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Stanley, Paul
Face The Music (Book Review)
June 2014
Released: 2014, n/a
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: JP

The circle is complete. All four original members of Kiss have now written and published their autobiographies. Paul’s is the last and there are some advantages in being last in that you can have the last word, or maybe correct errors that have risen in the autobiographies of Gene, Ace and Peter. Better yet Paul could read those others members books and maybe have his memory triggered by the stories of the other guys.

Of the four Kiss autobiographies, I had hoped this one would be the best. As I suggested in review of Peter’s book, published here at back in November of 2012, I said that Gene’s book was the most-self-serving, Ace’s would have the most shock value and have the party stories, but also have the most holes due to his lifestyle and memory. Peter’s book came across as pretty negative and he was really only in the band for about seven years in the beginning and then for another seven years which only resulted in one album and some tours. So that left Paul’s book to tell the ‘true’ story of Kiss and I was not disappointed.

FACE THE MUSIC is very nice and has a dust jacket with his face in makeup and then underneath the hardcover itself is his face without makeup. It is a clever design idea and I wish all four of them had done that. The book is by far the longest running over 450 pages and has many colour photos on glossy plates in the middle and a few others in black and white scattered about book. The book follows his story starting with a fairly big revelation that Paul was born deaf and with a deformed ear. I knew he was deaf but not about his deformed ear, nor about his reconstructive surgeries and his charitable work helping kids with facial deformities. These challenges helped shape his childhood which was by his account, an unhappy one.

Paul’s book was very Kiss oriented. I know that sounds odd but Paul has been the one constant member from Day One. Sure Gene was an original member but as Paul reveals, which most of us already knew anyway, Paul kept the Kiss machine going for 40 years. While other members of the band fell by the wayside and Gene went off to do many other projects, (books, speaking tours, TV, comics, movies etc) Paul kept Kiss alive. Paul touched on almost all the Kiss albums and I was pleased that he didn’t ignore segments of the bands career. One thing he didn’t mention, which I found odd was that he never mentioned his second solo album from 2006, LIVE TO WIN. He did talk lots about his painting, his stint as the title character in The Phantom Of The Opera, his failed relationships, and eventually quite a bit of time about his new family.

I really enjoyed FACE THE MUSIC even though Paul seemed very hard on himself, surprisingly hard on Eric Carr and he really does not like Peter Criss. We all know that Paul and Gene fight like brothers but Paul’s underlying resentment to Criss are pretty strong. There are three sides to every story but I seem to side with Paul. Paul implies on many occasions that Peter is dumb but then again at one point Paul bought a $70,000.00 Tiffany lamp for his empty apartment. However, it was not all about cars and women. I was pleasantly surprised how generous the band was. There were many stories of Gene and Paul buying other people (family, friends, co-workers, business associates) guitars, cars, even houses, effectively shattering Gene’s self-created myth that he is a greedy guy. Overall, Paul comes off as critical not only of himself but others but as the book progresses and he finds love and happiness with his family, the tone evolves into a very positive and optimistic outlook.

Bonus commentary section by Celtic Bob

Paul’s book was the second Kiss book I have read, the first being Ace’s. As a fan of the band since the early-mid 80’s this may come as a bit of a shock but many things Kiss related are. When I heard that Paul was working on a book I became quite interested as he always came across as the most sensible and honest of the band. As soon as my copy arrived I quickly finished the book I was reading and tore into this one. Early on it became evident that my thoughts on Paul rang true, he was honest and brutally so in some cases. He was open about his childhood and a deformity that if anything made him stronger. His side of the classic Kiss years are more realistic than what I have previously read. Paul even criticizes his partner of 40 years for not being there for the band and how he kept it alive for several years. Nobody in the band is put on a pedestal, not even himself. They all had faults and some were quite surprising. It was interesting to read all of the different stories on Kiss from an inside point of view. Every page is well written and interesting. An easy read with a wealth of info. This is one of the best Autobiographies I have ever read. A must read for all music fans.
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