The KISS Album Focus, Volume 1: Kings of the Night Time World (1972 – 1982)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 2: Hell or High Water (1983 – 1996)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 3: Roar of Greasepaint (1997 – 2006)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 4: Never Enough (2006 – 2013)
by Julian Gill
For many years, the website KISSFAQ.com (not affiliated with or endorsed by the band KISS) was the source of a lot of great info on the band. What I found most entertaining and informative was the website’s “KISS Album Focus” series where the band’s recording history was broken down into detail. These considerably lengthy articles were all posted and available for free. Eventually, he Album Focus articles were pulled from the site and were slowly released in book format starting in 2002 (with updated editions being published at various points). As of this writing, the series covers the band beginnings all the way up to 2013.
In addition to KISS albums, these books also focus on what every band member was up to pre- & post-KISS. Various editions of albums and singles are discussed as well.
I’ve read a lot of KISS books over the years and these are some of the best. While this isn’t technically a biography of the band, it does cover every album the band has released (including compilations and live albums) and talks about events during and leading up those releases.
I started with Volume 2 because it covers my favorite era of the band. I think KISS’ run during the ’80s and early ’90s is much more interesting than the classic period. We’ve heard all the stories from the band’s 1970s heyday a million times. so my eyes and ears always perk up when I get to read about what went on post-originals/pre-reunion.
Next I purchased volumes three and four. Volume 3 was interesting because it focuses on the reunion and while I already knew that Psycho Circus wasn’t a true reunion album, I didn’t realize how much of a mess relations were in the band from the get-go. Volume 4 covers the shortest amount of time out of all the books and according has the least amount of pages. I was a bit disappointed with this one because I felt surely there’d be much more to say with the band kick-starting their creatives juices with the releases of Sonic Boom and Monster.
Finally, I picked up Volume 1. I almost bought the $5 Kindle version because the paperback was listed as being out of print and prices on copies of it skyrocketed up around $40. Just a few days earlier the paperback was in stock and had been listed at around $17 or so. I mulled over whether I wanted an e-book to complete the set but after doing that for a few weeks, Amazon got more paperback copies in, so everything turned out okay.
My biggest complaint about this series is that Julian Gill really could’ve used an editor (or a spell-check/grammar check program). Words are omitted, words are misspelled, entire paragraphs are repeated but worded differently… This happens throughout the entire series but seems to happen the most in Volume 1.
I wouldn’t recommend these books to a casual KISS fan that may only pick up a Gene Simmons book for a quick read, but all hardcore KISS fans should read and love this series. These are books I’ll be referring to and re-reading certain chapters for many more years to come!
KISS – Rock and Roll Over [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Originally Release: 1976, Casablanca Records
1. “I Want You”
2. “Take Me”
3. “Calling Dr. Love”
4. “Ladies Room”
5. “Baby Driver”
6. “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”
7. “Mr. Speed”
8. “See You In Your Dreams”
9. “Hard Luck Woman”
10. “Makin’ Love”
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Peter Criss – Drums, Vocals
Producer: Eddie Kramer
After the experimental and successful Destroyer, KISS changed directions yet again with the release of Rock and Roll Over, which came just 8 months after Destroyer. While I always assumed KISS didn’t want to rest on their laurels or make Destroyer II, according to Paul Stanley, without Bob Ezrin producing the band was scared to blaze further down the trail that Destroyer had set. So they reverted back to the no-frills hard rock heard on Rock and Roll Over because that was what they knew best.
While Paul has stated this album was a “letdown” and that he didn’t think Eddie Kramer captured the proper sound of the band, I have to disagree as far as it being a letdown. Proper production on the other hand, whether a product of times or what, plagued KISS during the 1970s. I agree that this album doesn’t sound all that powerful but other than the Ezrin-produced Destroyer, nothing KISS did in the ’70s sounded all that energetic from a production standpoint.
The songs are top notch though with only “Take Me” and “See You In Your Dreams” coming across as a bit of filler. “I Want You”, “Ladies Room”, “Baby Driver”, “Mr. Speed” and “Makin’ Love” are some of the band’s best rockers. “Makin’ Love” especially so. Then you’ve got one of Gene’s signature songs — “Calling Dr. Love” while “Hard Luck Woman” is a trademark for Peter right up there with “Beth”. In fact, Peter gets lead vocals on “Baby Driver” as well and I wish he was given more vocal duties during his time spent in KISS.
For this KISS fan, Rock and Roll Over is one of the band’s best and most consistent efforts.
