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KISS - Ikons

Mercury/UME - October 21, 2008

by Melanie "Sass" Falina

KISS IkonsThere are two primary reasons for loving KISS. The first reason, undoubtedly, is their music -- that's a no-brainer, and the fact that they put on the greatest rock and roll show around.

But the second reason to love KISS is their comic book like hero-personas that the band had created for each of its members.

Beginning in the 70's and continuing throughout three decades, every Halloween has kids and adults alike dressing up as members of KISS -- be it the Demon, the Star Child, the Cat, or the Spaceman. Though the likes of Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson exude visual elements that made rock and roll spooky and macabre, KISS has created a brand of musical fantasy which accentuates that rock and roll party type of concert, attitude, and lifestyle.

And the four-CD release of Ikons celebrates those rock-superheroes -- original members Gene Simmons as the Demon, Paul Stanley as the Star Child, Ace Frehley as the Spaceman, and Peter Criss as the Cat. Although there are several different "greatest hits" collections that have been released by KISS, none of the others celebrate the onstage facades in the way that Ikons does.

There's one disc for each band member, and each disc includes 14 songs featuring that particular persona.

Starting out with the Demon --emanating from the Gene Simmons disc is a feeling of lasciviousness wrapping each of these 14 songs together. The nefarious "God Of Thunder," "Almost Human," " Calling Dr. Love," "Ladies Room," "Christine Sixteen," the tough and sassy "Deuce," and the musical emblem for a good time "Rock And Roll All Nite." In addition, "Cold Gin," "Parasite," "Larger Than Life, "Love 'Em And Leave 'Em," "Plaster Caster," "Radioactive," and "Charisma."

And then there's the Star Child -- Paul Stanley's charismatic blend of sex, sauciness, and finesse. Featured on the Star Child disc are some of KISS' best loved songs: "Detroit Rock City," "Love Gun," "Take Me," the bold "Stutter," "Come On And Love Me," "Hotter Than Hell," "100,000 Years," "Rock Bottom," "Do You Love Me," and "American Man," followed by "Mr. Speed," the achingly catchy "I Stole Your Love," "Wouldn't You Like To Know Me," and the KISS' mega-hit "I Was Made For Loving You.

Ace Frehley --- his stage name alone had a certain celestial feel to it -- add in the Spaceman's out-of-this-world posture and electrifying playing style and what Ikons gives you on this disc is a wild ride: "New York Groove," "Shock Me," "2000 Man," the ever appropriate "Rocket Ride," "Snow Blind," "Speedin' Back To My Baby," "Talk To Me," and "What's On Your Mind." Then the ballsy "Rip It Out," "Save Your Love," "Hard Times," "Two Sides Of The Coin," "Dark Light," and the tune that could very well be Frehley's personal theme song, "Into The Void."

Wrapping up this collection of rock and roll KISStory is Peter Criss' influence -- the story of the Cat Man. And thanks to Ikons this cat has almost doubled the amount of lives than the normal feline creature gets. The are: "Hard Luck Woman," "Baby Driver," the heartfelt classic "Beth," "I Can't Stop The Rain," the tough-skinned "Black Diamond," Mainline," and "Don't You Let me Down." But that's not all, "Dirty Livin,'" "Getaway," " Strange Ways," "That's The Kind Sugar Papa Likes," "Easy Thing," and "I Finally Found My way."

The insert also features dazzling photographs throughout a 24-page booklet, and has liner notes written by longtime KISS fans Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs.

The Ikons concept was created by a fan, and it goes without saying that this is a collection that's for the fans -- one in which they'll delight in.