KISS have taken their share of grief over the years, over everything from outlandish makeup and costumes to their musical identity. Heck, band members have been known to be pretty rough on themselves at times.
But 45 gold albums, worldwide sales of more than 80-million and a large and loyal fan base (The KISS Army) are testimony not to be taken lightly.
Two Down, One to Go
You can't really call the KISSology series a documentary. Rather, it is something of a videomentary of the long and colorful career of KISS.
Volume 1, released in 2006, covered the band's formative years, from 1974 through 1977, a time when the band was establishing itself as one of the most entertaining, if unpredictable, live bands around. It's no coincidence that the group's breakthrough album was its forth release, Alive!, the first KISS live album, released in September 1975.
Personally, I think the next phase of KISS history, documented in Kissology: The Ultimate KISS Collection - Vol. 2 1978-1991 is the more interesting, because it covers the time when the band underwent a major transformation as it shed its costumes and masks. It was also the time of the most inner turmoil, when original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss first left the band (both later returned) and when KISS was searching for an identity beyond the face paint and outlandish garb.
Let the Videomentary Begin
The sheer tonnage in this four-DVD set is remarkable. That's more than four hours of concert footage, music videos, interviews, TV appearances, news clips, and even the band's foray into feature films.
TV interviews and the critically flogged made-for-TV movie, KISS In Attack Of The Phantoms comprise Disc 1.
A mixture of performances, interviews, and a documentary on the band's 1980 Australian tour make up Disc 2. Audio commentary from Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick is also found here.
Disc 3 contains more performance footage, and the infamous 1983 MTV appearance in which the band appears for the first time ever without makeup and costumes.
A "bonus" disc has a performance from the 1988 Crazy Nights tour of Japan.
All of the performance footage has been digitally remastered and restored.
Confessions of a Casual Observer
It isn't that I dislike KISS, it's just that I never really connected with the shtick, or with most of the music. If it's possible to be lukewarm about a band like KISS, I am.
That said, this is some very interesting stuff. The live performances, garish and bombastic though they may be, are compelling. The interviews are intriguing. The commentary from Simmons, Stanley and Kulick is frank and honest.
Be ye fan or be ye foe or be ye somewhere in the middle like me, this set has both entertainment and historic value. I wouldn't call it a must-have, but it should be on your list of "gets" when you have a few extra bucks (and time) to spend learning about a most interesting period in the history of a most interesting band.