I haven’t read a ton of band-related books, but lately I haven’t been able to put down KISS: Behind the Mask, the group’s 2003authorized biography. It’s not that the writing is otherwordly or dazzling. It’s just really, really raw—an oral history that doesn’t hide shitty music or pretend KISS was something it wasn’t.
I particularly love the album reviews done by the band members themselves. When the releases were great—Alive, Destroyer, Revenge—Gene and Paul and Ace and Peter give themselves four or five stars. But when the work sucked, they’re ruthlessly self-critical. Of The Elder, KISS’ wretched “concept” album, Gene Simmons says: “As a KISS record I’d give it a zero. As a bad Genesis record I’d give it a two.”
Of Unmasked, Paul Stanley says, “It’s a pretty crappy album.”
The honesty is a rare and welcomed treat. A truly excellent history of an oft-excellent band.