Kiss Alive Forever
The Complete Touring History
By Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs (Billboard Books)
by Martin Popoff
And so it continues that the best books on Kiss are from outsiders or now-exiled once-insiders. First there was Kiss and Sell, then there were the horrifying, edifying Ace exposés from Gordon G. G. Gebert as well as the two Black Diamond books courtesy of Dale Sherman. All are essential, variously illuminating, quite funny, and fanatically investigative like the principals would never manage (see Gene’s comb-overs of Kisstory). Kiss Alive Forever is a fine addition to that hall of infamy. Please, for the love of hard luck women everywhere, lift this tome off the shelf, get past the crap cover (note: No proper Kiss logo, your first assurance of quality), the dull title, and the less than enticing subtitle, and take a close flip through. Why? Because even though the book is framed as an exhaustive walk-through of every show the band ever played (1810 of them), including, I dunno, a couple hundred or more setlists, plus my favorite – attendance figures against venue capacities – it’s also stuffed full of rare photos from both onstage and off, including many non-make-up shots from the make-up days. But the real grist comes within the 270 pages of anecdotes about the enclosed shows, including much unflattering hi-jinx before the band hits the stage, after, and sometimes on. There are fights, lawsuits, business failures and successes. Hidden in the tiny print are details like who the band’s back-up acts were (all nicely listed on two page at the end as well), myriad band and crew quotes, all sorts of details about press the band did on that day, along with stories about a surprising number of equipment failures, crowd problems, pranks, and the occasional near death experience, usually involving either fire or an automobile. Long and short of it is, this could have been dry, but instead, it’s like closing down the bar, soused to the gills, listening to the proverbial fly on the wall.