If any band is deserving of a compendium compiling all of their music, personnel, events and related subjects, it's probably Kiss. Throughout a career stretching over 40 years, 21 studio albums and 10 band members, no other band has monetised what they do so brazenly or as successfully as Kiss.
At the start of their bombastic and over the top live shows you hear the announcement 'You wanted the best, you got the best' and now, thanks to Brett Weiss' encyclopaedia, we know that I you wanted a Kiss branded coffin, a Kiss branded condom, a Kiss branded pinball machine (or indeed a Playstation 1 Kiss pinball game) you could very well have those too.
To start with the positives, this book is truly, quite impressively exhaustive. As you might expect, every member of Kiss gets an entry, as does each of their albums. You get a two page Paul Stanley biography, about half a page on each album (although the entry for the Dynasty album contains a typo, tut tut) and this is fairly representative of each member and album.
The amount of research and care which has gone into this work is astonishing - it is clearly a passion project for the author. Thanks to Weiss' book, I now know that in South Park season 10, episode 8 (titled 'Make Love, Not Warcraft') the Paul Stanley solo song 'Live to Win' is played. I now also know about more zany Kiss merch which probably only exists to gather dust in Gene Simmons' loft or as recycled toilet paper by now, such as 'Kiss Checkers Set: The Rock and Roll Over Checkers Game!' and the 'Kiss Phono Record Player'. I also now know that in 1978 Kiss requested that a company make action figures of the band 'more muscular', making the slimmer, less butch models highly collectable. and I also know that Kiss have their very own coffee house. All amazing little nuggets of knowledge, I am sure you will agree.
It all begs the question though: what exactly is the point? If you want to find out about Kiss, why not google them? Coming in at around £30, this is not a cheap book by any stretch of the imagination so definitely one exclusively for the completist. On top of that, the cover features a fairly shoddy stock image which makes the whole affair look totally unofficial, and therefore perhaps lacks some credibility as the most extensive chronicle of the life and times of Kiss; the aforementioned occasional typos, though rare, also prove to undermine the work's credibility.
There are lots of books on the market about the hottest band in the land, and this may well be the most complete reference guide. If you want a fun read that puts you back into the band's 1970s heyday, when Kiss were a genuinely dangerous and outrageous rock band, before they turned into the capitalist, corporate juggernaut that they are today, you might be better served by one of the autobiographies that, as of last year, each of the original members have published.