The KISSOLOGY series is for me, KISS at its very best; celebrating the bands' legacy, and properly doing justice to it, by generously loading DVD's full of top quality, vintage footage.
Volume 1 (1974-1977) was just incredibly good, with 4 classic concerts from the 70's all in superb quality, visually and sonically, plus a bunch of other little gems - the standout for me being the "So It Goes" TV segment from the 1976 UK tour at the Free Trade Hall Manchester.
Volume 2 was always going to struggle to live up to volume 1, simply because KISS was in it's prime on volume 1, whereas volume 2 covers a period where the band fell from grace, lost it's popularity and reinvented itself as a regular, makeup-free, hard rock band.
But this set is an astounding success. Starting with the TV segment "Land of Hype and Glory", Volume 2 is off to a cracking start, showcasing how by 1978, on the Alive II tour, KISS had become the greatest rock'n'roll show in history.
Then for me the highlight of the package; the movie "KISS in Attack of the Phantoms". Since watching this film in a cinema in 1980 (Odeon Theatre Chester, UK) when I was 8 years old, I have always remembered it and looked upon it as some kind of legendary classic; a movie celebrating KISS at the top. That legend was somewhat spoiled when the VHS version was officially released in the late 80's, albeit not sanctioned by KISS, as "(KISS Meets) The Phantom of the Park". The VHS version was nothing like the version I had in my heart of seeing this at the cinema in 1980; the sound quality was poor, the picture was poor and the theme music was laughable 70's cartoon music.
I was astounded by the quality of "Attack of the Phantoms" on KISSOLOGY. The picture is really superb, much, much better than the VHS version, and a bootleg of "Attack" that I had on DVD. I can't imagine the effort that must have gone into tracking down the original master tape of this European theatrical version, negotiating the rights to it's release, and then restoring it to its former glory. This is what makes the KISSOLOGY series so utterly invaluable, the length to which KISS has gone out of their way, to provide real quality. The fact that you also get audio commentary from 3 of the actors in the movie, just demonstrates this even further.
For this pristine copy of Phantoms alone, KISSOLOGY volume 2, is well worth every penny.
I really enjoyed the rest of discs 1 and 2, the hilarious (from all but Gene's point of view) Tom Synder interview, the fantastic "Shandi" music video, Peter Criss CNN interview, and a real surprise stand-out, the lip-synched German TV performances of "She's So European" and "Talk To Me" which are both in pristine quality. Really, really wonderful stuff.
The Australian documentaries are also real gems and the Sydney Showgrounds show is a excellent document of that tour. This for me is not a period where KISS was at its best. The show wasn't nearly as good as the Love Gun show and the band, albeit as hard-working as ever, never sounded as good as they had in the '70's. That said, it is wonderful that this gig has been included on KISSOLOGY, because it does provide the best possible evidence of what KISS was like at that point in their career. I also think this show is slightly better performance than the Largo 1979 show (available as a 4th bonus disc from certain retailers) and KISS made the right decision to go with this one.
The Elder period is covered as well as could be expected, with the live performance of 3 songs on US TV show "Fridays". Although I love the Elder album, the band was really struggling for its identity at that time, and this is not the most enjoyable section of the KISSOLOGY series to watch. That said, the picture and sound quality is excellent; unlike the Dutch TV version of "I Love It Loud" that polishes of disc 2, which is pretty much "bootleg" quality.
Disc 3 covers a period where KISS lost their way, both identity-wise, and for me musically. I have a hard time watching the Creatures concert from Rio. The Lick It Up and Crazy Nights concert footage really just shows an inferior version of the band. Still a great, hard-working rock band, but not a shadow of it's former self. Bruce's flamboyant widdly guitar style and Eric's overly-elaborate drumming, coupled with Paul Stanley's less than stellar, or faithful, vocal renditions of the classics, just turns me off. It had to be included in the set of course - to document this period in the band's career - but it is uncomfortable at times. That's fine, thank heavens for the menu selection options !
Disc 3 does however show that without makeup KISS could still put on a fantastic performance that did live up to the legend of the 70's. The Hot In The Shade show on disc 3 is excellent, Paul Stanley alone proves himself to be probably the greatest front-man of all time, and coupled with a really tight band performance, and great stage-set, KISS is finally back !
The great "God Gave Rock'n'Roll To You II" promo video, as tribute to Eric Carr, is a fitting and touching way to close the set and the hospital footage of Eric after the credits have rolled, is just very moving and I think perfectly apt.
I couldn't imagine giving this set any less than 5 stars. It covers the period I think suitably. There are criticisms that the Asylum/Animalize period was not covered. I personally do not miss this exclusion, and believe the sans-make-up period is already best covered by the stellar HITS gig. However it must also be pointed out to the detractors that the Animalize Uncensored gig - is owned by Universal - address your complaints to them, not the makers of KISSOLOGY.
In conclusion I would say this, the KISSOLOGY series for me is the greatest release in the history of the band. Volume 1 highlights the pinnacle of the band's career, Volume 2 does a brilliant job of covering the years it covers 1978-1991. The value for money is astounding, as is the obvious amount of time and dedication that must have gone into putting this all together in such an attractive and comprehensive set.
The Hottest Band in the World - this is the evidence.