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KISS - Kissology Vol. 2 - 1978-1991
Release Date: August 14, 2007
Label: VH1 Classic Records

Rating:
****
out of
*****

Picking up where Kissology Vol. 1 - 1974-1977 left off, Kissology Vol. 2 - 1978-1991 compiles concert footage, videos, TV appearances and KISS' TV movie from the most turbulent era of KISS' history. While the first volume managed to cover three years on three DVDs, this second collection spans 13 years in just three discs. Needless to say, this collection is much less thorough and, as a result, much less satisfying.

In 1978, KISS was at the height of their popularity. However, all was not well in the camp. The first disc of the collection chronicles this in the form of a clip from NBC's documentary "Land of Hype and Glory", a 1979 interview with Tom Snyder and, sandwiched between them, the European theatrical version of the movie, Attack of the Phantoms, which was aired on U.S. television as "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park." It's obvious from the content of the disc that KISS had started to lose their focus and were spiraling out of control.

On the second disc, we go from 1980's "Shandi" video (the last appearance of Peter Criss as an original member) through to a 1982 appearance on a European show with the band lip-synching "I Love It Loud." In that span of time, Peter Criss was fired, the band's musical direction included a misguided attempt at pop (Unmasked), a concept album (Music from 'The Elder'), and the eventual departure of Ace Frehley, the original lead guitarist. This is all captured in the priceless commentary by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, who are very frank in their assessment of the band's nearly complete self-destruction. The highlights of the second disc are a 1980 concert from Sydney, Australia and the band's 1982 appearance on ABC's comedy show, Fridays, promoting 'The Elder.'

The third DVD includes most of a Brazilian 1983 concert that features a crowd of over 100,000 fans and a monstrous performance from the band. Also included are 1983's MTV special where the band appeared without makeup for the first time, a few songs from the first concert KISS played without makeup, an incomplete concert from 1987's Crazy Nights tour, and a nearly complete show from 1990's Hot in the Shade tour. Strangely, there's nothing included from 1984's Animalize or 1985's Asylum albums which were two of the biggest of their post-makeup career.

Omission is Kissology Vol. 2's biggest problem. Things that should be included (Animalize Live Uncensored comes to mind) aren't and things that are included are strangely edited. The Tom Snyder interview -- which is available in a complete form on YouTube of all places -- is missing Peter talking about his gun collection and Ace's unveiling of Space Bear, among other things. Why? The Hot in the Shade concert is missing "Rise to It", even though the bluesy solo intro is included. Why? On the bonus fourth disc -- I bought the version with the 1979 Largo, Maryland concert from the Dynasty tour -- three songs are removed, including the opening song! Why? Kissology Vol. 2 covers the most difficult and varied era of the band's career, so it's disappointing to see so much material missing, ignored, or otherwise incomplete.

What did manage to make it into this collection is well worth buying for any KISS fan even though they may already have some of it from other sources. What makes it really worth it is the commentary from Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Hearing Gene and Paul make the admission of guilt for Music from 'The Elder', Unmasked, and also for not listening to Ace enough is worth the price alone. The fantastic Hot in the Shade concert is also a big bonus. The quality of the more recent footage is worth noting, especially when compared to the rather shoddy footage on Kissology Vol. 1. Although the 1980 Sydney concert is on film and has been remixed, the 1990 Auburn Hills, MI concert that closes the set is on video and features great sound.

If you're a KISS fan, you already have this set. If not, you will shortly. If you're not a KISS fan, this won't make you one. (Although I could see that happening with Kissology Vol. 1 because it featured a band hungry to capture your attention.) I hope that Kissology Vol. 3, which will take the band into the Revenge era, the 1996 reunion tour, and beyond is much more inclusive than this set. Being that it will also span a period of nearly 15 years, I doubt it will be.

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