Release Date: 18 September 1978
Track List: I’m Gonna Love You; You Matter To Me; Tossin’ and Turnin’; Don’t You Let Me Down; That’s The Kind of Sugar Papa Likes; Easy Thing; Rock Me, Baby; Kiss the Girl Goodbye; Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll; I Can’t Stop the Rain
Best song: “I’m Gonna Love You”, though “best” is a charitable adjective on this album
Worst song: Everything else, really, but I guess “Don’t You Let Me Down” or “Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll”
The four Solo Albums all released the same day in 1978. General notes about all of them can be seen in the review of Ace Frehley.
Conventional buzz about them nowadays (2017) says that Paul’s is “the Kiss album”, Gene’s is “the weird album”, Ace’s is “the heavy album” (or even simply “the good album”), and Peter’s is “the R&B album” (or simply “the bad album”). How bad is it really?
“I’m Gonna Love You” starts right into the R&B vibe. A horn section? Cripes. It’s not terrible in itself, but holy crap this is nothing like Kiss. It’s even a little catchy with the whole “rain or come shine” refrain. Okay, fair enough.
“You Matter to Me” … wow. Huh. That organ sounds straight outta Motown. This song was one of two singles released from the album (the other being “Don’t You Let Me Down”) and … huh. It’s far too repetitive. The refrain in “I’m Gonna Love You” was slightly catchy at least. This is just repetitive. Vini Poncia wrote this; we’ll encounter him again soon, writing a bunch of the songs on Unmasked.
“Tossin’ and Turnin'” is a cover of the Bobby Lewis hit. You know, the one that starts “I couldn’t sleep at all last night / just for thinkin’ ’bout you”. It’s serviceable, actually. This is a good cut. It’s not remotely Kiss. It’s not a bad listen, except it does go on a bit long; three minutes would have been fine, but it goes on for four. Alas.
“Don’t You Let Me Down” … what the hell am I listening to here? This sounds like a reject from a Jackson Five album or something. This is “adult contemporary” with a little, emphasis on little, bit of soulfulness. This was the other single? The only one of the Solo Albums to have two singles instead of one and they picked this and “You Matter to Me”? And once again (heh), boy howdy that ending was repetitive.
I don’t inherently hate songs for having silly and long titles. I enjoy “The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weisseria” from Blue Öyster Cult’s Imaginos, for example. But I can’t say “That’s the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes” with anything even close to a straight face. You know the sad part? Fifth song in and it’s the closest to a Kiss song I’ve heard yet. It’s got actual guitar bits, even a guitar solo for god’s sake. It has something I can actually call a riff. On the other hand: It’s not especially catchy, and the female vocalists make this still feel like something out of the early 60s. And how many times now do I have to say that Peter seems to write songs the way most college students write term papers: The last fifty seconds of a 3:03 song consist of the girl-group singing precisely one line (“you’re the kind of sugar papa likes”) over and over and goddamn over, with Peter occasionally throwing in a comment like “Yeah that’s you” or something. It starts out oddly promising for this album, but then it just flatlines like the rest.
“Easy Thing” starts with a nice acoustic guitar figure, but then instead of something engaging like “In the morning I raised my head / and I’m thinking of days gone by” (“I Want You”), Peter says “Love … love is so hard” and I think “No, no, Peter, listening to this is so hard.” But okay, let’s accept it as a gentle, pretty ballad. Forget that the cover has the Kiss logo on it, and it’s not bad. It’s not great either. This feels like “Beth Part 2”. Oddly enough, I think I would like to hear Neil Diamond or the late Leonard Cohen do this song. But here I am again saying “Huh, did the digital media somehow start skipping, or was that 50 seconds really damned repetitive?”
“Rock Me, Baby” starts with piano and horns. This isn’t bad once it gets going, actually. “Rock me ’til I’m ready to drop!” Okay, sure. And hey, something that can almost be called a guitar solo! It’s repetitive, but less than most of its predecessors.
And the last few? “Kiss the Girl Goodbye” … pretty acoustic guitar, pretty lyrics; I wish Peter were staying more in his range here, but he’s straining a bit on the highs. “Hooked on Rock ‘n’ Roll” is utterly forgettable. It’s more generic piano and horn section crap. “I Can’t Stop the Rain” starts with a piano figure that you might hear in a Barry Manilow song, but never gets more interesting as Manilow would probably make it. There’s a guitar solo, but it’s nothing engaging. And repeat, repeat, repeat …
Nothing on here is much good. “I’m Gonna Love You” is tolerable, and the pre-repetition part of “Tossin’ and Turnin'” is sorta good enough to make up for the latter bit of the song I guess.
It’s not a good album. It’s really not. Not just because it’s not Kiss, but because these songs are so very unpolished and incomplete. I gotta hand it to Peter; it seems he really went his own direction on this and made the music he wanted to make, Kiss Army expectations be damned. But the songs are just too repetitive. It’s like he had genuinely good ideas for songs but didn’t really work them out enough to have satisfactory endings or additional verses.