Highlights: ” I Want You”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Ladies Room”, “Baby Driver”, “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”, “Mr. Speed”, “Hard Luck Woman”, “Makin’ Love”
KISS – Destroyer [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Originally Released: 1976, Casablanca Records Buy the album at Amazon.com
1. “Detroit Rock City”
2. “King of the Night Time World”
3. “God of Thunder”
4. “Great Expectations”
5. “Flaming Youth”
6. “Sweet Pain”
7. “Shout It Out Loud”
9. “Do You Love Me?”
10. “Rock and Roll Party” [hidden track]
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Peter Criss – Drums, Vocals
Dick Wagner – Guitar (“Sweet Pain” & “Beth”)
Producer: Bob Ezrin
You have to give KISS credit after having just come off the success of the Alive! album — instead of coming up with a new studio release that sounded similar to their three first studio albums, they wanted something a little different and tapped Alice Cooper/Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin to help them come up with it. Ezrin hold a co-writing credit on every song but “Sweet Pain” and “God of Thunder”.
There’s some weird stuff here. “Great Expectations” is complete with an orchestra. It’s odd, but I like it. “Flaming Youth” could’ve easily been an Alice Cooper track, I think. “Sweet Pain” is standard fare that could’ve easily been on Rock and Roll Over (which would be the band’s second album release for 1976!). “Rock and Roll Party” is a hidden track that uses echos and what sounds like backmasking and comes off as kinda creepy and I’m sure it probably only served as fuel to those that thought KISS were Knights In Satan’s Service.
Then, of course you’ve got “Detroit Rock City”, “Shout It Out Loud” and “God of Thunder”. All of which are stone-cold classics that still make it to the set list. “Beth” is another vintage KISS track and I’ve always had a soft spot for “Do You Love Me?” (which the band had a great performance of during their MTV Unplugged set).
Gene & Paul might say this is the best album KISS ever made but that probably has more to do with it making the most money. For me, it’s not their best, there’s a few quirky numbers here. They aren’t bad but they get totally outshined by “Beth, “Shout It Out Loud”, “God of Thunder” and “Detroit Rock City”.
Highlights: “Detroit Rock City”, “King of the Night Time World”, “God of Thunder”, “Great Expectations”, “Shout It Loud”, “Beth”, “Do You Love Me?”
KISS – Dressed to Kill [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Original Release: 1975, Casablanca Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com
1. “Room Service”
2. “Two Timer”
3. “Ladies in Waiting”
5. “Rock Bottom”
6. “C’mon and Love Me”
7. “Anything for My Baby”
9. “Love Her All I Can”
10. “Rock and Roll All Nite”
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Peter Criss – Drums, percussion, Lead/Backing Vocals
Producer: Neil Bogart
Dressed to Kill is the band’s third album and it was released only 13 months after the band’s debut! They don’t crank ’em out like that anymore. In the case of KISS and Casablanca Records, they were determined to be a success and that was the cause of the rapid fire release of new studio albums. As a live act, KISS’ popularity was unquestioned but still weren’t finding chart success like they or the label had hoped (that wouldn’t come until the release of Alive! later in 1975).
This album is the very embodiment 1970s KISS and it’s gotta be the most consistent album from that decade for the band. There’s really no dud track here. This classic album captures a band that was still hungry and scrappy. Though they were gaining a large following, this was before they tasted true commercial success on music charts and before all of the merchandise.
Obviously, the most well-known song is “Rock and Roll All Nite” (which didn’t become a hit until a live version was released from the Alive! album) but I’m extremely tired of that song and actually believe it’s overrated. It was the most dumb and commercial song in their catalog at that point, so that’s why it caught on.
“Rock Bottom” is one of my favorite songs in the band’s catalog and Ace’s nearly classical sounding acoustic intro (which was tacked on to the rest of the song that Paul wrote) is fantastic and proves that Ace should’ve had a bigger musical influence during his time in the band. “C’mon and Love Me” is another one of my all time KISS favorites.
As I said before, Dressed to Kill truly is what KISS was all about in those early years and it’s the most KISS-like of all their studio albums from the 1970s, if that makes any sense.
Highlights: “Room Service”, “Two Timer”, “Getaway”, “Rock Bottom”, “C’mon and Love Me”, “Anything for My Baby”, “She”, “Love Her All I can”
If you follow the world of rock/metal online, you’d be hard pressed not to know that KISS is finally getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. You’d also have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the controversy surrounding which members are (and are not) getting inducted. It’s become quite a mess. Gene & Paul are having it out in the press with Ace & Peter, Gene & Paul are having it out with the HOF’s induction process, the fans are having it out with Gene & Paul, etc. It goes on and on.
