Newest Review: ... song but has a bit of hard rock grit to it. Lyrics are about a young girl of 17, who is far too promiscuous for her age, with a reput... more
Kiss is Unmasked
Unmasked - Kiss
Member Name: Jarisleif
Unmasked - Kiss
Advantages: Several moments of brilliance
Disadvantages: More disco than their other albums
"Unmasked" is the 8th studio album by American hard rockers, Kiss. It was released in 1980 on Casablanca Records and produced by Vini Poncia. The line-up for the album was Paul Stanley (vocals/guitar), Ace Frehley (guitar), Gene Simmons (bass/vocals) and Anton Fig (drums).
This is the last studio album to feature all four members of the original line up, until the reunion. Although the album liner says all four performed on the album, Peter Criss wasn't involved, in any way, with the album recording. In fact, he was only featured on the album cover. Although he was uncredited, Anton Fig played drums in the studio.
Vini Poncia co-wrote eight of the eleven tracks on the album. Among other things during his career, he had been Ringo Starr's post Beatles writing partner. This was the first album to have such extensive writing contributions from someone other than band members. One other song, "Is That You?" written by Gerard McMahon, takes the total to nine out of eleven songs on the album written or co-written by outside contributors.
"Unmasked" is the first album, not counting the four solo albums, since "Rock and Roll Over", in 1976, to not feature all four members on vocals. It features a bit more of a pop influence than their other albums, but still manages to stay with a pop metal sound overall. The songs have a strong, simple, melodic rock sound to them. While not as heavy as others, when you don't compare it to them, or over analyze the songs, it is a good album, although not their best.
"Is That You" was written by Gerard McMahon. It's a very poppy, bouncy song but has a bit of hard rock grit to it. Lyrics are about a young girl of 17, who is far too promiscuous for her age, with a reputation that has already ruined her because she has lost touch with herself. She is now only out for what she can get from men and treats them horribly when she doesn't get what she wants. She's already seen too much and done too much, and it is wearing her down.
"Shandi" is another very boppy song, about a relationship wasn't meant to be, but neither of them can let go and end it. They both know it was never a long term thing, but they know they love each other and want to be together making it hard to part. It's a passionate but tragic story of knowing what needs to be done but mentally and emotionally unable to do it. Great bass line, with an intro that promises a good song.
"Talk to Me" is more of a rocker than some of the others. Ace Frehley played bass on this one instead of Gene Simmons. In a departure from the standard rock song (especially Kiss) lyrics of being out to get the girl for a night, this is one of the times where the guy wants to get to know the girl for who she is, hopefully long term. Even though it appears she has been around the block a time or two, and it would be easy for him to have a one night stand with her, he wants more, but she doesn't seem to believe him.
"Naked City" is a somewhat introspective song about living in New York, and how cold it (or any big city) can be with everyone rushing about, too busy to take notice of others, and how lonely it can all feel. Everyone has a story to tell but no one has the time or inclination to listen to any of them. He's not looking for someone to feel sorry for him because of how he feels, but he is just calling it as he sees it. There is a bit of a reggae touch to the sound and it has a great chorus.
"What Makes the World Go 'Round" gives you a feeling he is finally coming to understand it is love that he really needs in his life, instead of running from woman to woman. She's the one, and he feels lucky to have found her. This one feels more filler than anything, with not much to say about it. This one is far too disco in sound to really be considered Kiss classic.
"Tomorrow" was written by Paul Stanley and Vini Poncia. Bass was performed by Paul Stanley instead of Gene Simmons on this one. It was released as third single from the album, but never was performed live. If you think of it as a pop song instead of a Kiss song, it is really good, but when you think of it as a Kiss song, it seems weak.
"Two Sides of the Coin" is an interesting insight into the women who are looking for a one night stand, saying it isn't just men looking for one. It says when you are a rock star or in another profession where groupies throw themselves at you, you have many women to choose from. The drum solo really makes the song.
"She's so European" is a track with lyrics that have a feel of a woman who pretends to be someone she's not, or maybe started pretending after a week away where she got a glimpse of more sophisticated, worldly women and is trying to be like them. The synthesisers don't do anything for the song. In fact, they take something away from the riffs.
"Easy as it Seems" tells of a man who knows he is wasting his time loving a woman who is running around with other men. She pretends to have remorse from time to time but he knows she really doesn't mean it, yet he makes it easy for her because he keeps staying with her. The keyboards work for this song, with a groovy and background percussion that make the song. The bass line is great in this one.
"Torpedo Girl" is filled with thinly veiled, somewhat comical innuendo. A bit of a 'typical' rock song about sex, but it sounds like they had fun recording it. This one sounds a lot like Ace's solo album. The bass line is funky and the song has a bit of a groove to it.
"You're All That I Want" is one of the few really mushy songs Kiss have done, with sweet lyrics telling her just how much she means to him, and how he wants her to be around for the rest of his life. Great harmonies on the chorus are what really make the song.
In summary, while this is not my favourite Kiss album by a long way, it is still worth having in your collection. I just didn't feel the same joy on my first listen as I did with other albums, and still feel the same way. It is okay for a pop or even slightly disco effort, but when you think of it as hard rock, it falls short of what you'd expect from Kiss. Still, "Unmasked" is worth having in your Kiss collection, and worth listening to from time to time. It has moments of classic Kiss that really stand out.
1. Is That You?
3. Talk to Me
4. Naked City
5. What Makes the World Go 'Round
7. Two Sides of the Coin
8. She's so European
9. Easy as it Seems
10. Torpedo Girl
11. You're All That I Want
My rating: 7/10
Summary: Not all that heavy, but still a good listen.