When I was 13 years old in 1986 I finally got KISS Unmasked. I bought the vinyl with my own money and it was glorious doing so. I also bought my parents coffee at Sunrise Mall, something that made me very happy. But all of that paled in comparison to getting home and putting this record on the turntable. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re gonna say it’s “KISS goes Pop” or some other type of bullshit, and I get it. Between this one and Dynasty there was definitely a stylistic shift in the group’s music, but you have to understand how many people were in their ears saying, “You should do this, or try that,” and outside songwriters definitely had an influence. Doesn’t fucking matter because I love this album, and my brother Jim Chinnici (R.I.P.) did, too.
By the way, we’re gonna reference Jim quite a bit in this one since he just recently passed away, and quite frankly I am not okay with it. And it would be absolutely disgraceful if I didn’t do one last piece in his honor. He and I talked at length about how awesome and overlooked this album is due to the climate of the time. But nothing can change the fact that KISS was always gonna do what they wanted to do, and fuck you if you weren’t onboard. They’d move on with you or without you. Right away opening track “Is That You?” cuts you to the quick and lets you know that while the sound may have lightened, the take no shit attitude is in full force. Listen to Paul Stanley’s delivery and you know what I mean.
“Shandi” is so beautiful I can’t fucking stand it. And it’s a shame it wasn’t a hit here in the U.S. That’s okay, the Australian market loved it, and they still do. Ace Frehley’s “Talk to Me” is no doubt one of this record’s highlights. With several years of lead vocals under his belt he just swings for the fences, and guess what? It’s a home run! Jim and I would talk about this song with such reverence because it’s so goddamn amazing! “Naked City” is arguably one of Gene Simmons’ better contributions to the band’s catalog, and the bass line is pretty fat. “What Makes the World Go ‘Round” is undeniably sappy/cheesy/fill it in here, but still, listen to Paul sing and I guarantee you’re emotionally invested!
Jimmy, oh my Jimmy…you and I both know how amazing “Tomorrow” is. I know you loved it, you know I love it, and that’s a fact. This is one of my favorite KISS songs ever, and I wish we could have covered it together. Imagine you and me onstage, you killing it on bass, and me trying my hardest (and failing) to sing like my idol Paul Stanley. Would have been pretty cool. “Two Sides of the Coin” once again showcases a very confident Ace Frehley singing his ass off. “She’s So European” is so goddamn catchy I still can’t believe it was never a single, but what do I know? Meanwhile “Easy As It Seems” sounds like something Paul wrote for Dynasty, not that I am complaining, because I love the song.
“Torpedo Girl” is one that I know Jim loved simply because the bass is so prominent. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a killer tune. Frehley delivers a great vocal and you can hear the enthusiasm in his singing. Closer “You’re All That I want” is well and truly one of my favorite KISS songs ever done. I love the realness of it, and that hook is awesome. I told Jim before that if we ever got into a band again that we had to do this number at least once. He was ready and willing. Sadly, that never happened. Jim Chinnici was more than my friend. He was my brother. He was someone that everybody loved. Jim, I miss you more than words can say. You may be gone physically, but you will live in our hearts forever. I love you…now…forever…always.
In Loving Memory of Jim Chinnici (October 22, 1973 – November 10, 2020)