Here’s what we know: the Hall of Fame is inducting only Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The original four members of KISS and that’s it. They aren’t inducting anyone else and they don’t want anyone else (such as Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer) performing at the induction ceremony. Frankly, that’s silly, but look — KISS has been eligible for induction for a long time and for the Hall of Fame execs to put this restriction on the band is just their way to make the induction as painful as possible for KISS. It’s like they couldn’t put off leaving KISS out of the Hall any longer because the public was becoming too vocal about their exclusion but at the same time the Hall of Fame didn’t want to make it a fun/easy process for the band.
No one is arguing the founders shouldn’t be in but I think all members should be inducted and that they should be allowed to perform with Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer (which the Hall does not want). My dream scenario is that everyone who has ever been in KISS gets inducted and then the classic line-up plays and then the modern line-up plays and/or they have all six of those guys (plus Bruce Kulick) jam together.
It’s not a big deal to induct every single member of KISS, so I don’t see why the Hall is resisting it:
- No question, Eric Carr definitely deserves to be in. Great drummer and he contributed to the band for 11 years on many successful albums.
- Bruce Kulick — same situation. He was there for 8 years and played on a number of KISS albums that went gold/platinum.
- Vinnie Vincent. Not sure if anyone could even find this guy and he didn’t have the best relationship with Gene & Paul but even they would admit his guitar work and songwriting skills played a big hand in freshening up the band’s sound and giving them some of the best albums they’ve ever produced.
- Eric Singer first joined KISS in 1991 after Eric Carr’s death, had a short stint in the early 2000s filling in for Peter Criss and has been their drummer since 2004 when Peter Criss once again left and has sung lead vocals on a handful of KISS tracks.
- Tommy Thayer is a big force in the modern band. Great guitar player and he’s been playing with them since 2002 and has songwriting credits/vocal duties on the last two KISS albums. I could see someone maybe arguing against Tommy though given the time frame he joined, but I think he’s contributed enough to warrant the induction.
- Given his very short tenure, Mark St. John is probably the only KISS member you could question for HOF status and say that he didn’t contribute much to the band… provided you consider playing on a platinum-selling album as not contributing much.
It’s nice that the band is getting inducted into something called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when you consider the people who run the Hall and the list of people who have already been inducted, it’s anything but a legit rock hall. No one in their right mind would argue that if there is such a hall that KISS deserves to be there, but it’s sad that the RNR Hall of Fame is refusing to acknowledge the entire career of the band and wants to focus only on the 1970s.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for some KISS fans but I actually applaud Gene & Paul for refusing to give in and play strictly with Ace & Peter. They want all eras of KISS to be recognized and they think Eric & Tommy deserve to stand on stage. I agree. I know there is the whole Gene & Paul vs. Ace & Peter thing, and that’s sad, but I don’t have a problem with Gene & Paul’s “all or nothing” stance.
Now, I recently noticed there’s a surprising amount of KISS albums I haven’t yet reviewed. I could’ve sworn I reviewed them all! Well, with all the buzz regarding KISS these days thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the fact that this year is the band’s 40th anniversary, there’s no better time than now to finish reviewing the band’s catalog! Be on the look out for those reviews in the coming weeks.
Tags: 2014, Ace Frehley, Bruce Kulick, Classic Rock, Eric Carr, Eric Singer, Gene Simmons, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, KISS, Metal, Music, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Rock, Rock and Roll, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tommy Thayer, Vinnie Vincent
KISS – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988, Mercury Records)
1. “Let’s Put the X in Sex” … 3:48
2. “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” … 3:26
3. “Love Gun” … 3:31
4. “Detroit Rock City” … 3:45
5. “I Love It Loud” … 3:47
6. “Deuce” … 3:20
7. “Lick It Up” … 3:53
8. “Heaven’s on Fire”… 3:19
9. “Calling Dr. Love” … 3:38
10. “Strutter” … 3:38
11. “Beth” (Eric Carr vocal) … 2:46
12. “Tears Are Falling” … 3:54
13. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” … 4:29
14. “Rock and Roll All Nite” … 2:56
15. “Shout It Out Loud” … 3:07
Smashes, Thrashes & Hits is a KISS compilation aimed at the MTV generation that had helped breathe new life into the band during the ’80s (this album itself would go onto double platinum status). There are five tracks that come from either Creatures of the Night, Lick It Up, Animalize or Asylum while eight tracks feature some of the band’s classic ’70s material. Most of the songs from the 1970s were remixed for this collection.
