GENE SIMMONS' 'Asshole': An In-Depth Review

April 5, 2004

Joop van Pelt of has written the following track-by-track "review" of "Asshole", the much-anticipated new solo album from KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons:

01. Asshole (Frank Tostrup)

"Title track 'Asshole' is a catchy, up-tempo bubblegum rocker reminiscent of Avril Lavigne's recent hit 'Skater Boy'. Hearing it once, makes it stick to your mind instantly. Especially the great, singalong chorus 'How does it feel to be a real asshole?' It definately has got a lot of radio potential, but if DJ's will give Gene Simmons ('that KISS guy with the long tongue') a lot of airplay remains to be seen.

02. Weapons (Gene Simmons)

"Gene recorded this track with Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer, who also appeared on the original demo. Originally, the song — when still titled 'Psycho Circus (Weapons Of Mass Destruction)' was written by Gene for consideration as the title track for the 1998 album 'Psycho Circus', but eventually Paul's song with the same name was chosen as the title track in '98. Part of 'Weapons'' lyrics go: 'You're guilty 'til you’re proven innocent. What you see is what you get. I bring you the weapons of mass destruction.' "

03. Carnival Of Souls (Gene Simmons/Scott Van Zen)

"This track sounds like it has been copied from KISS' 1997 album 'Carnival Of Souls' — it reminds of 'Hate' in particular. Like 'Hate', Gene started writing the song 'Carnival Of Souls' in 1993 but needed the help of Scott Van Zen (who worked with Gene on several KISS songs throughout the '90s) to finish it. 'Carnival Of Souls' was demo'd during the recording sessions for the 'Carnival Of Souls' album that finally saw the light of day in '97, but it did not end up on the album. A little later, it was also demo'd during the recording sessions for the album that would become 'Psycho Circus' in '98. But again it did not make the album. For his new solo album, Gene recycled the song and invited Ritchie Kotzen to play guitar, while Gene's son Nicholas sings backing vocals in the chorus along with his friend Chris Parrish plus his father. Gene — who admits he stole the instrumental part from the song '7 & 7' by a band called LOVE — plays bass whereas the drum tracks were done by a drum computer.

04. If I Had A Gun (Bag/Gene Simmons)

"A track basically written by Bag — a multitalented musician who happens to be the first new signing on Simmons Records — with Gene adding a new bridge. The song has a provocative and controversial lyric: 'If I had a gun, I'd have me some fun, I'd shoot everyone who pisses me off today. So don’t piss me off today.' Bag played all instruments, which he recorded in his living room."

05. Sweet & Dirty (Gene Simmons)

"One of the highlights on Gene's new solo album is a song called 'Sweet & Dirty'. Originally written in 1977 (it was titled 'Jelly Roll' back then),Gene has re-written it over the years (at one time it was titled 'Rotten To The Core') and in '98 KISS even recorded a version of 'Sweet & Dirty' for 'Psycho Circus' but it never made the final selection for the album. For his solo album, Gene recorded the tune again, this time with Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer. The trio recorded the tune within a day. The track kicks off with a QUEEN-inspired riff by Bruce, reminiscent of 'Tie Your Mother Down'.

06. Waiting For The Morning Light (Gene Simmons/Bob Dylan)

"A wonderful ballad that — apart from Gene's vocals — only features keyboards, keyboard bass and drum samples, as recorded in Bag's living room. Written by Gene with Bob Dylan in '92, it was originally titled 'Laughing When I Want To Cry'. One day, Gene called Bob Dylan as he wanted to write a song with the legendary musician. Dylan came over to Gene's house and came up with a chordal pattern pretty quick. Gene came up with the rest and a few weeks later he finished the entire arrangement, which sounded like a TRAVELING WILBURYS tune. Gene demo'd the music with Tommy Thayer and two other musicians. When he ran into Dylan again on tour, he asked him to write the lyrics but Dylan said Gene should write the lyrics himself. So, Gene came up with the lyrics and claimed: 'The lyrics are okay, but they sure ain't Dylan.' When Bag heard Gene's demo, he came up with a different arrangement and thus 'Waiting For The Morning Light' was born."

