Released: 2009, Collectors Guide Publishing Inc
“You can’t talk about American Metal without talking about Kiss” Sam Dunn, Producer, Metal Evolution. 2011. (Episode Two-Early Metal US)
“Anyone who says Kiss were never Metal doesn´t know what they´re talking about!” Quorthon (Bathory) in a June 1994 interview with Malcolm Dome.
Some people may question the validity of doing a feature on Kiss in the hallowed pages of Metal-Rules.com. Many critics of Kiss who suggest that they are ‘not metal’, tend to focus their arguments on non-musical traits. For example some people complain about Gene’s reality show and his various extra-curricular (ie. non-Kiss) activities. Some people complain about the line-up changes, some people complain about the nature and style of the tours, and many people complain about the commercial nature of the Kiss identity and brand. However, many of those critics, deep down when push comes to shove will admit, however grudgingly, based purely on the music, that Kiss is Metal. Therefore we are proud to present our Kiss feature at Metal-Rules.com. This month in reflection and in celebration of the October 9th release of MONSTER, the 20th studio album by Kiss, our specialty book section, The Library Of Loudness is reviewing seven books about Kiss and by members of Kiss, past and present. This month we review… (listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name)
Criss, Peter – Makeup To Breakup
Floren, Ingo – The Official Price Guide to Kiss Collectibles.
Harris, Larry – Casablanca: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records
Leaf, David & Sharp, Ken – Kiss: Behind The Mask
Simmons, Gene – Sex, Money, Kiss
Sherman, Dale – Black Diamond: The Unauthorized Biography of Kiss
Sherman, Dale – Kiss FAQ
As a bonus here are other books about Kiss we have previously reviewed. Feel free to enjoy the reviews of these Kiss related titles as well.
Frehley, Ace-No Regrets
Moore, Wendy-Into The Void
Prato, Greg-The Eric Carr Story
Simmons, Gene-Kiss And Make Up
The classic conundrum of an autobiography is this; the freedom from censorship (self-censorship or otherwise) from the subject matter vs. unfettered access to the primary source material. BLACK DIAMOND is subtitled ‘The Unauthorized Biography of Kiss’ and was first published in 1999. For the record I am reviewing the 10th Anniversary Edition, published in 2009 with alternate cover art and a number of updates. The publisher is the small but respected Collectors Guide Publishing, who worked on a number of projects with Martin Popoff. As a book, it’s pretty plain, black and white a few scattered photos, and the layout and design while readable is simplistic, giving it that home-made, or self-published look. Running 309 pages the book, concludes with a 24 page interview with Eric Carr conducted in 1990. There is no bibliography, no index, and the credits fro quotations are built into the text instead of being cited separately. In many technical terms it is not that well done and the writing is a bit sloppy. However, content is king and life-long Kiss maniac has plenty of great content.
The biography follows a chronological sequence and Sherman does his best to follow the many side-projects, including touching on rare Vinnie Vincent stuff, rare Eric Carr stuff, and rare Mark St. John stuff, which often gets left out of the Kiss story. In his introduction Sherman says that his main goal was to pull all the loose ends, the scraps into one place, which he essentially achieved. I was surprised how little discussion about music there was. After all Kiss is a band who write and record songs and tour and play those songs live. Many of the extra (non-musical) components get featured; comics, merchandise, lawsuits, tours, line-up changes, side-projects, DVD’S, the aborted Kiss web-site and so on take center stage. In that respect the book succeeds admirably in the authors stated goal. Despite a lack of interviews with members of the band, Sherman really brings the Kiss story to life, although this is not really a book that a new fan would want to start with. BLACK DIAMOND is written by a die-hard fan, for the die-hard fans. In retrospect, (and hind-sight is always 20-20) BLACK DIAMOND was a crude precursor to the far superior book KISS FAQ also written by Sherman and published in 2012. It’s almost like Black DIAMOND was the KISS FAQ demo!
Ultimately, I felt this was an unconventional and rather scattered telling of the Kiss story. However the strengths of BLACK DIAMOND lie in the research and detail and odd bits and pieces of trivia that brought the whole story to life. It seemed a bit disconnected. Rather than a flow the chapters jumped around, from anecdote to anecdote, story after story, with many bits of weird and wacky information that are sure to delight any dedicated Kiss fan.