from his bandmates. Even though he had written or co-written several well-known songs for the group, he had taken only one lead vocal ("Shock Me") on a Kiss album at that point. So it was quite a pleasant shock to hear him deliver confident, charismatic vocal performances on tracks like this woozy, lurching ode to a night of overindulgence.
"Wouldn't You Like to Know Me"Paul Stanley
Paul Stanley has always been a champion of the (tragically underappreciated) early-'70s power-pop sensations the Raspberries, and nowhere is that love more clear than on this hook-filled come-on. Lyrically, he's his typically shy and modest self, scolding a potential romantic partner who apparently missed her one and only chance: "You come a-crawlin' but you're much too late / You've got the key, but babe I locked the gate." Wait, don't keys open gates?
"Fractured Mirror"Ace Frehley
After eight tracks of catchy, uptempo songs about speeding, romancing and partying, Ace Frehley's solo Kiss album closes with the surprisingly powerful, textured and melancholy instrumental "Fractured Mirror." More than anything else on this already impressive album, it made fans wonder what other new surprises they could expect from Ace in the coming years. Sadly, other than a handful of undeniable appealing band and solo tracks, that promise has gone largely unfulfilled.
Depending on how charitable you're feeling, you can either interpret the lyrics of this hazy, slow-grooving song as a chronicle of the difficulties of life on the road or, much like the Black Sabbath song of nearly the same name, as a warning about the dangers of cocaine addiction. If the latter is true, it seems like something strong kicks into effect around the 1:40 mark of this track.
"Speedin' Back to My Baby"Ace Frehley
Apart from one minor quibble (No "What's on Your Mind?" Wait til we start commenting on YOUR Facebook pages!), we're totally cool with how our readers voted in this election. We're especially glad we didn't have to write a Top 10 Kiss Solo Album Songs list without this irresistibly sunny and catchy number, which finds our lovestruck Spaceman simply trying to get home to his girl. But let's be honest, given his track record, hopefully someone else was driving, right?
Like Paul Stanley (see No. 10 on our list of the Top Kiss Solo Album Songs), Gene Simmons wasn't bored or unfulfilled by his role in Kiss. But unlike his bandmate's "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" approach, the Demon used his solo album to wander far from his usual roots. He experimented with Beatles-inspired pop, funk and choirs alongside friends such as Joe Perry, Donna Summer, Helen Reddy and Cher. He even covered the Disney classic "When You Wish Upon a Star" backed by a full orchestra. But the song that clicked with our readers is this much more traditional rocker, cut from the same cloth as the classic "Christine Sixteen."
"Tonight You Belong to Me"Paul Stanley
As you might expect from the frontman for a band of facepainted rock 'n' roll comic-book heroes, Paul Stanley has quite a flair for the dramatic. The opening track from his Kiss solo album is a mini-epic that demonstrates the full range of his creative tastes and vocal abilities -- and, of course, his high self-esteem in matters of the bedroom -- very nicely.
The typically easygoing, quick-to-joke Ace Frehley clearly had something he wanted to get off his chest right at the start of his Kiss solo album. He angrily storms out of the gates on this track, ranting and raving about a lying ex-girlfriend who ripped his heart out (and presumably showed it to him while it was still beating). As much as we don't wanna see our beloved Spaceman suffer, we gotta say this foul mood suits him really well musically -- he plays and sings with a passion and conviction that he's yet to equal at any other time in his career.
"New York Groove"Ace Frehley
With twice as many votes as track No. 2 on our list of the Top 10 Kiss Solo Album Songs, your clear choice for No. 1 is Ace Frehley's cover of Hello's "New York Groove," which became the only major chart success from the four solo records. The syncopated disco-rock beat was perfect for the times, and native New Yorker Frehley's somewhat weary, detached vocals give the song extra layers of depth.