Kiss – “Odyssey – The Definitive Examination of Music From the Elder” by Tim McPhate & Julian Gill – Book Review

For some strange reason, I am on a kick reading all about the band Kiss. I don’t know what it is, but maybe it has to do with the Kiss Review Series that I am currently in the middle of doing. The book I decided to read next was a book about the album ‘Music From the Elder’ and sadly, the timing didn’t work out for me to review this book at the same time as the album as that would’ve been great. But better late than never.

The book I read was “Odyssey – The Definitive Examination of Music From the Elder” by Tim McPhate and Julian Gill. And let me tell you , it is definitive. It is over 500 pages of every little detail, little nugget and little story about the album. You would think that one of the bands worst album (arguably) would not warrant a book, but you’d be wrong It does warrant a book for that very reason. We want to know what was going through their minds with this album? Where did the concept come from, what made them go down that road (or who)? All those questions and more were answered.

The authors of this book interview everyone under the sun that was in some way, shape or form associated with this album from engineers, to management, to gophers, to album art designers, to set directors, to actors, to even bits of interviews of the producer himself, Bob Ezrin. I mean there are interviews ad nauseam. And I mean ad nauseam. There were over 30 interviews done for the book. A great portion of this book are just interviews and it reads in that format. Questions become very repetitive because the burning question on everyone’s mind seems to be what happened to the recordings of the dialogue with the actors to help tell the story? The only dialogue on the album was around the last song, but apparently there was a lot more recorded, never released and no one knows where those recordings are or who has them. And after reading this, I don’t give a rat’s ass where it is. I hope I never hear that question again. No one knows the answer!!!

This whole interview process was my biggest complaint for this book. Too many interviews, too many repetitive questions and too many repetitive questions. See that, I am repeating myself now as a result of too many repetitive questions. I would have preferred the writers to take these interviews and actually tell a story chronologically of the whole process using these interviews as the facts for the stories and quoting the person being interviewed. It would have made this a much more enjoyable book rather than being so monotonous and became utterly boring at times.

It took me months to get through this book as the amount of minutiae was incredible. The only thing I don’t think we learned about was the toilet paper they used to wipe their ass when they went to the bathroom and thank God for that (It’s Charmin by the way – kidding). We learn where they recorded the album, all 9 studios. We learn how the door on the cover was made and the table on the gatefold. We learn that Ace stayed at his home studio mostly and rarely, if ever, joined the band other than when they recorded at his house. We learn who the actors were that read the dialogue. One was Chris Makepeace, the star from the 1980 movie ‘My Bodyguard’ which I loved. We learn that Bob Ezrin was fucked up most of the time and rarely showed up for recording. We learn Bob was ultimately responsible for the concept all though Gene was about equally involved. We learn the label changed the order of the songs on the original release which messed everything up. We learn the band really hates the album now and we learn more than we ever really wanted to know.

Was the book all bad, of course not. There really is some interesting nuggets buried in the pages of a million interviews, it takes forever to find them and enjoy them. Whenever the book broke in to commentary and became less like interviews is when I enjoyed it more. I do think one of the more interesting pieces was around the end when they interview the guy that bought the one and only script for the Elder Movie and he talked about what the movie would’ve been like if it was actually ever made. He has a one-of-a-kind collector’s item in that script and his stories were great on the movie concept.

I did like reading about the different album releases and track listings and lot about the collector’s items for The Elder. It was interesting to read more about the background of the characters in The Elder and I must say I enjoyed Robert V. Conte’s stories on what is in The Elder vault and all the conversations on the remastering projects he has been on for the band. That is some cool stuff and let me tell you Kiss fans, there is a ton of stuff in the archives, we haven’t even heard yet.

Okay, I think I have rambled on too long. This book is for the diehard fan. If you want to know every little detail about the album, and read about it more than once, then this book is for you. If you are hoping for more of a story and biography type book, then steer clear of this as it will drive you insane, and to note, that is a short drive for me. I can only muster a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars for this as it was too much. It gets 2.0 stars as I did learn a few things and there were some great behind the scenes stories, but they were just buried in all the muck. Buyer beware on this one.

29 thoughts on “Kiss – “Odyssey – The Definitive Examination of Music From the Elder” by Tim McPhate & Julian Gill – Book Review

  1. Chris Makepeace at that time was in the movie ‘Meatballs’ with Bill Murray and I never heard from him again.
    500 pages is a huge read for sure but in a way a smart move to focus on an album that had tanked KISS by that time.
    Thanks for the review John. Would your score have gone up if the page count had gone down?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I forgot about that. He didn’t last long, but I liked the movies he did. And the answer to your question, no. Shorter wouldn’t have helped. More of a narrative, story format would have made me enjoy it a lot more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kudos to you for surviving the whole thing. I have a 100-page rule. If a book hasn’t got me hooked by 100 pages, I don’t finish it. Life’s too short to try to finish uninteresting things. Just like drawn out Monopoly games, no thanks.

    I’ve never heard the album, so I’m glad you at least learned a few things you didn’t already know!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Minutia” and “Julian Gill” are synonyms! Yes it can be a slog to finish one of his books (I never did finish the one on the solo albums) but you sure feel like you know everything by the end of it. Except where the damned extra dialogue recordings are! They were wise to only use the one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You know this sounds really interesting. I just wish it would be a little shorter. I mostly listen to audio books now to help me through 2 hours of commuting every day…that would make it a little better.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hate those interviews when they ask the artists the same dang questions over and over again, or the interviewers are total jerks. That’s why whenever I look up interviews on youtube, I read through the comments to make sure the interview is worth giving up 10 or more minutes of my time.

    Liked by 2 people

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