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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 3 1/2 to 4 stars
What makes this book a must-get for Kiss fans is the first section. During this segment, a never-before-released text from 1979 reveals an incredible amount of commaraderie and friendship among the members of Kiss, even during their most difficult era. It actually illustrates the sweeter side of the band and how much they genuinely cared for one another as individuals...
Published on October 14, 2003 by C. Davis

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre but fair reading...
I grew up loving KISS just like most kids my age did. I'm 43 years old, my kids are almost grown, ya dig me? I've been fortunate enough to share my memories with my kids of this band and when my oldest was 8, I took him to the "Reunion Tour." I loved watching him during that show as it reminded me of "me" when I saw my first KISS show, oddly enough...at 8 years old. Well,...
Published on February 23, 2012 by Danny C. Mullins


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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, 3 1/2 to 4 stars, October 14, 2003
By 
C. Davis (Shreveport, Louisiana United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What makes this book a must-get for Kiss fans is the first section. During this segment, a never-before-released text from 1979 reveals an incredible amount of commaraderie and friendship among the members of Kiss, even during their most difficult era. It actually illustrates the sweeter side of the band and how much they genuinely cared for one another as individuals. It was also refreshing to be able to read quotes from Gene Simmons that were not practiced hype intended to promote the Cult of Simmons to the market. This first segment was written before Gene became GENE SIMMONS INC. and is a poignant snapshot of what the man - hopefully - is really like. But also, the vulnerability of a young Paul Stanley, the wit, charm and intelligence of a young Ace Frehley and the sentimentality of a young Peter Criss shine in the opening of the book.
To their credit, the band,in authorizing this bio, have allowed the inclusion of a number of credible sources from outside the realm of the band's influence that add an authenticity to the book. The quotes and stories from Bill Aucoin, Sean Delaney, Joyce Bogart, Bob Kulick and others dispute many myths surrounding the band and help clarify many hazy aspects of the band's history. It is clear that Kiss is not the House That Simmons Built. Rather, it was - and has always been - a group effort, culling from the talents of dozens of people at a time.
The second section has the band members and various insiders quoting on thoughts about almost every Kiss song and album recorded. I say almost because many details about Peter Criss' and Ace Frehley's 1978 solo albums were excluded - from the onset, a minor flaw, but one that becomes a tragic omission when bearing in mind that every song from "Hot in the Shade" is covered. A better biography would have paid particular attention to those two solo albums, since their releases were the catalysts to the band's eventual split. Ace Frehley's was the most successful of the four - clarifying the idea that he did not need Kiss - while Peter Criss', possibly the most melodic and creative - was the least successful - clarifying that Kiss was keeping him from a wider audience. But all of this is ingnored while the drummer from Gene's solo album is allowed to wax philisophic about the sessions in England.
Among other things this book shows the brilliance of Bill Aucoin. Indeed, until Doc McGhee took over as manager, Kiss floundered after Aucoin's dismissal. So paying homage to Aucoin earns this book one star. Giving Peter Criss and Ace Frehley a fair amount of the spotlight earns it two stars. Dispelling the many concocted myths created by the Simmons Propoganda Machine earn it one and a half more.
While Kiss is gradually become more and more of a band comfortable release newer compilation albums, this book may be arriving at just the right time. With Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley both working on solo albums and Kiss reduced to nothing more than a touring act (we can hardly call them a band anymore, with anyone able to be replaced - it's more like the best circus you've ever seen. And why not?), we may have seen the last of any new material from the band. If that's the case, and even if it isn't, this is a book that's worth it's price and then some.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A treasure for KISS fans., April 2, 2004
By 
M J Heilbron Jr. "Dr. Mo" (Long Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
The key factor of the success of this book is that the first half was written in 1979. KISS was the biggest band on the planet, had peaked in their popularity, and was just about to start a tremendous career slump. The manuscript lay dormant fro a few decades until renewed interest sparked it's release.
The second half of the book consists of edited comments from band members, producers and sundry musicians, regarding all of their albums, songs and career choices. This half is fairly dry and clinical, but for those of you unfamiliar with their later phases, indispensible.
