Johan Falk and Roney Lundell – Kiss i Sverige

The bible about Kiss in Sweden

This is a book I have been looking forward to reading for years. It almost feels like ten years since I first heard from Johan Falk that he was working on a book about all Kiss visits to Sweden. A really interesting topic for a norwegian Kiss fan like me, because Kiss became huge in Norway because of their success in Sweden. It was Swedish magazines we all read and Swedish Kiss posters we plastered the walls with in the end of the 70′s and the 80′s. Swedish magazines like POSTER Magazine, OKEJ and Rocket were the ones that had all the original content about the band. The few articles in Norwegian magazines were more or less just cut and paste jobs from foreign magazines.

The story about Kiss relationship with Sweden (and of course Norway) is really a special one in Kisstory. There are nowhere around the world you will find as many Kiss fans per capita in the world. And even if Kiss have been huge in both the US, Japan and Australia under certain periods, It does not seem like the same “love story” Kiss have had with Scandinavian countries for decades.

As I said Johan has been working on this book for ages. And in the end he has been able to finish It with help from Roney Lundell and well known figures from Kiss Army Sweden like Marko Rouvinen, Alexander Bergdahl and Niklas Olsson. And has It been worth the wait? Of course It have!

The authors have really managed to reach their goal who was to document all Kiss visits to Sweden as complete as possible. They have managed to track down the most important people and get the essence out of hundreds of hours of interviews.

I was worried for a minute or two when I read that Alexander Bergdahl would be writing all the reviews about all the concerts. He quite a character and even unfriended me on Facebook after writing some positive stuff about todays line-up. So I really feared he would not  be very objective about the bands later concerts in Sweden. Especially after I read Carl Linnaeus book “Kiss – Den Osminkade Sanningen” where he also helped out. But he proved me wrong. His reviews are really good and is more or less how I would have described the Swedish concerts I have seen myself.

The book is filled with facts that I have never read anywhere before, and the pictures are just amazing. There are hundreds of pictures I haven’t seen before. Of course the early ones that gets me most excited. But the quality of the stuff is just incredible throughout the book. So even if you can’t read the book (It’s only in Swedish) It’s worth buying just for the pictures. And if you have the time use Google translate to read the text. It will be worth It.

There is really nothing negative to say about the content at all. And with the enormous amount of content Johan had, Roney have managed to reduce It to a perfect size. There are only two very minor things about the book that bothers me, and the second is even less than minor. First I would have had describing text and credits on the pictures. It’s in the back, but It’s to much work so they will never be read. I’m reading the book for the third time now and I have still to read more than the information for a couple of pics. The second thing are the typography of the quotes. Why Marko has chosen to make them in a smaller font I really don’t know? I would expect It to be the other way around. But It’s not a big deal at all. It just looks a little strange and makes It hard for me to read the quotes without glasses. ;-)

But all in all an incredible book that I will read and look at over and over again. So buy It before the first printing of 2000 are gone! It’s an important book that all “dedicated” Kiss fans should have. And I feel really honored that Johan has put my name in the thank you list of the book. It feels really good to have had even an incredibly small part in helping out putting this book together.

Verdict: 9,9/10

Nothin’ To Lose – The Making of KISS – 1972 – 1975

I have been in vintage Kiss heaven

The titel above probably says the most. There is no reason to not start this review with stating that I just love this book. And I haven’t even been able to get my hands on a “real copy” yet. I had to read the Kindle version on my iPhone while I was on vacation in Spain. And I really hate reading books on anything else but paper. But when It comes to this book It’s pure magic anyway!

Ken Sharp has really done It this time. He has always been a great writer when It comes to Kiss related stuff. And “Behind The Mask” was a really good book. His articles in Goldmine magazine has also been among the best Kiss articles / interviews ever written. So I expected that I would enjoy the book. But not even close to how much I did.

I feel like I have more or less in the same room as Kiss during the first years of their career. All the details and great interviews Ken has made almost made me feel the smell of The Popcorn Club / Coventry, Daisy and The Hotel Diplomat. There has been som critique that the book goes into to much detail. Bollocks I say. It’s just so damn good that I want more, just because the book takes me to a ‘magic place’ that we just have had glimps of before.

And the good stuff does not stop in 73. The book is as great the whole way through as Ken uses interviews to guide us through the building of Kiss career up until Alive! brick for brick. It will probably come as a surprise how calculated their career have been from day one. Or at least after they met Bill Aucoin and Neil Bogart. And the stories in the book really makes me understand much better why Paul and Gene seems so frustrated with Peter and Ace even today.

