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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Box Set Reviews > KISS

KISS

Ikons (Mercury/Universal Music Group) 2008

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Copyright 2008 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: November 8, 2008.

Copyright 2008 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: November 8, 2008.

Description:
Back in 1978, when rock band KISS was on top of the world, they tried out a novel new release strategy, simultaneously creating four solo albums by each of the band members.  Of course solo albums were common enough, but never before had a group released a whole series of them at the same time, all under the band umbrella.  It was an audacious, if ultimately unsuccessful idea.  In general the solo albums were considered to be both artistic and popular flops - though guitarist Ace Frehley scored a minor hit with the single "New York Groove."  Thirty years later, the basic idea of the solo albums has been resurrected for the Ikons box set - cherry-picking through band albums to make up a box set, with one disk for each member of the classic original lineup of the band.  Each disk is made up of songs fronted by a different KISS member - Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.  Some songs are picked from the solo records (two disks only get one representative, but Ace Frehley and Peter Criss' disks have several songs from those releases), but mostly it is made up of band classics and interesting album tracks.
What's Good About It?
At the height of its popularity, KISS was a damned good rock band and this does cover most of the real high points of the band's back catalogue.  Most of KISS' best moments are here and accounted for, including the rollicking "Rock and Roll All Nite," the naughty "Christine Sixteen," the disco-leaning single "I Was Made For Loving You," the slamming "Stutter," "Detroit Rock City" and "Calling Dr. Love" and possibly the best maudlin rock ballad ever, "Beth."  It also cherrypicks from lesser known tunes - they even pull "Dark Light" from the underrated Music From the Elder concept album (granted, it isn't the best song from that album, but it's nice to see that the record is not totally shut out, as is usually the case.)  The Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley disks are near wall-to-wall classics, and the Ace Frehley and Peter Criss disks shed light on some of the more forgotten corners of the band's repertoire. 
What's Bad About It?
KISS left Mercury records years ago, and the record label has been re-releasing the catalogue over and over and over again ever since.  There is nothing particularly rare here, nor is there much that a hardcore KISS fan would not have on one or more previous compilations that have already flooded the market.  Just finding a new way of repackaging the same old stuff does not make it new.  
What's Missing?

Not all that much.  This covers most of the good moments of the band's glory years, and at least touches on some of their later, lesser work.  (Only Simmons and Stanley have been with the band throughout the entire run).  In fact, the band's only big hit which did not make the cut was the early 90s comeback sell-out arena ballad "Forever" - which isn't missed all that much.

PopEntertainment.com final grade: B-
If you're anything of a KISS fan, chances are you have all of the music here already.  It's packaged in an interesting new way, but it's still just another shot at selling you the same old stuff.  That said, if you are just now joining the KISS Army (and really, at this point in history who is?) or looking for a good comprehensive collection of the band's work, this is a good place to start.

Jay S. Jacobs

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