“The Encyclopedia of Kiss” by Brett Weiss (McFarland, 2016) is a well-researched guide of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Kiss. The book covers all things Kiss, including facts that even die hard fans may not have known, or have forgotten about.
The book was written, as Weiss details in the opening, because he could not find a detailed book on facts and all things Kiss (besides a book from Japan), being a fan of the band. The research Weiss puts into the book, is remarkable, and it lives up to the subtitle “Music Personnel, Events, and Related Subjects.” It covers names such as merchandise managers to guitar techs, along with the all the members of the band and people who helped out along the way.
The Preface of the book tells how Weiss grew up being a Kiss fan, but unable to afford all of the merchandise that the band bombarded the public with throughout the years, even having to make his own toy Kiss van by putting Kiss stickers on a van. Weiss focused spending his money on the albums and the magazines that the band was featured in, along with telling the story when he and a friend were anxiously waiting for the TV movie “Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park” debut on the television in 1978. Weiss also details the time, after the 1970s when being a Kiss fan “wasn’t cool” among other people , but still kept his love of the band (something I can relate to). The Preface proves that the author is not just writing a book to be published, but shows his love for the band in a touching background of his youth.
The book itself is easy to read , just like a normal encyclopedia. The topics are in alphabetical order, and easy to find throughout. Weiss covers all the eras of the band, not just the original lineup, so there is information on members Eric Singer, Eric Carr, Tommy Thayer, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, and Vinnie Vincent, as well the other bands they were in before (and with some of the members) after their time in Kiss. The collection covers the solo albums of the members, tribute albums (official and unofficial), and the concert tours listed under the name of the tours. Opening acts are mentioned briefly as well as the equipment the band members used during their time.
A Kiss book would not be complete without the merchandise that the band has put out during the years, and Weiss covers them just as well as the other information. The Kiss pinball machines, toys, trading cards, books, are all in here. A surprising topic is the Kiss comic books, and named in the book is Youngstown, Ohio’s Chris Yambar, whose work is in the Simpson’s “Tree House of Horrors” comic that featured Kiss (who also contributed to my ode to the Batman TV Show in this page’s archives). The book covers the Kiss WCW wrestler, and even lists the band’s connections to people like George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
The Gene Simmons appearances are listed as well, from his movies to game shows and reality shows to interviews. The appearances of the other people in the Kiss universe, including the “fake” Peter Criss.
Being a Kiss fan, I thought I knew tons of information about the band, but this book had several things that I learned; including some of the tribute CDs that were released in other countries (one including the music geared to the baby friendly audience) to high schools creating musical productions of the band’s album “Music From The Elder,” and the tour that Gene did not spit fire on (“Hot in the Shade” Tour). I also forgot about the TV Show “PM Magazine,” which I used to watch all the time, where the band made some appearances.
There are a few errors in the book, where the author mentions the song “Dirty Livin” from 1979’s “Dynasty” album and then a few pages later, mentions the song again as “Dirt Livin,” and states that Eric Carr’s “only lead vocal with Kiss” was 1989 “Little Caesar,” but then mentions Carr singing “Beth” in 1989 on “Smashes Trashes and Hits.” Also, there is a note that Eric Carr sang on the song “All For The Glory ” on the “Sonic Boom” CD, when it was Eric Singer. Given all of the information that is listed in the book, a few errors can be overlooked, because it is very far and between. With all the research in the book, a few minor mistakes is expected, and doesn’t take away from this 236 page gem of a writing.
The text also has the author’s views on several of the track listings of the songs, along with some reviews from magazines and websites. The opinions are not offensive for those fans that love certain songs , and some may hate (and vice versa), which makes Kiss fans so unique in their love of certain albums and songs (and members) as opposed to others (This page constantly praises the “Crazy Nights” release which many Kiss fans goof on). There are some nice black and white photographs throughout the book as well covering some of the toys, comics and rarities that is worth the price of the book.
I heard about this book when the author was on the Mitch Lafon “Rock Talk” podcast, and had to seek it out. Even though it is not an official Kiss book, this book is a must have to add to the Kiss collection. The research and easy to find topics, makes the book a great go-to text reference for Kisstory fans. McFarland Publishing has had many wonderful writers and books released that have been featured on this page, and “Encyclopedia of Kiss” is another wonderful piece of work. A Kiss fan’s collection is not complete without having this book on their shelf.
Thank you to McFarland for the Review Copy of the book.
“Encyclopedia of Kiss” by Brett Weiss (2016 McFarland pISBN: 978-0-7864-9802-4 eISBN: 978-1-4766-2540-9) can be found at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or at their order line at 800-253-2187.
For information about Brett Weiss, go to http://www.brettweisswords.com