Basically, the remixes amount to nothing and I could care less whether I’m listening to original or “remixed” versions, they sound the same to my unrefined ears. In the case of “Beth”, the vocals were re-recorded with Eric Carr (who does quite a good job on the song). Two additional tracks were recorded for this album and along with having the Eric Carr version of “Beth”, they are the only reason I was interested in owning this album.
“Let’s Put the X in Sex” and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” are definitely songs of the time and follow the same pattern of the Crazy Nights album that came out in 1987 (which, surprisingly, is not represented here at all). Very cheesy and sexually-driven and they’ve always sounded to me as if they could’ve been recorded by Aerosmith around the same time. That’s probably because frequent Aerosmith collaborator Desmond Child co-wrote these songs with Paul Stanley! Future Aerosmith collaborator Diane Warren (“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”) helped to co-write “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” as well.
Despite Paul Stanley swearing off both of these songs, I love them for the guilty pleasures that they are. I loved both of these songs from the first time I heard them and the lyrics are just plain cheesy hornball fun to me.
For an album that devotes half its space to the 1970s KISS catalog and half to their 1980s output, I think this is a solid compilation that does its job of representing both decades well. It’s not the compilation I would recommend for people wanting to discover the band but for the diehards that happen to love ’80s KISS? This is definitely worth picking up (can easily be found at a low price) for the two new tracks and Eric Carr’s take on “Beth”.
2011 has a quite a challenge in front of it. 2010 was filled with TONS of great albums. If 2011 can pull off even half of what last year did, it’ll still be a great year. This isn’t some complete list, there may be more projects in the works that I’ve forgotten about or don’t know about yet… but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to them! This is just a list of stuff off the top of my head…
Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder EP (January 25th)
One of my favorite albums of 2009 was Wildstreet’s debut. I would love a full album but if an EP is all I can get, I’ll gladly take it. Will be available for download at iTunes & Amazon on January 25th with physical copies to be available for purchase shortly after. I’ll have a review up for it sometime next week.
Stryper – The Covering (February)
Originally scheduled for the end of 2010, it was pushed back supposedly in order to increase awareness for the album. Even though it’s an album of covers, they’ve picked some good songs and the samples sound great.
Whitesnake – Forevermore (March)
Sure to be another highlight of the year for me. Good to Be Bad is one of my favorite Whitesnake albums and Coverdale has basically said Forevermore will be more of the same because he thinks they found the right balance of all eras of Whitesnake with that record. I couldn’t agree more.
Sixx A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt (April)
I’m a huge Nikki Sixx fan. I’ve loved all the new Crue material since Red, White & Crue and the first Sixx A.M. album was pretty good. James Michael is also a fantastic vocalist and is a great songwriter/producer. This one should be a winner.
Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (AKA – Welcome to My Nightmare II)
2010 looked to be a lock for new Alice. He was already in the middle of writing the album but then hooked up with Bob Ezrin again and they decided to do a Welcome to My Nightmare sequel. The album Alice had originally planned was called The Night Shift and here are his own words on that project, taken from the Toronto Sun newspaper back in April:
“Ten songs are written already. It’s going to be called The Night Shift. The concept is, it’s a really dark radio show where I’m the disc jockey, and every song I play will be by a different fictitious band. At some point, you’ll realize this disc jockey is a little bit more than that. And I’m sure there will be some kind of a twist ending.”
I’m not sure if The Night Shift and Welcome 2 My Nightmare (the rumored title) are two totally separate projects or if Alice & Bob have decided to absorb the ideas from Night Shift into Welcome 2.
My first Saxon album was Into the Labyrinth and I liked it a lot. Supposedly a new one should be coming this year…
New Megadeth is always a highlight for me, I was disappointed by Endgame but I think the band is gonna go out on a high note with their last album on Roadrunner. I think the band goes into the studio to record in February, so I’m guessing Spring 2011 is the release.
Easily the most anticipated release of the year for me. Sonic Boom was great and I was very happy to hear both Gene & Paul state in various interviews that a new album would be arriving on 2011. They wouldn’t do it if they couldn’t make money off of it (which had been a concern for years) so I guess Sonic Boom was very profitable for them. I know another tour is gonna start up in the summer so I’m guessing the release will be happening around then.
So happy to hear that Riot is back to work on a new album. I just got into them a little over a year ago but quickly snatched up most of their albums. I haven’t heard a bad Riot album yet and this particular album reunites the Thundersteel line-up.