Let me return to the first portion of the book. What struck me was the singlemindedness displayed by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from day ONE.
These guys had a plan and despite all odds, took themselves to the top. They were driven. I found their biographies to be fascinating...how they got be who they are.
I was the perfect age to be a KISS fan in the seventies. I loved comics. I was in junior high. My father took me to the L.A. concert that was recorded for "Alive II"
I still have the "I Was There" button.
I am the person this book was written for.
Having said that, I loved following the development of their "act".
Wanting only to "rock". Wanting only to entertain. Wanting to do something that no one had ever seen. I was impressed by their dedication to the concept of KISS.
I was also impressed by their candid comments. When they screw up, they're the first to speak up. When they got a bit too full of themselves, they tell you exactly when that happened.
The tensions between the two "factions" within the group, Paul/Gene vs. Ace/Peter is well described, and all of them are brutally about the faults of their bandmates as well as themselves.
Business ruthlessness or substance abuse, everybody's vice is on display here. Not in any tabloid sensationalistic fashion, but as clear sober history.
The album-by-album, track-by-track notes section is awesome for fans like myself. I joined the "KISS Army" between the "Alive" albums. "Destroyer", "Rock and Roll Over" and "Love Gun" were albums I knew inside and out. Played them 'til they were grooveless. I've developed a new appreciation for that era of their music. There's stuff here I didn't know or hadn't considered.
I enjoyed this book far more that I anticipated, and I anticipated that I was gonna like it a lot.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For All the Spacebears and Curly fans out there!! BUY IT!!!, November 27, 2003
By 
Spacebeard07 "Pete" (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
Where do I even begin to start in my review of this book? This is my first venture into reviewing books so bare with me.
Kiss - Behind The Mask is simply the be all, end all of books out on the market talking about the real history of the band. This isn't KISSTORY where Paul And Gene are the ones basically telling you their side of the story. This book has some of the best quotes ever seen in a KISS book. Put it this way, the small entry in part 2 of the book about Bob Kulicks recording experience with Paul and Gene on KILLERS had me laughing and clamoring for more info.
The book is broken into two parts. The first part, an unreleased piece done by David Leaf circa 1979. It's not explained as to why this wasn't released in 1980 but after reading it I can tell why this wasn't released to the public back then. This would've damaged KISS at a time where they were basically marketing themselves to a younger audience. The Quotes about the band by great bands such as THE WHO, THE RAMONES, THE REPLACEMENTS and OZZY were very cool additions to a book that was a classic upon page 1 being read. Someone mentioned Gene Simmons's quotes not being contrived and planned out diatribes and this is very true indeed. Peter Criss is let loose in this portion of the book as well as Ace. The background stories of the original 4 band members from this perspective is the best pre-KISSTORY document I've ever read. It's more interesting coming from the original band members themselves rather than from some ghost author attempting to tell their stories. It's nice to see Gene Simmons And Paul Stanley shown in a completely different light than what we're used to seeing lately. Thankfully, Ken Sharp convinced David Leaf to unearth this Gem because KISS fans finally get what they've wanted for a long time. A truthful document on the story of the band without Gene Simmons and Paul Stanleys mitts all over it (ie: KISSTORY, Gene Simmons 2 books)
The second part of the book is where you think to yourself, "As if it wasn't enough reading the first part of the book, now I get THIS!!?". This is because you get an incomplete but 95% complete history of KISS's studio/Live and Complilation albums (with the exception of KISS MY ASS, GREATEST KISS and ALIVE 4). Only on a few of the albums are songs left out. Most likely due to the lack of information about albums such as Peter Criss's solo album and Ace's Solo album as well. I doubt this was intentional at all but this is a moot point. In this section of the book you get quotes from Producers, band members, Session musicians, management, you name it, they're in this book. This was hands down my favorite part of the book because there is so much info thrown out there for the first time. stuff that Gene and Paul would rather have kept behind closed doors, studio doors that is. This was great and disappointing at times. Disappointing only in that once you read certain things about certain albums you felt betrayed in a way. KISS fans have always known that since Dressed To Kill the members of KISS wouldn't always play on the records but what Part two of this book reveals is simply amazing at times. You'll lose count as to who played on what for who and where it was done. This extensive coverage is as amazing as it gets. Ken Sharp should be given awards for this piece that he offered to the book. I can only imagine the amount of work that went into the writing of this book.
