Great Metal Albums of 1980: KISS- Unamsked

220px-Kiss_Unmasked_Album_Cover

This is definitely one album I can blame the military on for letting slip past me. It was released around the time I was floating around the Indian Ocean on a ship. My first indication that KISS had released an album at that time was the news that Peter Criss was leaving the band, which he did shortly after. However, the album never made any waves in the sense that everyone was talking about it and as a result, it passed me by and became one of those many albums I had to discover in retrospect.

Listening to it again, I’m not sure how I would of reacted to it back then. Right now, I am saying to myself, “This isn’t the hard rocking KISS I knew from the 70s.” Then again, my adolescent experience with religion was still tugging at the coat tails of my consciousness back then when I believed all that Satan worshipper crap aimed at them. So, I might have liked it, but I can’t say for sure.

“Unmasked” starts off ok with “Is That You” giving me the impression that KISS were remaining true to their roots. However, when I heard the next two songs, “Shandi” and “Talk to Me,” I thought, “What the hell!” These songs make them sound like sound fresh faced top 40 band or a lounge act. “Naked City” is a slight improvement and fortunately the album makes a more traditional KISS return after that for the remainder of the album. It gets more harder with some decent rockers like “Tomorrow,” “Two Sides of the Coin” and “She’s So European” before going out with an all right closer. Unfortunately, those songs don’t fully remove the unpleasant taste in my mouth put their by tracks two, three and four even with some good guitars solos from Ace.

Track Listing:

1. Is That You

2. Shandi

3. Talk To Me

4. Naked City

5. What Makes the World Go Round

6. Tomorrow

7. Two Sides of the Coin

8. She’s So European

9. Easy As It Seems

10. Torpedo Girl

11. You’re All That I Want

KISS

KISS

Paul Stanley- vocals, rhythm guitar

Gene Simmons- bass, vocals

Ace Frehley- lead guitar, vocals

Peter Criss- drums, vocals

Uncredited Musicians

Anton Figg- drums

Vini Poncia- backing vocals

Tom Harper- bass on Shandi

Holly Knight- keyboards

The jury is still out as to whether or not I should regret missing this album back in the day. I’m not saying it’s a bad one, there are some good moments on it that remind me of their more golden years. However, even now there are some tracks that don’t sit well with me.

Next post: The Scorpions- Animal Magnetism

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20 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1980: KISS- Unamsked”

  1. I caught a bit of flack from readers for my Unmasked review — 2/5 stars, I believe. While I enjoy listening to it for nostalgia, I can’t honestly say that I would blast “Tomorrow” in the car with the windows down.

    It’s a really tough call, as you said. It’s not a bad one, there are some good moments, but lots of tracks that don’t sit well with me.

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  2. I was paying attention back when this came out and desperately wanted it to be a return to the hard-rocking ways I already felt my beloved KISS had abandoned with the Dynasty album. As it turned out, I was highly disappointed for all the reasons you cite and this album ended up distancing me from KISS for nearly two decades. I am only now finally becoming able to set aside my resentment and give this a new listen, having coincidentally just picked it up from my local used CD shop literally two days ago. I still can’t say I like it, but I have successfully let go the baggage of what I viewed as KISS’s broken promise back in the day.

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  3. I actually quite enjoy this album but I definitely wouldn’t blame anyone for not liking it, put it that way! The thing with KISS is, even their worst albums always have enough great songs to make them worthwhile. I’d maybe give it 3.5/5

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    • If I had this album on CD, I would just skip tracks two and three, possibly four and listen to the rest. That for me would make the album much more enjoyable. You got a point, KISS can even have some good songs on a bad album.

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  4. Uh, oh. I might be in the minority here. I LOVE ‘Unmasked’!! Loved it ever since day one. This was the only KISS album I bought on 8-track (back in the day)… LOL!! I now have it on vinyl, with the original fold-out poster too… and got it ‘new’ on CD at Super Walmart a few years ago. LOL!

    * Mike is correct about Anton Fig. 🙂 Anton is the ‘mystery’ member of the KISS family tree… why, I’ll never know. He’s a legend in his own right!!

    ‘Shandi’ was a HUGE hit in Australia and is one song that KISS will always play ‘live’ over there for the fans. Um… I LOVE that song too. Oops. I know. Can’t help it. My favorite song from ‘Unmasked’ has forever been: ‘What Makes The World Go Round’… Space Ace absolutely KILLS IT on that song! 🙂

    Okay… y’all can go laugh now. I hear y’all too. I don’t mind. Y’all are forever cool with me anyways. \m/\m/

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    • I agree that Ace does nail it in “What Makes the World Go Round” and I don’t think you’re in the minority here, a lot of people like it. I just wasn’t impressed with “Shandi” or “Talk to Me.” Stone, you bring up an interesting mystery here. Why didn’t Anton Figg join KISS?

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  5. I tried a lot of times, but Unmasked is the one Kiss album I can’t find anything to like about.

    I want to like it, just to be awkward and support the underdog (I usually seem to like albums that get panned, and so sometimes I give them extra chances to win me over) but, this one for me just can’t make me like it.

    I wish “Save Your Love” was on it, so at least it would have one track that I really love.

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