Does the world really need another tribute to KISS? Absolutely not. Does that mean that the newest one, "Spin The Bottle: A Tribute To Kiss", is bad? Not at all. But as it plods through the familiar paces, with eleven KISS classics sung by a mix of two or three authentic legends and a larger number of mostly has-beens and never-really-were's, an air of pointlessness settles over the whole thing.
It takes a lot, however, to fuck up great songs, and there's no doubt that the braintrust behind this album — guitarist brothers Bob and Bruce Kulick, who have been, respectively, shadow and official members of KISS at different stages — chose a sterling lineup. In fact, one could quibble that they played it too safe — where's "Two Timer" or "Strange Ways"? But that aside, the songs are readily familiar and all played with relative gusto by the Kulicks and a revolving cast of musos that includes vets like axeman Steve Lukather, former DOKKEN bassist Jeff Pilson, and VANILLA FUDGE drumgod Carmine Appice.
When it comes to the vocals, however, the marriage of singer and song is not always made in KISS Army heaven. TWISTED SISTER's Dee Snider has the snotty big city vibe to carry "Detroit Rock City", but STYX whiner Tommy Shaw shouldn't even be allowed near a studio, let alone a real rock and roll song. His reading of "Love Gun" is as boring and histrionic as anything he ever did with the unlistenable Stygians. Mark Slaughter and FOZZY's Chris Jericho do decent Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley imitations, respectively, on "Cold Gin" and "King Of The Night Time World", Slaughter's irritating ad-libs notwithstanding. For sheer genius, however, check out "God Of Thunder", featuring the inimitable Buzz Osborne of the MELVINS, who sounds as evil and apocalyptic as ever.
Elsewhere, HELMET's cold and cynical Page Hamilton generates no heat at all on "Calling Dr. Love", while KING'S X's Doug Pinnick and even the great Lemmy try hard but fall flat on their entries ("Parasite" and "Shout It Out Loud"). By the time you get to MSG's Robin McAuley (no "he's still alive?" jokes, please), you might be wondering why you don't just slap on the originals.
Ironically, perhaps the best thing KISS has recorded in over a decade was their recent cover of "Do You Remember Rock'N'Roll Radio?" from last year's RAMONES tribute. That was an explosive, exhilarating anthem that could have been written by Simmons and Stanley themselves, and it generated more musical joy in three minutes than this whole intermittently enjoyable, but ultimately average, venture.