The end with the success with Alive! really becomes a little anticlimax just because the book is so good that you just want It to go on. At least until the breakup of the original band in 1979. So I really hope Ken is planning a follow up for the years 1976 – 1979 (or 1982 when Ace left the band).

The book is also crammed full off great mostly unpublished photos. I won’t spoil to much. It just have to be seen. But the book is worth the price for just the pics alone. And I would probably have graded It as high as I do even without any pictures.

The only irritating thing about the book is that It will keep the urban legend about Ace beeing airbrushed in half the face on the Hotter Than Hell cover alive. That did not happend. Even if Gene says so in the book. The “half make-up” session was a later Norman Seeff session than the album cover session. I would also have liked even more stuff about Sean Delaney. But none of this changes the fact that this is a incredible written piece of rock history!

So just go out and buy the book! As a Kiss fan It’s a book you must have!

Verdict: 10/10

Carl Linnaeus – “Kiss – Den osminkade sanningen”.

Really, really close, but no cigar

Kiss - Den Osminkade SanningenOne of the most awaited Kiss books in a long time. Carl have written a lot of great articles for Sweden Rock Magazine, and among them some great Kiss articles. So I was really looking forward to the book, and guessed this could be the ultimate Kiss biography.

First of all, the book is really well written. And It looks great. The cover is probably one of the coolest covers on a Kiss book yet. I also like the pictures he has chosen for the book. It’s nice to at last have the Dennis Woloch pictures in a book. The Ken Kelly sketch is also a nice touch.

And now for the though part, the content. First of all i should say It’s a really good book, and as I said really well written. And If you haven’t read a Kiss biography before this is probably the book for you (if you can read Swedish). And Carl has also interviewed some of the coolest subjects in Kisstory for the book. But that is really where the problem starts for me.

As a person with a pretty extensive Kiss library It feels a lot as I have read most of this before. Of course there are some tidbits that’s new and I find really interesting. But I just feel with all the characters Carl have access to It’s a real shame that he haven’t dug deeper into their history with Kiss. Like Dennis Woloch. He has had so much more history with Kiss beside designing the covers. But as most of the other interview subjects in the book It seems like he is only scratching the surface, so we only get the same stories that have been told before. The exception is Jean Beauvoir that goes deeper than most of the other stuff.

I would also like some more references in some places. It’s a little difficult sometimes to see what’s facts, claims and the what’s the author’s own opinions.

I must admit that I’m also not that fond of stuff that’s written in a narrative way when the writer is not part of what is happening. And Carl does this in the start of some chapters. It’s not a big thing. It just ends up sounding like fiction to me and that’s not a nice touch in a biography for me. It’s a different genre for me.

What’s really nice is that the book goes up more or less to today. And there are some quite interesting stuff from the last couple of years. Even if Carl does not go deep into this period and omits stuff I would like to read about like the Kiss Kruise etc.

But even with all my negatives. Don’t be scared. If you’re able to read the book and you’re a Kiss fan It’s a must buy. And It’s probably the first really good ordinary Kiss biography around, even if It does not really go deep into what happened in Kisstory trough the years. So It’s really good. But It’s not “magical” like I hoped It would be.

Verdict: 8/10

KISS FAQ

Kiss Faq but not from the Kiss Faq…

Kiss Faq is a new book from the author of the Black Diamond books Dale Sherman. The first one was a good book back in the days when there was not many Kiss books around. And I also enjoyed the updated version that came out a couple of years ago. Not the most objective Kiss book in the world but still quite good. The second Black Diamond book is maybe not that great. But still a Kiss book that a Kiss book nerd like me have to have.

So I was really curious what Dale would come up with the this time. It’s supposedly part of a series. That’s why It’s have a little confusing name. An name I find a little uncool because everything in the “Kiss world” related to the name “Kiss Faq” is related to Julian Gills www.kissfaq.com. And naming the book Kiss Faq after Julian have released a lot of great books are just wrong in my opinion.

But lets not butcher a book because It has the wrong name. The book is actually quite good. Not among the best Kiss books I have read. But a lot more objective than i found Black Diamond to be. The book is very fact orientated and It’s very obvious that the author doesn’t have any inside information on the band. And there is not much new stuff that haven’t been covered in other Kiss books. So I really would say It’s more a book for a “Kiss novice” than a long time fan that has read a lot about Kiss. But the author should have kudos for having small chapters on Bill Aucoin, Sean Delaney etc.