They put out a great little EP in 2010, a full album should be even better.
A few songs from the forthcoming album can now be bought on iTunes and Amazon and they sound really good. I’ve had a good feeling about this album for a long time. It’s exactly what I was expecting — fun rock ‘n’ roll that stays true to Steven’s GNR roots and classic rock-influences.
Anvil – Juggernaut of Justice (Spring)
Anvil is always good for some solid heavy metal. It’s a shame it’s taken them this long to release it though.
So there’s a new singer and Frankie Banali has been given the blessing of the DuBrow family to continue on with QR. If it’s good enough for Kevin’s mom then it’s good enough for me! Mark Huff sounds pretty close to DuBrow and I know they’ve been re-recording some QR classics but I’m hoping there’s going to be some new material too.
Still Waiting For… (albums originally scheduled for 2010)
Anthrax – Worship Music
Originally planned for 2009! The band has gone through three different singers since then and went back to tweaking the album with Belladonna on vocals.
At the end of 2009, Peter said he’d have an rock album coming out in Spring 2010 but I haven’t heard anything since. Maybe he’ll do what Ace did and release his solo album about the same time KISS releases their new album.
Criss – Cat #1 (1994, Tony Nicole Tony Records)
1. “Bad Attitude” … 4:35
2. “Walk the Line” … 3:49
3. “Truth” … 4:54
4. “Bad People Burn in Hell” … 3:47
5. “Show Me” … 4:04
6. “Good Times” … 4:36
7. “Strike” … 4:45
8. “Blue Moon Over Brooklyn” … 5:23
9. “Down with the Sun” … 4:37
10. “We Want You” … 3:48
11. “Beth” … 2:48
Peter Criss – Lead Vocals, Drums, Percussion
Mike Stone – Guitar, Lead Vocals
Mike McLaughlin – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mark Montague – Bass, Backing Vocals
Ace Frehley – Guitar (“Bad Attitude”, “Walk the Line”, “Blue Moon Over Brooklyn”)
Wayne Johnson – Acoustic Guitar
Doug Shawe, Dito Godwin – Piano
Kirk Miller – Guitar
Stephen Presley – Keyboards
Producer: Dito Godwin & Peter Criss
Peter’s non-KISS material has always been the least enjoyable of the original four members of KISS. His self-titled KISS album is pretty lame and I’ve read that 2007’s One For All was even worse. Of the five solo albums he’s released to date, I think Cat #1 is easily the best. Yeah, I know “Criss” is the name of the band and it’s commendable that he tried to get a real band going but let’s call a spade a spade and just say this is a Peter Criss album (even though guitarist Mike Stone handles vocals on “Show Me” and “We Want You”). This album may have gotten a bit more notice had it been titled as such.
You won’t find any of Peter’s jazz, R&B, big band or crooning influences here. This is a hard rock ‘n’ roll album that sounds like it came out of the late ’70s or early ’80s. In short, it’s the type of album he should’ve made back then during that very time frame!
There’s some great rockers like “Bad Attitude”, “Show Me” and “The Truth” and then some cool ballads as well (“Good Times”, “Blue Moon Over Brooklyn”). Peter’s always had a great soulful voice and it’s in fine form throughout the album. For KISS fans, I think this is worth seeking out, especially if you’re a fan of the original line-up and not only because of Peter Criss but because Ace plays guitar on a few of these songs.
Highlights: “Bad Attitude”, “The Truth”, “Bad People Burn in Hell”, “Good Times”, “Blue Moon Over Brooklyn”
KISS – Asylum of Death Interviews (2006, MVD)
Another DVD I streamed on my PS3 courtesy of Netflix. You know, I’m really starting to enjoy the titles of these unauthorized videos. They make no sense but sound darn fun: first “Krazy Killer” and now “Asylum of Death”! If only those had been actually KISS albums.
This is a collection of interviews and TV news pieces but unlike the oddball collection on Krazy Killer, there’s a bit more continuity here as many of these clips are from the Dynasty era. This is fine by me because I always thought KISS looked pretty cool during their disco rock phase (or as Ace calls it during an interview “rock disco”). I found it funny during one interview Ace is asked why they decided to go disco. He explains that it’s really only “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” that is “rock disco” and somehow ties this into a statement that disco is dying then three sentences later he says “disco is hot right now”. Of course, Paul steps in as the consummate promoter and says they must have done something right because the song is “number one or number two all around the world”.