No Matter what the price is on this book here on Amazon, this is a MUST BUY for all fans but especially DIE HARD Kiss fans like myself. This will make you see the band differently than you've ever seen them before and alot of times make you laugh out loud. This is a brilliant and well written book that's destined to become the Must own book about the band. I don't know who's going to top this but his name starts with BILL and ends with AUCOIN. That's not likely to happen anytime soon so this will serve as the BOOK to own about KISS.
My top 3 Favorite Books about KISS:
1. KISS - BEHIND THE MASK
2. KISS - ALIVE FOREVER - The Complete Touring History
3. KISS N SELL by C.K. Lendt
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story behind the band, January 3, 2004
This is a very detailed book. It's so detailed, in fact, that I was exhausted after reading it. The first section makes it clear that the two masterminds behind the band, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, wanted to be pop stars, not respected musicians. That's great, of course, especially when they make it clear that their gimmicks are just a little more honest than other rock stars.
Stanley and Simmons, two Jewish New Yorkers who grew up on television and British bands, joined together to form Wicked Lester. They got a record contract and recorded an album, but the deal fell through. Then they met Ace and Peter, two guys with a little more interest in music (and getting really loaded). They changed their name to Kiss and started experimenting with makeup. The decision to disguise themselves and create four alter egos was a stroke of genius. Even if you never buy a Kiss album, you know Kiss and you'll never forget them.
But they needed songs to go with the image --- products to sell and music to play in concert. When you get into the third section, an album-by-album (and, at times, track-by-track) review of the entire output of the band, you see how Ace and Peter complimented (and frustrated) the two masterminds. This section is a long list of co-writers for the songs, album producers, and new band members who replaced Ace and Peter. By the end of the book, your head is spinning with names. Gene and Paul are at the center of it all, trying to keep their entertainment empire going.
Even if you have no interest in Kiss, you'll learn a lot from this book. It's as much about the music business as it is about the band. Even for those who don't care for Kiss' music, the phenomenon is worth reading about. You'll learn about overdubbing live albums, following trends to stay on the charts, and paying radio to play your songs and turn them into 'hits.' If you like Kiss, you have to read this book. There's so much information here, you'll have trouble putting it down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST KISS BOOK EVER!, October 9, 2003
By 
"madamejess" (Burbank, CA United States) - See all my reviews
"Kiss: Behind The Mask" stands as the best book ever written about Kiss. The 431-page book has it all, amazing information, extensive interviews with the Kiss, and members of their inner circle. It's packed with many rare photos that I've never seen before, both in color and black & white. These include shots of Ace from 1968, alternate pictures of the "Alive!" album cover and the "Alive II" inner sleeve, the band without makeup from 1974 posing for Creem magazine, the infamous "Hotter Than Hell" party photo, Paul and Gene in the studio sans makeup from the late 70's and more. The comments from the band's peers is incredible too with The Who, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Ozzy, and many more talking about the band.
