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All-Star Tribute Album? Ha! KISS Calls It Revenge

August 08, 1993|Steve Hochman

Most pop stars would be gracious and humble when announcing that a collection of top artists would be recording his or her songs for a tribute album.

KISS co-founder Gene Simmons isn't most pop stars.

He even bristles at the use of the word tribute when discussing the just-started collection, in which artists ranging from metalheads Guns N' Roses and Megadeth to country star Garth Brooks and psychedelic popster Lenny Kravitz (with Stevie Wonder on harmonica!) are recording their favorite KISS songs.

"Let me set the record straight," the sharp-tongued Simmons told Pop Eye. "People consider these things tribute records. It is not. We consider this revenge. We consider this our vindication. We consider this our trophy. We won and the critics lost. When people as diverse as Garth Brooks and Bel Biv DeVoe to Metallica and Megadeth and Helmet and Extreme all say, 'I picked up a guitar because of KISS,' then we win and the critics lose. (Critics' favorites) Television and Patti Smith are not what it's all about. It has always been KISS."

The name Simmons is toying with for the release: "KISS My Ass."

Simmons readily recounts all the facts and figures to support KISS' claim to supremacy: a total of around 70 million albums sold worldwide, fan clubs all over the globe and even an ad-hoc KISS tribute band in Seattle called (what else?) Gene's Addiction.

But it's still a bit of a shock to many that the likes of Brooks and Kravitz would be such vocal KISS fans.

"KISS was musical genius," says Brooks, who is doing the song "Hard Luck Woman" for the collection. "They captured the power of sound, and this means a lot to me. Their biggest influence for me was their theatrical performances. I loved the guitar solo in 'Detroit Rock City,' and we used to play '100,000 Years,' 'King of the Nighttime World,' 'God of Thunder' and 'Shout It Out Loud.' "

Others set for the tribute--um, vindication--album include Lemonheads (doing the song "Plaster Caster") and Anthrax. Simmons says Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Soul Asylum, Alice in Chains and Toad the Wet Sprocket have all contacted him about recording their favorites.

The album will be part of the band's 20th-anniversary celebration, which will also be marked by a coffee-table book ("This is going to be the book to end all books!" says Simmons) and possibly a documentary about the band and the making of the anthology album.

What this adds up to, Simmons says, is an argument for KISS' merits that even the critics can't deny.

"Today there are still some knuckleheads running around saying the Earth is flat," he says. "But the people have spoken. That's where it starts. That's where it ends."

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