Welcome to a two-fer Book Review of ‘Take it Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato. Not only am I doing a review but my friend Deke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock is doing one as well. So click on his name and go read his when you are done with this one. I am sure his will be better!!
A little backstory on Kiss during the Unmasked years. I was a teenager during most of this time and I discovered Kiss for myself in these years. I say that because I was introduced to Kiss in the 70’s as I had one brother in particular that was huge in to the band. He had posters and magazine pictures plastered all over his bedroom all…and I mean ALL over it. I listened to all the 70’s albums, but I was seeing it through his eyes. In 1982 with Creatures of the Night, I was now buying Kiss and loving Kiss on my own.
After the Lick It Up album came out, I finally got to see them live and I saw them live 3 times during the Unmasked years. I bought every album during this period and have them today in some form or fashion. So, needless to say, I am a huge fan of the Unmasked years so when I heard about this fantastic book by Greg Prato, I had to have a copy. And I got one as a Christmas gift. So, no more waiting, let’s review the book.
Greg’s book covers the entire era of Kiss without makeup. All the way from 1983’s ‘Lick It Up until 1997’s album ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’. And if you didn’t know, that is 12 albums mixed with Studio albums, live albums and compilation albums as well as one tribute album. And here they are…
And here is my interpretation of that same list…
Ok, I am missing two on vinyl, the re-issue of ‘Creatures of the Night’ with the Bruce on the cover (I have the original issue) and I am missing the 1994 tribute album called ‘Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved’. One day I will get them and re-do this picture.
The book is broken up into 12 chapters…one for each album. Each chapter opens with commentary from Greg on the album and then it is filled with interviews and stories form people who have worked with Kiss, big fans of Kiss or were Kiss…I mean you Bruce Kulick!! The chapters also tell stories or give info on each Tour that was associated with an album. If there is not a Tour for that album, they tackle other topics such as Gene’s movie career, major interviews during the time, and the coolest part, Bruce talks about all his guitars he used during that period. That alone is worth the price of admission. The whole book is fantastic and a very enjoyable and entertaining read.
Who are some of the guests in the book. Well, Bruce Kulick is the biggest get, but you also get the following:
- Eddie Trunk
- Keith Roth
- Curt Gooch (author)
- MitchWeissman (co-writer of songs on Animalize)
- Richard Christy
- Katherine Turman
- Steve Farris (solo on Creatures of the Night, guitarist of Mr. Mister)
- Wednesday 13 (Murderdolls)
- Ron Keel (Keel)
- Jean Beauvoir (co-wrote several songs with Paul, part of Plasmatics)
- Brent Fitz (Drummer)
- K. K. Downing (Judas Priest)
- Ron Nevsion (producer of Crazy Nights)
- Charlie Benante (Anthrax)
- Mitch Lafon
- Richie Ranno (Kiss Konventions)
- Lonn Friend
- Paul Rachman (Director of several Revenge Music Videos)
- Derek Sherinian (keyboardist during Revenge and on Alive III)
- Michael Angelo Batio
- Bill Gould
- ACE FREHLEY!!!! (yeah, original Kiss guitarist…duh)
- Julian Gill
- Martin Popoff (author)
- Toby Wright (co-producer of Carnival of Souls)
I would say that is a pretty impressive list. And the stories are great. There are some great behind the curtain stories, personal stories and great insight as to what was going on in the music business at the time. You get to read about how the band treated the opening acts, how it was to work with the band in recording albums, that Gene is really a sweetheart and how the band influenced some major musicians.
I’m not going to go in to stories as there are way too many, I want you enjoy it with an open mind when you get it. I don’t want to spoil anything. With all these great interviews and from people in the know, you are getting some great insight in to Kiss and what was going on in and around the band. You will not be disappointed, so go grab a copy and if you are even remotely interested in the non make-up years, this, my friend, is worth grabbing.
When I was reviewing the Kiss Box Set back at the end of last year, I got so excited about the disc on that set that was all unmasked era, I did my own Top 20 Kiss Songs of the Non-Makeup Era, click on it and check it out. I feel it fits with this review quite nicely, especially since Eddie Trunk does the same thing at the very end of the book (my list is better!!! – ha!!)