The very first clip features the infamous appearance by Gene on The Mike Douglas Show then we get into an “unmasked” interview featuring KISS except they all have their backs turned to the camera. Next up is a round of Dynasty period interviews and then the video jumps to ’91/’92 with what I guess is the British MTV doing an interview with some guy who runs the “KISS Museum” and is a collector and seller of their memorabilia.
The final piece is an interview in England, by the same MTV veejay who interviewed the museum guy, talking to Gene, Paul, Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick. Appears to have taken place shortly after the release of Revenge. It’s an interesting piece notable for when the discussion turns to Eric Carr and after a few somber answers from Gene & Paul, you could visibly see talking about this was getting to them and they told the interviewer it was time to change the subject because they’d rather not dwell on not having Eric and would much rather celebrate the times they did have with him. I’ve read a few negative things over the years knocking Gene & Paul for the way they handled matters while Eric was sick, if there’s ever any proof that these guys truly cared for Eric and it was a tough situation for them as well, this interview is it.
It is during this interview where Paul and Gene state Revenge is heavy and almost like a return to the first album. Paul goes onto say this is KISS being true to themselves and not following trends. Pretty funny when you consider 30 minutes earlier on this video he was defending their “rock disco” album! He also bashes the power ballad craze of the day and likened “Everytime I Look At You” to a Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones ballad that has nothing in common with the pop metal (“pap” as he called it) ballads. Again, this is humorous because KISS did their best to fit into the ’80s pop metal (the very scene their “true” selves inspired)!
This is a solid collection that I’m sure hardcore KISS fans will appreciate. There’s even an interview conducted by Billy Crystal! The sound and picture quality varies, but it’s acceptable for clips that date back to the late ’70s. At one hour and available for less than ten bucks, this really isn’t a bad purchase for those that are huge KISS fans and it is definitely worth a rental at least.
KISS – Live In Las Vegas (2002, Pixelon.com)
1. “Shout It Out Loud”
2. “Love Gun”
3. “God of Thunder”
4. “Rock and Roll All Night” (as it is labeled on the DVD)
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass, Backing Vocals
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Peter Criss – Drums, Backing Vocals
Awful, awful, awful! Subtitled “The unseen concert”, I wish this one had remained unseen… by me! I was young and naive and wasted $14.99 on this DVD back on February 23, 2003 (the receipt was inside the DVD case). Live In Las Vegas is a cheap and unauthorized KISS DVD featuring the band’s four song “limited appearance” at Pixelon.com’s iBash ’99 from October 29, 1999 at the MGM Grand.
Pixelon was a fairly notorious dot-com company that got into the internet business by making ridiculous boasts about their video streaming technology and by throwing lots of money around to nab some big music names for their iBash launch party. Also notable is the company’s founder, who as it turned out, started the company under a false identity because he was wanted in Virginia for stock scams. The company only lasted a year before going bankrupt so I’m guessing this 2002 release was just a way to try to pay off some debts.
Paul Stanley issued a statement at one point saying “this DVD or Video has NOT been approved, endorsed or authorized by us”. I’m really surprised Gene & Paul would slip up to the point where someone else could market, own and release some concert footage of them. I thought they were pretty good about owning their performances, but I guess when someone is throwing an insane amount of cash at you to perform four songs, you tend to not worry about the details. Don’t feel bad for KISS only though, others were wowed by Pixelon as well. The iBash launch party also featured other big names like The Dixie Chicks, Tony Bennett, The Offspring, Faith Hill and The Who.
So why is this one bad? The performance is lip-synced, perhaps ripped straight from the albums themselves and then there’s the annoying issue of the video & audio not being sequenced correctly. Mouths are moving when they shouldn’t. The video is actually pretty good but the packaging of this DVD is very cheap. There is a director’s cut and a multicam cut to choose from. The director’s cut is horrible, there’s way too much jumping around from band member to crowd to band member. Your eyes never have time to settle and take in what you’re seeing. The multicam cut divides the screen in to quarters and those individual cameras are much more consistent, choosing to linger at different angles on the band as they play.
Surprisingly, there is a decent amount of special features. Perhaps Pixelon was feeling a bit bad about sticking us with a four song “concert”. I’m not sure how Pixelon got their hands on all of this extra KISS footage, but some of it is interesting.
Keeping with the failures of Pixelon, iBash was supposed to be broadcast over the internet, but the servers crashed at the last minute! Oops! Luckily, members of the KISS Army can now “finally see the concert that fate denied them the first time around”, as it says on the back of the DVD box.
But don’t bother, fate was looking out for you.