(7 out of 10)
The prospect of yet another compilation of old KISS tunes is a sad one indeed. The endless permutations and rearrangements of the Double Platinum track order over the years – single disc, double-disc, half-a-disc … must … include … “Rock and Roll All Nite” – have yet to result in some sort of grand rethinking of the band’s legacy; rather, they’ve just provided that year’s 6-year-olds with another cheap entry point into cartoon rock ‘n’ roll.
But in both conceit and execution, Ikons is the first retrospective look at KISS since Double Platinum that’s worth a considered look. First, there’s the reasonable price of admission; a 4-CD set for under $40. Given the band’s predilection for squeezing blood from their fans’ wallets, that’s a pleasant surprise. Second, and far more important, is the content. Each disc focuses on each band member’s material; disc one is Gene’s, disc two is Paul’s, disc three is Ace’s and disc four is Peter’s. Of course, as everyone knows, the Ace disc is far and away the best, and hearing his material concisely compiled puts the lie to Gene Simmons’ insistence over the years that Frehley’s input was inconsequential. Hell, Ace was the only one who emerged with a good song from The Elder (“Dark Light,” which, miraculously, is included here). On the other hand, the tendency of Simmons and Paul Stanley to engage in schmaltzy mediocrity is made abundantly clear when listening to their discs. (Yeah, Peter Criss’ is still the worst of all the discs, but even his worst song is nowhere near as terrible as Simmons’ “Radioactive.”)
Still, for the listener to be able to immerse themselves in each individual “character” allows for a surprisingly engaging KISS experience. It doesn’t make their bubble-gum metal any more consequential, but it does amplify the theatricality of the whole affair, which, after all, was sort of the point, right?
Standout Tracks: “Dark Light,” “Rocket Ride”