Here's a good review on ya.
Talk about hitting the nail right on the head, huh? :mrgreen:
Tainting the Memory: Gene Simmons
This one's for Terry Gross. I'm no acolyte of NPR or a Terry Gross dittohead, but her semi-notorious recent "Fresh Air" National Public Radio interview with sagging Kiss frontman Gene Simmons - the one in which Simmons bragged he personally had more money than NPR, told Gross to, "welcome me with open legs," and then called her "boring" when she, predictably, took offense - changed something in me: it drew upon that vague irritation I've always felt with Simmons and, for the first time, transformed it into a vicious, sharp-edged hatred.
Look, I know Gene Simmons is a cad, and I expected him to be one, even on that bastion of polite mumbling known as NPR. Simmons' caddishness is fine with me: plenty of great rockers - from John Bonham to Johnny Rotten - have been critic-baiting, snot-ejecting, pants-shitting cads and I don't love them any less. What gets me about Simmons is that he has never, ever, for one minute, been even close to a great rocker. The goal with him, in fact, has never been to make great rock and roll - if jazz-polka fusion had been the big-seller in 1974, then, by God, Simmons would have started a mediocre, showy, substanceless jazz-polka band. Even at his very best, Simmons's work is just mediocre mid-1970s hard rock - passable as a nostalgic reminder of when you were 14 years old - and little else. Simmons seems to think of himself, though, as a permanent member of the rock pantheon, right up there next to Bon Scott and Mick Jagger.
Even worse, younger generations who are unfamiliar with Kiss' actual work have somehow inherited the vague notion that Simmons belongs in such a pantheon. Listen to the songs: he doesn't. I think he knows it, too, and maybe that's why, desperately, he had to trounce his betters in the only field he could - screwing the largest number of skanky groupies. Actually, I'll bet you Mick Jagger has even beat Simmons in that category, he's just too cool to boast about it.
I'll tell you Gene Simmons' only respectable quality - he's intelligent. Like P.T. Barnum, Simmons is smart enough to know that, in theory, enough PR, hoopla, marketing, and good old-fashioned horseshit will cover an egregious lack of genuinely worthwhile content long enough for its purveyor to get across state lines before anybody realizes they've been had. Also like Barnum, Simmons has enough cynical contempt for humanity to put such a theory into practice. It's not as if men like Simmons are rare - look at the evil genius Lou Pearlman, creator of the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and O-Town among many - but it's rare that they're rock stars instead of double-dealing backroom impresarios. Simmons doesn't belong in the spotlight, he belongs behind it, counting his cash in a strained suit and tie like the blank-eyed businessman that the cruel hands of time have all too justly twisted his face to resemble.
In the last decade Kiss has undergone roughly 4 gajillion "last tours" (you'll sell more tickets, you see, if people think it's going to be their absolute last chance to see you) and perfunctorily shuffled off to a justly-earned dormancy, and yet Simmons still refuses to get out of our collective face. His pitiful Terry-Gross-dissing spectacle was just one of a slew of increasingly more desperate PR stunts - including a particularly pathetic bid for "Osbournes"-style fame in a 2-part TV edition of "Extra" - indicating a career in the last stages of a grand-mal death seizure. Let's hope anybody in power of resurrecting that career - VH-1, MTV, Clive Davis - has the human decency to put the defibrillators away and let this patient go. Simmons has spent far too long Tainting the Memory.
-Will Robinson Sheff