The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 37: bonus book review
In the 1980s, there were generally no Kiss books on the market. If you found one, you bought it. The only widely known Kiss book back then was 1978’s paperback Kiss by Robert Duncan. I was lucky to find Kiss Still On Fire in Stratford Ontario on December 27, 1990 in a great little store called The Book Vault. Still On Fire is very very unofficial, but it was unequalled in its time: 130 magazine sized pages, mostly in full colour, loaded with pictures, facts and a few errors.
Peppered with old interviews and article snippets, Still On Fire takes a balanced look at the band and isn’t afraid to get critical when it’s warranted. It also attempts to take a crack at who played what on some of those tracks where it wasn’t quite clear. For example, Ace Frehley is pictured on the front cover of Killers, but didn’t play on any of the new songs. Still On Fire quotes a Paul Stanley interview. Was it Bob Kulick playing lead on these tracks? “Bob did come out, yes, but he didn’t play. When I couldn’t handle things — and I don’t consider myself the ultimate lead player — another friend of ours came in and gave us a little help.” The book states this friend was Robbin Crosby of Ratt, a claim that is not backed up in other sources. Did Crosby play on Killers? Who knows, but according to this book, he did. Other books such as Julian Gill’s Kiss Album Focus claim Bob Kulick did play some on Killers. In other words, if you read something interesting in this book that contradicts what you’ve read elsewhere, take it with a grain of salt.
There’s a bit of content here about what Gene was doing in the 1980s outside of Kiss: producing bands such as Black & Blue and EZO. Gene was responsible for EZO’s fantastic single “Flashback Heart Attack”, co-written by James Christian of Simmons Record act House of Lords. Gene was also working on movies but was having trouble finding the time. Apparently Sergio Leone really wanted Gene Simmons for Once Upon a Time in America in the role of Max, ultimately played by James Woods. Can you imagine?
Besides the ample photos, the most impressive feature of Still On Fire is the discography. Though incomplete, Still On Fire attempts to document myriad Kiss bootleg recordings, including cover art. There are also interesting promo and foreign releases, such as the Special Kiss Tour Album and Kiss – The Singles. Side projects and solo albums are included, from major (Frehley’s Comet) to obscure (Bruce Kulick’s band The Good Rats). A variety of singles, picture discs and videos are on display, fully illustrated. All of this was completely new to me then. Not to mention the titles of unreleased songs! What the heck were “Don’t Run” and “The Unknown Force”? (The Elder demos.) This is also where you’ll find the most typos and spelling errors. (I really want to hear this song called “Pick It Up”.)
Still On Fire isn’t definitive nor is it definitely 100% accurate, but it should still prove to be a valuable resource for your Kiss library.