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Ghost Canyon

'Kiss: Kissology Volume II 1978-1991'
(KISS / 4-Disc DVD / NR / 2007 / VH1 Classics)

Overview: KISS have always had an approach to their fans that on the one hand could be seen as ridiculously crass and on the other as truly generous. And this release, with its three expertly mastered and crammed DVDs--issued with three separate bonus discs--could easily support either view. The second installment in KISS's Kissology DVD series will sort out the casual fans from the true members of the KISS Army. The material included here, after all, begins in 1978, when the band released four separate solo albums at once and their massive popularity began to wane. It continues on through the controversial makeup-free period and ends in '91, as KISS struggled to cope with the ascendancy of grunge over the hair metal style they'd experienced a second boom with.

DVD Verdict: KISSology Vol. 1 was one of the greatest music DVD's ever released. A tremendous collection of great, vintage KISS concerts and TV apperances, KISSology really raised the bar when it comes to career retrospectives on DVD.

Now, KISS has released the 2nd volume in the KISSology series, covering 1978-1991. It's got almost everything from that era that fans have wanted on DVD (almost, there are some exceptions) - The Land of Hype and Glory, The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder (Ace is a RIOT), Australia 1980, FRIDAYS (!!!), Brazil 1983, a couple songs from the first post-makeup concert, and a complete concert from one of their greatest tours ever - the Hot In The Shade tour! Leon Sphinx was pretty darned cool as the centerpiece, and the band was ON!

There are some other goodies, but the one I intentionally left out until now is KISS in ATTACK OF THE PHANTOMS - the European theatrical version of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. Supposedly there are scenes cut from the US version, and the score is different in parts as well. This will be a lot of fun to watch - as long as you "get it." It's a 70's campy TV movie, and for that time and genre it is a lot of fun.

The DVD ends with the passing of the great Eric Carr (I had the opportunity to meet him in 1990 - he truly was a great guy, and he is very much missed), leaving the Revenge era for Vol. 3.

Could there be more on there from the 80's? Animalize Live Uncensored is a glaring omission, as is anything from the entertaining Asylum tour, but this is still one heck of a tracklisting and another great release!

UPDATE: After watching the entire set a few things stand out. 1.) The Australia show from 1980 was fantastic. The band was MUCH tighter than the previous year on the Dynasty tour (I got each set, and after watching the Largo disc it was like night and day). 2.) The Brazil 1983 show was heavily edited by the TV network that aired it, and as such a few songs have been shortened in this presentation. 3.) They should have included more songs from the Philadelphia 1987 show. The band was ON, and it would have been nice to have more of this show. 4.) The 1990 Hot in the Shade show is edited. "Rise To It," is missing - they show the bluesy intro, but skip the song. WTF? Eric Carr's drum solo is also edited, but this is understandable - he sampled the intro to the Who's "Who Are You," and that becomes a rights issue. That part of the solo is gone. Interestingly enough, it was edited out so well that you wouldn't notice it isn't there if you didn't know. 5.) The Land of Hype and Glory is edited far too short, and the Tom Snyder appearance is cut in half (Space Bear is MIA).

But, keep in mind - everything that IS here is VERY cool. The footage from Fridays is pristine! The commentary throughout is very good as well, and even Bruce gets in on the commentary action! (Way to go Bruce!) The Detroit 1990 show is a great performance from a GREAT tour with a GREAT stage set. A tour that Paul and Gene still rank as one of their best ever. This set is a very, very solid continuation of what they started with Vol. 1. Could it have been better? Yes. But it is still a great set if you go by what is included rather than what is left out.

Also - ATTACK OF THE PHANTOMS is practically a different movie from Phantom of the Park. Previously unused scenes, extended scenes, music from the solo albums as part of the score, and a rearranged order of what happens in the movie. Some of these things are HUGELY positive (added scenes and dialogue is a big improvement), but some are detrimental (taking events out of order hurts the movie as some things make even LESS sense here). ATTACK is also in anamorphic widescreen, cropped from the original 4:3 TV format (although the cropping is usually done very well).

There is also a very reverential tone towards the late Eric Carr. Eric was a really, really nice guy. (Everyone who met him says that - I met him as well, and he was just REALLY nice and had no inflated "Rock Star Ego." In the commentary Paul hints at regrets at how things unfolded as Eric was dying in 1991. And watch through the credits at the end. In one way it's hard to watch this bonus, but in another it is a nice tribute - and a slight glimpse of Eric's sense of humor and how much he cared about the fans.)

Bottom line? If you're a serious fan, you've got to have it in your collection. If you're just a casual fan you should still get it since the price is right for what you get and the set is a lot of fun to watch.