07. Beautiful (Nina Singh/Mark Addison)

"Written by Nina Singh and Mark Addison from the band KITTY GORDON, this song tells a classic story. In the first verse Gene sings, while a toy piano accompanies him: 'Hey put on those fake eyelashes, wax away the old mustache.' The chorus goes like: 'You're somebody beautiful, look at yourself, you're somebody beautiful, like nobody else.' Gene played around with the vocals a little bit to give it a BEATLES sound."

08. Whatever Turns You On (Turns Me On) (Dave Williams/Gene Simmons)

"Just like the title track, this song was part of a demo that was sent to Simmons Records. Gene contacted the singer of the band, Dave Williams, who wrote the song, and obtained the rights to include it on his solo album. Gene altered the lyrics a little bit, and had his longtime girlfriend Shannon Tweed and her mother plus some of their friends sing backing vocals, while Dave Williams and his band play all instruments."

09. Firestarter (Liam Howlett)

"The idea for Gene to cover THE PRODIGY's 1996 hit 'Firestarter' came from Gene's partner at Sanctuary Music Group, Merck Mercuriadas. This track was recorded with the hippest technology and produced by THE OVERSEER ('a very cool guy from England' as Gene puts it),while the rest of the album is produced by Gene himself. Dave Navarro (JANE'S ADDICTION) plays guitar on 'Firestarter'. The biggest difference between the original and Gene's cover can be found in the singing and the guitars."

10. Dog (Bag/Gene Simmons)

"Another track recorded in Bag's livingroom, with Bag playing all instruments and singing harmonies and the 'Werewolves In London' part. The howling part that kicks off the song was inspired by 'Little Red Riding Hood' from SAM THE SHAM AND THE PHARAOHS. In the middle of the song there is a spoken part: 'What a big tongue you got — the better to eat you with, my dear.' "

11. Black Tongue (Gene Simmons/Frank Zapp)

"This track is built around an unreleased guitar riff by the late Frank Zappa, who Gene always admired. Shortly before his passing, Zappa invited Gene to his house and showed him his archive of unused material. After Zappa's death, Gene called his wife Gail and asked if he could use one of the unused riffs for his solo album. Gene sings lead and plays bass, Zappa's son Dweezil plays guitar, while the entire Zappa family (Gail, Dweezil, Ahmet and Moon) sings backing vocals. The song also includes spoken parts by Frank Zappa plus some of his guitar solos. The track starts with Frank Zappa saying: 'Alright kids, here's a real rock 'n' roll song.' "

12. Now That You're Gone (Gene Simmons/Bob Kulick)

"A recycled version of a song Gene wrote in 1977 with Bob Kulick. The song's emotional bridge came to Gene when he was working on overdubs in the studio. His father had passed away two years earlier, and the lyrics deal with his feelings towards his father's passing: 'You left us when I was much too young, and I was your only son. But you left me anyway, and now my heartache's just begun. And now you're gone, and I'm all alone.' Gene's daughter Sophie and two of her friends sing backing vocals, because Gene wanted to create an atmosphere like PINK FLOYD did on 'The Wall' where children sang the chorus' backing vocals."

13. I Dream A Thousand Dreams (Gene Simmons)

"Gene's original demo was a country song written for SHANIA TWAIN and THE DIXIE CHICKS. For Gene's own album, Bag changed it into a very BEATLES-esque tune although the country and western steel guitar part was kept intact. For a while, Gene didn't know how to end this song, until he was reminded of his 1978 solo album of which the closing track is his all-time favorite Disney classic 'When You Wish Upon A Star', which ends with a falsetto note. Then it connected to him, and he had found the perfect ending for his second solo effort."

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