An Unmasked Tribute To KISS

Review by Dan Bach

Over the last few years, there has been an explosion of so called tribute albums from both independent and major labels to all kinds of bands. The first KISS tribute album I was aware of was the Australian Waterfront Records - Hard to Believe subtitled A KISS covers compilation. Great inside gatefold cover full of memorabilia. Most notable cover was Nirvana's Do you love me?: a full year and a half before Smells like teen spirit was released. In 1994 KISS released and produced the KISS my Ass - classic KISS re-grooved, in 1996 the Derock/Triage label brought out Spacewalk a salute to Ace Frehley, in 1999 KISSDeutschlande released a German bands compilation, there have been also a few KAOL compilations as well.

Undressed: an Unmasked tribute to KISS. I first heard of this project from Alexx Michael when his band Shameless toured the UK last October. Shameless had covered Flaming Youth on their first album and covered the Gene penned song American Man on their second album Queen 4 a day. 

As the subtitle implies all tracks are songs found on the 1980 Unmasked album. Sixteen tracks in all, first eleven follow the original KISS album, the last five are second versions of Naked City, Tomorrow, Two sides of the coin, Easy as it seems and Talk to me.

The packaging is better than other small label tributes. An introduction to the KISS Unmasked album period by former financial coordinator/tour manager and now lecturer/author of KISS and sell C K Lendt. The middle pages are given over to Julian of the KISSfaq website, with an indepth analysis of the 1979/1980 period for KISS.

This album is Alexx Michael's project, Shameless play three tracks with Pretty Boy Floyd's Steve Summers on vox. Orignally this was to be a Shameless only project but when word got out offers of covers came flooding in, worldwide. 

Here follows a tracklisting and a short description.
  • Jendza: Is that you? - Goth rock from Detroit Rock city.
  • Ryan McKay: Shandi - Stripped down acoustic Version. Ryan Adams Comparisons.
  • Shameless: Talk to me - OTT glam, flash bomb fever and thunderous drums
  • Na$h: Naked city - NYC punk supergroup, Runaway train version
  • Demon drive: What makes the World go round - Screeching vocal hard rock,  not too dissimilar to the orig.
  • Pretty suicide: Tomorrow NY retro glam.punk, only Female vocalist on album
  • The Gemini sect: Two sides of the Coin - Industiral, Marilyn Manson  inspired. Great Phantom of Park quote.
  • Boot camp: She's so European - Interesting intro, diff time Changes. Doors keyboard
    Breaks great twist at end. Radioactive/Charisma bits
  • Dressed to thrill: Easy as it seems - Guitar keyboard effects. Merger of My dead sister & Noise therapy bands
  • The Torpedo girlz: Topedo girl - No man battlestations Torpedo intro, musically Very similar to the original
  • Shameless: You're all that I Want - Blistering in your face glam version
  • Oliver Monroe: Naked city - Piano, reflective brooding Vocal delivery
  • Shameless: Tomorrow - Originally used on KAOL II. Acoustic, vocal harmony
  • Mind over me: Two sides of the Coin - Screaming vocal, industrial samples Rammestein Comparisons.
  • Tykoon: Easy as it seems - European aor, end twist.
  • KISS Forever (band): Talk to me -  Second tribute album Appearance. Hungarian
    Tribute band, acoustic and Vocal outro.

    Great cover to the cd, front cover an Ibanez iceman guitar, pair of Paul's Unmasked era boots and a young lady in stilettos. Back cover is a lineup of the Unmasked costume boots. Inside tray cover is an ad for the KISSnews.de website.

    Closing, none of the songs sound like the originals, some production values lacking. But for an overall concept ie KISS fans who were turned onto KISS or saw them in 1980, it works well with all styles catered for.

    The KISS tribute is a doubled edged sword - the KISS fan is the only market that the album will attract. Hard to believe is now a collector's item for two sets of fans - KISS and Nirvana. Question has to be asked whatever happened to the other bands on that vinyl album?

    Until I played this album the only band I was really familiar with was Shameless and heard of The Torpedo Girlz through their UK tour in recent years. Some of the tracks are interesting enough for me to investigate the bands further.

    I wonder if anyone's thought of doing a Dienasty or a Creatures tribute!


Thanks to Dan for the review

Available From

RSR Music, Germany RSR 199977-3


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