What I do find confusing about the book is how the content is divided in the book. It’s really isn’t chronological and jumps all over the place. I understand that the author wanted to do It a little bit different. But I’m not really sure how good It works. But the quality content makes It readable anyway.

Would I recommend buying the book? Not really sure. For Kiss book nerds It’s a must. But for someone just interested reading about the history of the band I would really pick up Julian Gill’s Kiss Album Focus book or even the second edition of Dale Sherman’s Black Diamond book.

Verdict: 6/10

 

 

Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss

The catmans version of the truth

After quite disappointing books from both Gene and Ace I really felt that Peter probably would be the one that would deliver a book that I would enjoy reading. Even if I have always seen Peter as “the Brooklyn Moaner” It at least should be good entertainment. I brought the signed book with me on the Kiss Kruise, but were not able to read It before I came home.

I really don’t know why. But I really don’t care much for the childhood tales from any of the Kiss members. Peter’s book is no exception. It’s fine to read but not that entertaining. But from when he joins Kiss in the book the really grows. And yes he does do a lot of moaning. But at least he seems sincere and It’s nice to get his version of the story from his point of view. It makes the book a really enjoyable read. Even if It doesn’t really change my view of Peter Criss as a Kiss member much. Peter is really a moaner. And in one way the book is a deep dive into his personality. A guy who is really insecure and feels the world is really against him. But for the most the bad things that happen to him is his own fault even if the feels he has to put the blame on other people.

His description of Gene and Paul is more or less how I would expect It to be. And my appreciation of the guys are really higher than before I read the book. From what I can read from in-between the lines they really threaded Peter more than fair. Peters portrayal of Ace is a lot less flattering than I would expect It to be. He seems to feel that he has been more or less betrayed by the guy in the band that really should have covered his back.

The coverage of the history of Kiss is much better than in any of the other two Kiss biographies. And even if there are a couple of factual faults they are not as common as in the other Kiss biographies. So as a Kiss biography I really love this book. Even if It doesn’t do Peter any favors.

So I must applaud Peter for his sincerity in the book. I only wish he had dived even deeper into a lot of stuff in Kisstory. But good stuff always leaves you wanting more… Buy the damn book!

Verdict: 8/10

 

 

Kiss Army Spain – Cronicas De Una Decada 1973 – 1983

Kiss Army Spain membership package

Just got back from 12 days in sunny Spain last week. So what is more appropriate than reviewing the new Kiss Army Spain membership package that came in the post at more or less the same time I came home. The package includes both a 113 page book in colour and a DVD from when Kiss played in Madrid 14 October 1983.

I don’t speak Spanish. So my review of the book is more or less just based on the visuals, just as I do with Japanese books. And what a great book It is to look at. The book is crammed with great pictures. Most of them really great photos that have surfaced on the web over the last 4-5 years. And It is really great to have them collected in a great book like this. It really saved me money because I was planning of making a iPhoto book of most of these pictures myself anyway.

The layout of the book reminds me very much of Kiss Army Swedens Destroyer Magazine. Nothing wrong with that. If you have made a book that has a layout that is close to what is probably best Kiss Magazine ever made (both official and not) for a whole book you have done something right. So I must just say that I’m really impressed with the quality of the book, and I got a much better product than I expected. If there is one thing I could put my finger on It’s probably the cover itself. It’s OK, but quite boring compared to the rest of the book. It really doesn’t do such a great book justice.

And then there is the DVD. Most of us DVD collector were really excited when the new clips for Madrid showed up a while ago on YouTube. Most of the clips just looked amazing. But then most stuff that’s not really bad do in lower resolution on YouTube. So my expectations concerning the quality of the disc was probably a little to high. Especially since the tour is really important for me since It was the first tour I saw myself. What I didn’t expect was that some of the stuff seem to be YouTube sourced. So the quality of that stuff is far from great. But the other stuff is just amazing. And thank God that is most of the content of on the disc. It’s taken from a source that probably have seen It’s best days. But the quality is more than OK anyway. I’m just really thankful that this stuff is out. So I must say overall I really enjoyed the DVD also.

So the package over all is great. If you have been thinking of ordering It. Just do It.

Verdict. Book: 9/10 – DVD: 7/10