Forty years ago, the four founding members of KISS surprised fans by announcing a quartet of solo releases, all scheduled for release on the very same day: September 18, 1978. The four albums were all marketed and branded under the KISS imprimatur by Casablanca Records, and each album would be truly “solo” in that no other KISS member other than the artist would play on the record. Casablanca invested $2.5 million in the marketing effort, and announced that five million copies would be shipped, guaranteeing platinum status. Now, those four solo records are being collected in a new vinyl box set by Casablanca and UMe. KISS: The Solo Albums – 40th Anniversary Collection, a limited edition of 2,500 units, features each album pressed on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl, with a unique color to match the cover art of each LP. Gene Simmons is on red vinyl, Paul Stanley on purple, Ace Frehley on blue, and Peter Criss on green. It’s available now exclusively through online retailer The Sound of Vinyl.
Gene Simmons was the most eclectic and star-studded of the four LPs. The KISS bassist switched to acoustic and electric guitars for the LP and explored territory far-removed from the band’s brand of hard glam rock. He welcomed an impressive roster of guests including Joe Perry, Bob Seger, Cher, Donna Summer, Katey Segal, Janis Ian, Rick Nielsen, and Helen Reddy and even covered a Disney classic, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” among the original songs like “Radioactive” (a top 50 Pop entry) and a remake of KISS’ “See You in Your Dreams.” Paul Stanley consisted of all-original material, including the top 50 hit “Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We’re Apart).” KISS associate Bob Kulick contributed guitar. Ace Frehley, co-produced by the artist and Eddie Kramer of KISS/Jimi Hendrix/Woodstock fame, yielded a top 20 hit via “New York Groove,” originally recorded by British glam rockers Hello. Frehley’s guests included Will Lee and Anton Fig, both of whom went on to join Paul Shaffer in The World’s Most Dangerous Band and The CBS Orchestra. Lastly, Peter Criss was helmed by songwriter-producer Vini Poncia, a onetime associate of Phil Spector who went on to produce Melissa Manchester and Ringo Starr and, later, KISS. Most of the album’s tracks had been written by Criss in his pre-KISS days for his early band Lips; Criss also covered Bobby Lewis’ energetic oldie “Tossin’ and Turnin’.”
The four albums are housed in a black-matte slipcase adorned with glossy black images of the four members’ faces surrounding a silver foil image of the KISS logo. The box includes four 12×12″ posters replicating the ones included in the original LPs, plus an exclusive turntable slipmat. The strictly limited KISS: The Solo Albums – 40th Anniversary Collection is available now from Casablanca/UMe at the link below! There are no plans for a release to general retail.
KISS: The Solo Albums – 40th Anniversary Collection (Casablanca/UMe, 2018) (The Sound of Vinyl)
Vinyl box set includes:
- Gene Simmons
- Paul Stanley
- Ace Frehley
- Peter Criss
All albums originally released on Casablanca Records, 1978