I make a full admission upfront; call it a guilty pleasure or an attempt to hold onto my youth, but I have Kiss music on my Ipod…a lot of it. That may not be the coolest thing to admit, but then again I never claimed to be the coolest guy. That being said, I am not now, nor was I ever, a card carrying member of the Kiss Army, the band’s enthusiastic, over the top (would you expect anything less) fan club.
So that is the perspective that I take going into Nothing to Lose: The Making of Kiss 1972 – 1975 from author Ken Sharp and the band’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, the latest entry on the shelf full of books that try to tackle the Kiss story. Given the time parameters of the title, it’s a safe bet that there is more of the story to be told. Having muddled through some of the prior books, I wasn’t surprised that much of the tale was familiar.
Nothing to Lose is delivered in a similar fashion to Steve Miller’s book Detroit Rock City with numerous participants delivering their take on the same subject. You may find yourself flipping back and forth in an attempt to follow who the person is that is offering up their take given the fact that many of those quoted are unknown, early fans, roadies, promoters, bar owners and fellow musicians. After awhile this approach takes on a beating a dead horse quality; you’d have to really be a die-hard to care about the perspective of the bar owner, the bar owner’s son, the bar owners daughter, the regular bar patrons, and the regular bar patrons best friend. You get the picture, it becomes what I call a Tom Petty Moment; to borrow his album title Let Me Up I’ve Had Enough!
While it clearly details the early struggles, the book also captures the band’s meteoric rise from dinky, dingy clubs to huge arenas; from early striped down efforts to full blown pyrotechnics, lights and elevating stages. It is clearly the original lineup of Kiss that remains the one that matters most to their diehard fans and Nothing to Lose does an amazing job of telling that story and telling it again and again and again. Not sure that this one is for the casual fan or guilty pleasure seeker.