KISSology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection, Vol. 1: 1974-1977 is the first installment in a proposed three volume set that should cover the band's glorious thirty year plus legacy in depth. The following is a breakdown of what is included on KISSology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection, Vol. 1: 1974-1977 DVD 1:
Acrobat (previously unreleased track) recorded live on 2/17/74 in Long Beach, CA: The video and audio is absolutely atrocious but it's interesting to watch. The video and audio are from two different sources. The video portion is from Long Beach, CA. and the audio is synched from a gig in Memphis, TN in 1974.
ABC "In Concert" recorded on 3/29/74: This was KISS's first TV appearance as it aired in 1974. It includes live performances of the songs Nothing to Lose, Firehouse and Black Diamond and it's a pretty damn good performance at that! The video is not that great, considering it was on TV.
The Mike Douglas Show 4/29/74 Interview: This was a very interesting but awkward moment for KISS. Gene took it upon himself to be the "lamb to the slaughter" and was the only one willing to be interviewed. There is a comical exchange between Gene Simmons and Totie Fields, who tries to mock Gene. When asked who he is, Simmons replies "evil incarnate". The band performs Firehouse live.
Winterland - San Francisco, CA (in Black & White) 1/31/75: This is a live concert and one of the earliest recorded where KISS is filmed as an opening act.. The set list includes Deuce, Strutter, Got to Choose, Hotter than Hell, Firehouse, Watchin' You, Nothin' to Lose, Parasite, 100,000 Years, Black Diamond, Cold Gin and Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll. This is KISS in their prime. What I liked about this particular show, as with most of the concerts presented here, is that it shows an entire KISS performance from start to finish. It's live, it's raw and it's not perfect. There aren't any overdubs. The energy and excitement really comes across which overshadows any flaws. However, the last track, Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll, is cut short and incomplete; somewhat of a disappointment to what was an excellent show.
The Midnight Special 4/1/75: This is another television performance performed live. Deuce, which was aired on the original broadcast, is missing. The set list includes She and Black Diamond, which were recorded in black and white.
Kiss Alive Promo Clips 1975: These are commercial advertisements for the Kiss: ALIVE album where some live footage from the Cobo Hall performances are used with music from the studio versions of Come On and Love Me and Rock and Roll All Night being over-dubbed to the footage.
Documentary: Cadillac, Michigan October 1975: This is actually quite interesting. It shows how KISS influenced a whole town (from kids and parents to local officials, all dressed in KISS make-up) and inspired a loosing football team to win a championship. It also demonstrates how down to Earth KISS was with their fans. KISS performs a concert in the high school auditorium. They even have breakfast with the entire city council wearing full KISS makeup before they make a spectacular exit by helicopter.
Cobo Hall Detroit, MI 1/26/76: This is another classic live KISS performance, only this time in color. This show is taken from the second night of the band's three night stand during their ALIVE tour. The set list includes Deuce, Strutter, C'mon and Love Me, Hotter than Hell, Firehouse, She, Parasite, Nothin' To Lose, 100,000 Years, Black Diamond, Cold Gin, Rock & Roll All Nite and Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll. In it we see the smoking guitar from Ace, the fire spitting from Gene, the on-stage banter from Paul and the extended drum solo from Peter. It is one of the most energetic performances I've ever seen from KISS. The picture is very grainy and also displays numerous flaws and imperfections present in the master tape. The picture quality improves greatly with the encores suggesting that two separate sources were used.
The following is a breakdown of what is included on KISSology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection, Vol. 1: 1974-1977 DVD 2:
"So It Goes" Interview: This is a very short news clip from the UK. It features an interview with all four band members and a some concert footage from KISS's first trek to the UK. They are wearing their ALIVE! outfits but perform songs from the Destroyer album.
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special 10/29/76 Interview: This is a pretty comical and thankfully short sketch. Margaret Hamilton, The Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz, introduces KISS to Paul Lynde, who precedes to ask KISS some sarcastic questions. It is followed by a live but lip synched and terribly butchered and edited version of King of the Night Time World. The quality of the video is excellent.
Budokan Hall - Tokyo, Japan 4/2/77: Another excellent live concert that shows how KISS's live show has progressed, getting bigger and more extravagant with each tour. This is taken from the Rock N' Roll Over tour. Now Gene concentrates on spitting blood! The tracks from this show are Detroit Rock City, Take Me, Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Makin' Love, I Want You, Cold Gin, Do You Love Me?, Nothin' to Lose, God of Thunder, Rock & Roll All Nite, Shout it Out Loud, Beth and Black Diamond.
Don Kirshner's "Rock Concert" 5/28/77: This is another show aired on television. There is live prerecorded footage of the band and all the songs are lip synched...very lame! But it's cool to see KISS live none the less. The songs used here are I Want You, Love `em & Leave `em and Hard Luck Woman.
The Summit - Houston, TX 9/2/77: This concert has the best video quality out of all the live performances on the DVD. The audio and video quality on this one is great, though the footage is quite dark at times due to the venue's poor lighting. The set list includes I Stole Your Love, Take Me, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Love Gun, Hooligan, Makin' Love, Christine Sixteen, Shock Me, I Want You, Calling Dr. Love, Shout It Out Loud, God of Thunder, Rock & Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City. Beth and Black Diamond.
All of the audio commentary is done by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Most of it is provided at the beginning of each segment and doesn't last very long. However, they offer some interesting insights to some of those particular moments. I would have liked to hear more from them as they have some pretty good recollections from times long ago. I also think it sucks that there is no commentary from Peter Criss or Ace Frehley.
There are also a couple of hidden gems within KISSology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection, Vol. 1: 1974-1977, also known as Easter Eggs. . Bring up the Main Menu of the first disc and then press the Up arrow key on your remote control to highlight the KISS logo. Now press Enter and you will see the earliest known KISS performance footage from the concert at the Conventry on December 21 1973 as the band performs Deuce. Now insert the second disc of the set in your DVD player and bring up the Main Menu. There, press the Up arrow key on your remote control to highlight the KISS logo. Press the Enter key now and you will be treated to an extraordinary six-and-a-half minute clip of the band performing at Ace Frehley’s wedding in 1976 – without make-up!
One thing I would have loved to have seen on this DVD set are the commercials for some of the KISS merchandise that they were selling back in 1977, such as the KISS dolls. There was a really cool rock jingle for that commercial. Also, having five performances of Black Diamond and six performances of Firehouse is a bit redundant. But being these songs were included in almost every set list, it's hard not to have them on here without editing the natural flow of the shows.
I feel KISSology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection, Vol. 1: 1974-1977 makes a nice addition to any KISS fans musical collection. But if you wanted "The Best", then you might be a bit disappointed. There are times in the live performances where there are major reminders that the video is dated: horizontal lines across the picture, complete picture blackouts and just plain old low quality video. On the other hand, the audio is a completely different story. The sound has been cleaned up and the menu has an option for listening to it with 5.1 Dolby mix.
Overall, KISSology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection, Vol. 1: 1974-1977 brings back alot of memories for me when I was a kid growing up during that time period. It shows how KISS was one of the hardest working bands in show business and one of the most memorable and energized stage acts of our time.