Unmasked (Kiss album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||May 20, 1980|
|Recorded||January – March 1980|
|Studio||The Record Plant Studios, New York City|
|Singles from Unmasked|
Unmasked is the eighth studio album by American hard rock band Kiss, released on May 20, 1980. Despite being credited, Peter Criss had no involvement with the recording of the album; Anton Fig played all the drums uncredited.
The album features substantial songwriting contributions from Vini Poncia, who had previously been Ringo Starr's post-Beatles songwriting partner. The album marked the first time Kiss had used the contributions of outside songwriters to such a large extent, as all tracks except two of the Frehley contributions, "Talk to Me" and "Two Sides of the Coin", were written or co-written by someone outside the band.
The band filmed a promotional video for "Shandi" with Criss. It was the last time he appeared with Kiss until he performed with them at a Kiss Convention on June 17, 1995. In the band's authorized biography, the drummer revealed that he was the last one left in the band's dressing room after filming and broke down crying. The album cover and poster insert, designed by artist Victor Stabin, featured a winking Criss. "Unmasked was like the tail end of a comet," reflected Stanley, "and I don't mean Frehley's."
A lip-synched German television performance of "Talk to Me" and "She's So European" featured the debut of Eric Carr, who became the band's permanent drummer until his death in 1991. The band would play a concert at the Palladium Theatre in New York City to officially introduce Carr as Criss' permanent replacement in the band. Kiss then toured Europe and Australia (where their popularity was at an all-time high) and played "Is That You?", "Talk to Me", "Shandi" and for a short time, "You're All That I Want". Otherwise, the album's songs have been largely ignored in live performances, with the exception of "Shandi", which is sometimes played in the band's shows, particularly in Australia (where the song became a top ten hit in 1980). "Talk to Me" was also played in 2001 during the Australian and Japanese concerts of the Farewell Tour, but has not been performed again since the departure of Frehley.
Heavy metal singer Jørn Lande covered "Naked City" on the album Unlocking the Past (2007). In 1999, German label Aor Heaven released a compilation with various artists covering the entire album, it was named "Undressed An Unmasked Tribute To Kiss".
Unmasked went on sale on May 20, 1980 through Casablanca Records and reached number 35 on the Billboard 200, the worst position for the group since Hotter Than Hell (1974). The album got a gold certification from the RIAA two months after its launch, but failed to reach platinum status, ending the band's four-album platinum streak. Meanwhile, in Europe and Oceania, Kiss maintained its popularity; Unmasked topped the charts in Norway and New Zealand, and reached the top 5 in Australia, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.
"Shandi", published on June 1, 1980, was the first single from the album. Although in the United States it only reached No. 47, in Argentina it reached number one, while in Australia, New Zealand and Norway it reached the top 10. "Talk to Me" was the next single outside the United States. It went on sale on August 24 and its highest position was the tenth, reached on the Swiss charts. "Tomorrow" was the third and last single by Unmasked – the second in the United States – and reached No. 70 in Germany.
After its release, Unmasked divided critics and received both positive and negative reviews. According to David Fricke of Rolling Stone, the album "lacks the madness and amplified delusions of Love Gun and Alive!" And "Shandi" suggests The Doobie Brothers with kabuki makeup". Fricke also noted that rock songs such as "She's So European", "Easy As It Seems" and "You're All That I Want" are "disappointingly boring" and that "the sterile production" of Vini Poncia left "in the background the guitars and the harrowing voices of yesteryear." Jason Josephes of Pitchfork Media wrote that until he did not hear it he could not discern "how bad he was" and that he preferred to remain in that ignorance for the rest of his life. Examiner Rustyn Rose concluded that Unmasked, "Is Kiss's adaptation to the new wave movement "and despite being" full of catchy pop-oriented melodies, they are far from the classic Kiss sound." Stepehen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that none of the songs are memorable and that the group sounds uninspired throughout the album. Erlewine also added that "the music made it clear that it was time for Kiss to make a change."
For his part, Matthew Wilkening of Ultimate Classic Rock had positive comments on the album, according to him "Unmasked is an underrated gem of power pop in the middle of a race in free fall." Wilkening remarked that "Frehley manages to eclipse everyone by adding enough distorted guitars to bring together a sound comparable to the Rolling Stones in such outstanding subjects as 'Two Sides of the Coin,' 'Talk to Me,' and the wonderfully insane 'Torpedo Girl.'"
One year after their last tour, which was somewhat a disaster, Criss was fired from the band due to his erratic behavior. Kiss played only one show in the US, at the Palladium with Carr. The band decided to take a break from the U.S. because the album was more successful in other countries, and Kiss played in Australia, England, New Zealand, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, and Italy.
|1.||"Is That You?"||Gerard McMahon||Paul Stanley||3:59|
|2.||"Shandi"||Stanley, Vini Poncia||Stanley||3:36|
|3.||"Talk to Me"||Ace Frehley||Frehley||4:00|
|4.||"Naked City"||Gene Simmons, Poncia, Bob Kulick, Peppy Castro||Simmons||3:49|
|5.||"What Makes the World Go 'Round"||Stanley, Poncia||Stanley||4:14|
|7.||"Two Sides of the Coin"||Frehley||Frehley||3:16|
|8.||"She's So European"||Simmons, Poncia||Simmons||3:30|
|9.||"Easy as It Seems"||Stanley, Poncia||Stanley||3:24|
|10.||"Torpedo Girl"||Frehley, Poncia||Frehley||3:44|
|11.||"You're All That I Want"||Simmons, Poncia||Simmons||3:04|
- Paul Stanley – vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar on "Shandi", guitar solo on "Is That You?" and "You're All That I Want", first guitar solo on "What Makes the World Go 'Round", all guitars & bass on "Tomorrow" and "Easy as It Seems"
- Gene Simmons − vocals, bass; rhythm guitar on "You're All That I Want"
- Ace Frehley – vocals, lead guitar, second guitar solo on "What Makes the World Go 'Round", acoustic guitar on "Shandi", all guitars & bass on "Talk to Me", "Two Sides of the Coin" and "Torpedo Girl"
- Peter Criss − credited as band member but does not play
- Anton Fig – drums
- Vini Poncia – keyboards, percussion, backing vocals, producer
- Tom Harper – bass on "Shandi"
- Holly Knight – keyboards
- Bob Kulick − additional guitar
|Australian Albums Chart||3|
|Austrian Albums Chart||3|
|Canadian Albums Chart||12|
|Dutch Albums Chart||13|
|German Albums Chart||4|
|Japanese Albums Chart||15|
|New Zealand Albums Chart||1|
|Norwegian Albums Chart||1|
|Spanish Albums Chart||11|
|Swedish Albums Chart||17|
|Swiss Albums Chart||8|
|UK Albums Chart||48|
|US Billboard Pop Albums||35|
|1980||United States||"Shandi"||Billboard Pop Singles||47|
|Australia||Pop Singles||10|
|"Talk to Me"||Pop Singles||39|
|Canada||"Shandi"||RPM 100 Singles||69|
|Germany||Pop Singles||28|
|"Talk to Me"||Pop Singles||32|
|"Tomorrow"||Pop Singles||70|
|Holland||"Shandi"||Pop Singles||24|
|"Talk to Me"||Pop Singles||39|
|New Zealand||Pop Singles||6|
|Switzerland||"Talk to Me"||Pop Singles||10|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
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