Review Summary: Today I heard a bad record.
Gene Simmons .
Gene Simmons solo album.
Gene Simmons solo album.
You could pretty much read that up there, and you would have a perfect summation of my feelings towards Asshole
, Gene Simmons’ 2004 record. However, that review, as Spinal Tapesque as it might have been, would not appropriately convey my hatred of this record. So here goes:
Gene Simmons has never been the best of singers, let alone the best of bass players. A good businessman, sure; ambitious, no doubt; a musician, not so much. To make matters worse, his projects always tended to be….shall we say a tad over-reaching? Mix up all these characteristics, and the results are predictably disastrous. That is why Gene Simmons
was arguably the worst of the 1979 solo records (certainly the most misguided), and that is why Asshole
is best described as a trainwreck of epic proportions.
Now, I didn’t exactly have heightened expectations going into this one. Reviews I’d read said it was misguided, overlong, and tried to reach too many targets. All in a day’s work for Gene Simmons, I knew, but nothing could have prepared me for what came through my speakers the first time I played this album. To call it “bad” would be a compliment. To trot out the old “bland, boring, but harmless” would be an outright lie. Bland and boring this may be, but it is not
harmless. It is noxious, like the fumes you try not to inhale at the scene of a fire or at your local metal festival. After you hear it, you’ll be scarred for life.
Nah, I exaggerate. Most of it is
bland and boring, which is actually kind of a disappointment. Boring-bad is the worse kind of bad, because hilariously bad stuff you can at least get a chuckle out of; boring-bad stuff, on the other hand, barely registers on your auditory channels, apart from a certain feeling that something bad is going on in the background. That’s what Asshole
is: so much background noise. Overblown moments abound, but very few are hilarious – in that department, the Nobel prize has to go to the horrifying chorus of Whatever Turns You On
, which comes in promising Seagalesque rapping, but then descends into just another boring pop song, which not so much flirts with radio as whores itself out to it, as befits Mr. Simmons. From there, the boredom sets in again.
It would be unfair, however, to say that this album does everything
wrong. Here and there there is an inkling of a good idea, which makes it even more frustrating when they inevitably fail to be realised. Beautiful
, for example, comes in promising a deliciously cheesy 80’s synth line, but then immediately negates it with more boring indie-pop; and the title track itself could have been a really good song, if not for the literally kindergarten-level insults that pass for lyrics (”you got a personality/like a bucket full of pee”, “you have such a stupid name”
, and a personal favorite, ”you’re the king of all stupidness”
. Throw in ”you’re smelly”
or ”you’re ugly”
and that’s your full kaka-poopoo range right there). To see these potentially decent songs wasted like that is a crying shame.
But far worse than bad songwriting is bad unfocused
songwriting. And unfortunately for the listener, Mr. Simmons was never the most coherent artist. Gene’s idea of “diversity” is closer to everyone else’s idea of “smorgasbord”, as most every genre (apart from, you know, actual metal
) is approached here, and every single one of them is done badly. There’s even a ludicrously misplaced cover of Firestarter
(yes, the old Prodigy hit), which Gene unearths and manages not to ruin, basically because he keeps it unchanged, and it was a good song in the first place. However, this version does
highlight the song’s immensely stupid lyrics, which were sort of drowned out in the original.
And that brings us to another problem: lyrics
. In a word, I write better lyrics than Gene Simmons. Seriously, I do. In fact, right after I shut off this piece of crap, I wrote a lyric based around the phrase ”I dream a thousand dreams”
(used here as a title), and it was better than anything on here. Gene’s lyrics veer from juvenile revenge fantasies (If I Had a Gun
) through cringingly insincere stories about crossdressers (the atrocious Beautiful
), to the aforementioned potty humor. Really befitting subjects for a fiftysomething, eh?
Moving on, however, I have to say that not all
is dreadful. As mentioned, Asshole
would be a pretty good song if not for the lyrics, and Black Tongue is
a good song, in spite of
its lyrics. It’s the kind of blues boogie that this and any album needs more of, and the musicians’ claim that it is ”a real rock’n’roll song”
is, for once, validated. A pity that it is lost on such a horrible piece of musical offal.
So, as you may have gathered, I hate this album. The music is bad, the playing is bad, and the lyrics are awful. This review’s sole point is therefore distributed thusly: half a point for Black Tongue
, the other half for Asshole
, minus the lyrics, and the bluesy riff on Sweet And Dirty Love
. All the rest of this monstrosity can burn in Hell, as far as I’m concerned. Now excuse me while I press Delete