Released: 2016, McFarland
Surprisingly, this is the first Encyclopedia about Kiss! The author in the intro said that he noticed that aside from an obscure, long out or print, Japanese-only book in the 70’s, there has never been a true Kiss Encyclopedia. As a life-long soldier in the Kiss Army, Weiss was more than up to the task to write this unique, interesting and long overdue book!
ENCYCLOPEDIA does have bit of a budget look. Oddly enough there is no picture of Kiss on the front just a generic design, that doesn’t do the book justice. EOK is a slightly over-sized paperback, with small-ish font and a few dozen black and white photos of memorabilia. It’s not poor by any means but lacks flash. There is a nice introduction and a helpful index as well.
In terms of pure content, ENCYLOPEDIA OF KISS is world-class. Weiss has done his research very, very well. I was very impressed by the depth of knowledge and how he synthesizes lots of info into manageable, chunks. I like how there was a song-by-song analysis and his documentation of the various Kiss tribute albums from around the globe was very impressive. There is a good focus on key merchandise (the pinball games, puzzles, key chains etc) the books, the comics, and the TV specials and home video releases with a helpful synopsis and track-listing of those. All areas are covered with enthusiasm and energy. One minor issue I might have is that, in theory, an encyclopedia is supposed to be strictly neutral and factual. Weiss does interject a considerable amount of personal commentary, but that didn’t really disturb me for two reasons. One, I seem to agree with most of his opinions about various albums and songs, but secondly the personal comments made it more readable, then straight-up dry facts.
On a more personal note, I did find it a little hard to read this book. Have you ever tried to sit and read an encyclopedia? It doesn’t flow well. Encyclopedias are meant for research and documentation, not straight reading cover to cover. Coupled with the fact that I have read many, many books on Kiss over the years and reviewed 19 of them for this very site…well, at times I found it dull. Not because it was not well done and well-researched, far from it, it is top-notch, but as a die-hard Kiss guy there was very little I didn’t already know, so I felt like I was struggling at times to re-read for the 700th time, about Ace Frehley’s mismatched sneakers that he wore for his first audition. In addition, it was nice of Weiss to reference Metal-Rules.com in his book a few times.
That aside, ENCYCLIOPEDIA OF KISS is a superb tome, jammed packed with facts, trivia and bits of cool info that many people may not know or forgotten. This book covers it all, a great introduction for the novice and mandatory addition to the library of any Kiss Konnoisseur.