KISSOLOGY: Volume One 1974-77

KISS

VH-1 Classic, 2006

http://wwww.kissonline.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/31/2007

Despite being on the scene now for over 30 years, there is still something about the hard rock band KISS that raises people’s interest – something especially noted once the original band reunited and donned the stage makeup again. (Although the present-day incarnation of KISS is once again minus Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.)

So it’s not surprising that the demand for a DVD set detailing KISS’s rise to fame, steady downfall and re-emergence as a musical leader would be high. Depending on which source you read and believe, KISSOLOGY is supposed to be either a 10-volume set or a 10-DVD set; I’ll err on the side of caution and believe it will be 10 total DVDs.

The first of these, KISSOLOGY: Volume One 1974-1977, does an outstanding job of showcasing the band as they struggled to build a name for themselves, then command the stage once they finally achieved superstardom.

If I had to mention one or two criticisms at the outset, the first would be that, despite being a fan of KISS, sitting through six hours of essentially the same songs does get tiring after a while. Granted, their repertoire was not particularly large in these days, so repetition is something that cannot be avoided. But I found it was easier to take viewing this set in chunks – one concert at a time, if you will.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The other criticism surrounds the bonus discs – that’s right, discs. Depending on where you bought your set, you got one of three different discs. In my mind, that smacks of gouging, knowing that the rabid KISS fan would gladly shell out three times for the same basic set, just to get all the bonus discs. I’d rather have had them space out KISSOLOGY into 10 to 16 separate single-disc volumes and worked the bonus material into the mix.

All of this being said, a lot of the footage seen on KISSOLOGY: Volume One is surprisingly crisp and clean, despite being at least 30 years old. Yes, the Winterland concert from 1975 is in black and white – somehow, that fits with the band. But to even have the entire concerts from this early in KISS’s existence should be embraced with open arms.

During this point of the band’s history, there’s no mistaking that the leadership is split between Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Ace Frehley usually only comes to the spotlight when it’s time for his solos – kind of a shame, really, but it comes off to the viewer that Frehley is more interested in getting his material played right than jumping around the stage. And while I can’t say that Peter Criss’s drum solos were anything extraordinary, he does show in these performances that he was more than a competent drummer for the band.

It should not be to anyone’s surprise that the first chapter of KISSOLOGY ends on the Love Gun tour, supporting an album that, for many people, did mark the end of KISS’s dominance. We’ll leave it for the review of KISSOLOGY: Volume Two to determine whether this was an accurate belief or not. I’ll simply say this: the correct time to end this set is chosen.

I happened to buy my copy of KISSOLOGY: Volume One at Best Buy, so my bonus DVD came from snippets of KISS’s January 25, 1976 concert at Cobo Hall, Detroit. Why the whole show wasn’t included, I honestly don’t know, especially seeing that one song, “Ladies In Waiting,” was performed on the 25th. It would have been interesting to see if there were any other differences in the set.

While this first compilation is definitely geared towards anyone who grew up in KISS’s salad days (or anyone who is just a fan of this period of KISS’s career), Kissology: Volume One is a pretty definitive collection of the band’s history for the first four years of their existence. It also sets the standard very high for the remainder of the sets to come.

Rating: B+

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© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of VH-1 Classic, and is used for informational purposes only.