Coming of age as a KISS fan in the late 70’s and early 80’s I craved information on the Hottest Band In The Land. By the mid 80’s I finally had my own disposable income by way of a paper route. Any magazine that contained even a paragraph about KISS I purchased. Spending hours at the public library going through old Billboard magazine’s just to see how Music from the Elder charted upon release. And it all seemed to come in small amounts. Now? You can’t swing a Peter Criss bobble head without hitting some new rock bio about our favorite grease-painted New Yorkers. Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter have all written books. Former tour managers, former friends, and even an ex-girlfriend have all piled on to the pile that is KISS related literature. They should almost have their own Dewey Decimal at this point.
Fluff. Dirt. Photos. If you write it. They will come. KISS themselves recently released a book so big you need an easel (and 5 grand) just to view it. Those looking for the latest perfect bound prose of KISSinformation (trademark Bakko) comes to us from McFarland Books and author Brett Weiss with his book the Encyclopedia of KISS. I wasn’t sure what to expect upon receiving the book but the title says it all. It’s a KISS encyclopedia. An alphabetical list of every person, place, song, album, party or item that relates to KISS and why. I started flipping through this thing thinking “How the f*&k do you review an encyclopedia?” By the accuracy of the info? By what was or wasn’t left out? (Not much that I can tell.)
Here’s my dilemma. There is literally no chance I will sit down and read this book cover to cover. It’s an alphabetical reference for Christ’s sake. A paragraph talking about the song “Partners In Crime” isn’t exactly must read material. But it is a must have for KISS fans. I will gladly ensure fellow KISS Army members. You want this book.
There’s another KISS book out there that is a list of every show KISS has ever done. Mostly dates and locations with set lists and an occasional anecdote. I found it odd how many times I have heard a KISS fan talk about what a great ‘book’ it is. It’s pages of lists. It’s data. It’s the KISS equivalent baseball media guide. It’s not a gripping read. Yet to some KISS fans it may as well be War and Peace. The same could be said about the Encyclopedia of KISS. This isn’t a book you curl up with a blanket and a cup of cocoa as it takes you on a journey of the mind. Its purpose is a more practical one. And KISS fans love this shit.
This is the ultimate companion piece to any KISS book, movie, music video, album, documentary or anything you may find yourself digesting regarding KISS. Maybe you’re curious who the song “Childhood’s End” from Carnival of Souls is about or who Joe Smith is or whether or not that KISS microphone you heard about was a myth or a real official piece of KISS merchandise. It’s in here. I’m aware of the internet and how it can provide you the answer many of these questions but the info in this book has been vetted. Maybe Google gave you the Sean Delaney you were looking for. Maybe it didn’t.
This book is exactly what it says it is. And it’s as dense as it is thorough. Someone looking for untold stories of KISS won’t find it here. An organized reference of all things KISS you will. Odds are if you’re still reading then you’re the person this book was written for.