Kiss – Kissology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection Vol. 2 – 1978-1991 [4-DVD set]
VH1 Classic Records (7/14/07)
Kiss’s second Kissology DVD collection takes a look at what most people consider to be the band’s most turbulent years. It acts as an almost-documentary of the band, but instead of interviews (though there are a couple on here), it tells a story though clips of TV appearances, news items, concerts and music videos. Through the three-disc set is told a story of a band on the edge. The trials that plagued Kiss from the late ’70s through the early ’90sâ€”multiple shifts in the line-up, career missteps and an image makeoverâ€”would be enough to cripple any other band, but if this set shows nothing else, it shows a band that prides itself on consistency and professionalism, at least when it came to â€œthe showâ€.
By 1978, Kiss was on top of the world as the biggest and most recognizable rock band on the planet. It’s doubtful anyone could have imaged what the next few years would bring. Disc one offers a set of interview excerpts: one from the Land of Hype and Glory in 1978, which featured a band at the top of its game; the other, from The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder in 1979, a band on the brink of collapse. The Snyder interview offered the first glimpse of the inner turmoil of the band, with guitarist Ace Frehley clearly inebriated and monopolizing the conversation, while Gene Simmons stewed in the corner and Paul Stanley attempted to take control (drummer Peter Criss seemed content to ride it out and have a good time).
These two interviews sandwich the meatiest portion of the whole setâ€”a cleaned up, widescreen version of Kiss in Attack of the Phantoms. The movie featured Kiss as superheroes holed up at an amusement park for the summer. Pitched to the band as a mix of The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night and Star Wars, wellâ€¦ it’s hard to imagine how anyone believed it would be a career booster. It does show the band at its hokey best, and is a must-have for any die-hard fan.
The second disc features a wealth of concert footage and TV performances starting with the 1980 video for “Shandi” and ending with an overexposed live performance of “I Love it Loud” from Top Pop in 1982. In this short span of time, the band would lose original drummer Criss, replace him with Eric Carr, drift further away from Frehley and record The Elder, widely considered the worst of the band’s catalogue. It’s not all a downer, as they also enjoyed a wildly successful tour of Australia. Of note on this disc is a snippet from a CNN interview with Criss right after he left the band, and a live set from the TV show Fridays featuring “The Oath”, “A World Without Heroes” and “I”, all off of the aforementioned Elder album.
By disc three, Frehley had left the band, replaced by Vinnie Vincent. The disc opens with a pretty impressive set off the ’83 Creatures of the Night tour, followed by the notorious unmasking interview off MTV (the first time anyone in the band was seen without his makeup). After a couple of songs from a Portugal concert later that year, the set jumps all the way to ’87 and the Crazy Crazy Nights tour, with Bruce Kullick now on guitar. There’s an almost complete concert from the Forever tour, and things close out with an MTV news bulletin announcing the death of Carr and the music video for “God Gave Rock â€˜N’ Roll to You II”, Carr’s last performance with the band.
This is far from a perfect collection. While all the back story is presented in this review, the details surrounding the departing band members are never addressed throughly in the actual DVDs (though the accompanying booklet, which features quotes from the band members to flush out the story, is helpful). So, rather than a documentary, this is more of a snapshot of a band from a certain window of time. There were a bunch of music videos from the Crazy Nights and Hot in the Shade albums, that could have made it on here, or at least some stuff from the Animalize release so the jump from ’83 to ’87 wasn’t so drastic.
Still, for what it is, there are some great gems on hereâ€”the various live versions of “Creatures of the Night”, some stellar Carr drum solos, a particularly nasty Frehley solo and the “God Gave Rock â€˜N’ Roll To You” video in particular. The interview snippets are interesting, and the Australia tour footage is great, too.
Apart from the movie, everything is presented in full screen with a normal stereo sound. However, the concert footage is clear and the sound, while muffled at times, is more than adequate. In fact, the Top Pop performance is the only one that’s difficult to watch.
If you’re a huge Kiss fan, you already own this. If you’re interested in getting your hands on some pretty decent live footage from the time period, this is for you. I’m not sure what this has to offer the casual fan, unless you really wanted that Kiss movie in your collection. For what it is, which seems to be an emptying of the vaults of sorts, this is a solid collection. It just lacks some of the later material (music videos, band interviews from the late ’80s, etc.) to make it perfect.