IKONS

by: Kiss

After the avalanche of unimportant Kiss compilations released in the year 2008, the four-CD Ikons is an October surprise. The liner notes argue that Kiss are second only to the Beatles when it comes to four pieces with "immediately recognizable" members, so the worthwhile concept here is one disc each, no matter how lopsided that seems. The problem comes from how Kiss mirror the Beatles' formula of two dynamic frontmen, an eccentric third, plus a pleasant enough fourth, so it shouldn't be a surprise this set takes a dive in the final rounds. Gene gets to shine first with "The Demon" disc, a collection of Simmons' obsessions including sex that's barely legal ("Ladies Room," "Christine Sixteen"), the phantasmagorical ("God of Thunder," "Larger Than Life"), and, of course, Gene himself ("Charisma"). What's missing here is Gene's love of the sentimental ("A World Without Heroes" or his version of "When You Wish Upon a Star" for instance) or any representation of his over-reaching, conceptual side (this disc should be filled with tracks from The Elder but there are none). The choice of "All American Man" over the much more suitable "Shandi" is the big goof on Paul's disc but "The Star Child" (and that really should be "The Lover") is otherwise treated well with "Detroit Rock City" and "I Was Made for Lovin' You" as bookends, while the great "100,000 Years" sits in the middle. There's a subset of Kiss fans who will go ape for the almost perfect (where's "Ozone"?) "Space Ace" disc which reaches into the reunion years for the great choice of "Into the Void" from the Psycho Circus album. Another surprise, The Elder's "Dark Light" is chosen and while it's average filler, the amazing songwriting credits list Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, Lou Reed, plus Late Night with David Letterman drummer Anton Fig. After "Beth," "Black Diamond," and "Hard Luck Woman," the tracks on Peter's disc will be unfamiliar to most, but it is a good representation of how Criss could deliver an exciting imitation of a Faces-era Rod Stewart with nothing but a croaky voice and mediocre material. So who needs this set? Not anyone upset by Kiss' constant repackaging. True fans have all of this material and could arrange it any way they want, but Ikons saves them the trouble of generating their own member specific playlists, which in all likelihood, would only be slightly better. ~ David Jeffries

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