KISS - Kissology Vol. I - 1974-1977
Release Date: October 31, 2006
Label: VH1 Classic Records

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In the 1970s, KISS was the biggest band in the world. But, like every band, they had to start somewhere. Kissology Vol I - 1974-1977 documents the rise of KISS from a bar band to the year they were voted the "most popular band in the United States" by a Gallup Poll.

Kissology is a nearly six hour DVD collection of KISS concerts, performances, and promotional clips from various sources (and of varying quality) that one can use to visibly chart the band's popularity and improvement as musicians and showmen.

If you're not a KISS fan, this collection will not appeal to you at all. In fact, for some, sitting through umpteen renditions of KISS classics like "Black Diamond", "She", "Nothin' to Lose" and, of course, "Rock and Roll All Nite" might seem like torture. However, for a dyed-in-the-wool KISS fan, like myself, this is tantamount to nirvana.

One thing that makes Kissology such a joy for KISS fans is that it's evident that KISS was once a band that hungered for success and delivered shows that were so full of energy that it's no wonder that they eventually became the biggest band in the world for a time. Seeing them perform "She" on The Midnight Special and winning over an initially skeptical crowd to the point of receiving a standing ovation is something magical. That performance is killer. KISS bludgeons the crowd into submission.

Back then, KISS was a new band and no one had seen anything quite like them before. I can only imagine what the crowd was thinking when they walked out onstage. Sure, Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls, among others, had brought theatricality to rock 'n' roll before, but not with the sheer intensity of KISS in their prime. Seeing Peter Criss' drumset rise out of the smoke during "Black Diamond" had to have caused a lot of people to wonder, "Who, or what, are these guys?"

Due to the age of some of the clips -- and the fact that in the early 1970s, video wasn't exactly a stable technology -- some of the performances are marred by poor quality images. Apparently some of these clips are available from bootleg sources in better shape, but what's here isn't that bad. The main issues are drop-outs, excessive grain or static -- sometimes all three in rapid succession. The sound, however, is fantastic in most cases. The music has been remixed in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and truly sounds great.

Included with some copies of Kissology is a bonus disc featuring a concert from 1 of 3 possible cities. The copy I have includes a December, 1977 concert from Largo, Maryland. The other two bonus discs feature a January, 1976 concert from Detroit and a February, 1977 show from New York City. What disc you get depends on where you buy your copy. (Some stores' versions do not have a third disc, so make sure you pay attention to the packaging.)

KISS plan to release two more Kissology collections, presumably featuring performances and footage from 1977 until the present. If they're even close to being as interesting and as well put together as Volume I, I'll snap them up without hesitation.

If you're a KISS fan, or know one, this is an absolutely essential purchase.

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