It's easy to pick my favorite part of the book. It has to be the spectacular album by album, song by song section. This could be a whole book on its own. Every Kiss album and Kiss song features quotes from the band, producers, engineers, songwriters, musical sidemen and more. Yes, that includes "the Elder"...The sections on Wicked Lester, and the "Destroyer" album are real standouts, so much new info is revealed for the very first time. Kiss has let me down a lot in the past but not with this book. "Kiss: Behind The Mask" is the ultimate book for the Kiss Army, and an indispensable resource for fans of the group. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for KISS fans, and who cares what anyone else thinks?, February 1, 2007
By 
Mike (San Jose, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
You might have mixed feelings about the format of the book. On one hand, it makes it very easy to skip to a specific album, period or band member if that's how you want to get your information. Because it's broken up that way, it doesn't flow like a traditional biography. Every member of the band, as well as managers, producers, and celebrity fans each step up to offer a comment on specific topics. It will come as no surprise that the show is run by Gene and Paul, but Ace and Peter...no matter how many petty squabbles and stories of substance abuse are laid bare...contributed mightily to the zillions of bucks sitting in Gene and Paul's bank accounts. No disrespect intended to Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, the late Eric Carr or Eric Singer, BUT...the heart and rock 'n' roll soul of KISS will always be Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter. Tommy Thayer has the right to wear Ace Frehley's Space Ace makeup onstage because Gene and Paul own the rights to it, but he'll never be more than Tommy Thayer wearing Ace's makeup. Maybe Thayer helped Ace re-learn HIS OWN LICKS in preparation for the "Psycho Circus" reunion tour (don't do drugs, kids), but who cares? The band members rightfully acknowledge "Alive!" and "Destroyer" and the two albums to own, and it's nice to hear Paul Stanley fess up to the fact that the last Kulick album, the grunge-wannabe "Carnival Of Souls," was "second-rate Soundgarden, Metallica, and Alice In Chains." Gene, on the other hand, apologizes to no one, because when you're adding up the numbers on your bank statement, it's easy to get distracted if you're apologizing. Once you make it through this entire book you will find yourself having a "Spinal Tap" moment...while KISS has had its ups and downs, no one can deny the band's enduring popularity. The fact that their maturity level never rose above the maturity level of stunted adolescence (at best) while they became multi-multi-millionaires just makes Rob Reiner's "mockumentary" all that more dead-on, between-the-eyes accurate. Favorite quote? Raspberries singer Eric Carmen witnessing Gene swallowing a paper cup of Scope mouthwash mixed with Kerosene prior to fire-breathing onstage and whining to his manager "If this is what I have to do to make it in rock and roll, I quit!" KISS didn't quit, and you wanted the best, and you GOT the best...KISS.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre but fair reading..., February 23, 2012
By 
Danny C. Mullins (Lawton, Oklahoma United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: KISS: Behind the Mask - The Official Authorized Biography (Paperback)
I grew up loving KISS just like most kids my age did. I'm 43 years old, my kids are almost grown, ya dig me? I've been fortunate enough to share my memories with my kids of this band and when my oldest was 8, I took him to the "Reunion Tour." I loved watching him during that show as it reminded me of "me" when I saw my first KISS show, oddly enough...at 8 years old. Well, I saw KISS UNMASKED here on Amazon and got it cheap enough-no complaints. However, maybe I bought it because of the above said comments-nostalgia. It's a fair read, a few interesting odds and ends, nothing revolutionary and NOT A MUST HAVE. If you were a fanatic like I was, you already know 80% of whats in this book. You'll find that the author(or one of, the other David Leaf)has a history with this band as in you'll never get the "skinny" on these guys, just only enough without making them look bad(wink), you hearing me? I get the feeling this is "an arrangement." You tell me KISS fans.....I will say, the price was fair enough, I bought it "Like-new" just in case(glad I did)and it was decent reading with a few neat shots and a nice perspectives from the bandmembers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only read one KISS book, this should be it!, January 29, 2012
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This review is from: KISS: Behind the Mask - The Official Authorized Biography (Paperback)
As several reviews here have noted, the first section of "Behind the Mask", titled "The Rise to the Top", is a long-lost manuscript from 1979 that was originally intended for release in early 1980 as the first official KISS biography. When you read it, it's clear why it was never published: It was written during the Dynasty tour and paints an incredibly rosy picture of life in KISS that we all know to be less than the whole truth, and at the time it was ready for release - Peter Criss was already out of the band. The manuscript became outdated in a matter of months. Events overtook it.

It's also possible that Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and their several managers thought that there was too much in this story that didn't jibe with the then recent Super KISS Image. Stories of guns and rumbles and car crashes, courtesy of Peter Criss and Ace Frehley of course, would not have been what Super KISS wanted to convey to the masses of ever younger fans that flocked to their concerts in the wake of the 1978 film and solo album stunt.

But this is exactly what makes this part of the book a must-read: In contrast to the rosy "we all love and respect each other so much" hype, this particular feature of the story is an honest snap-shot of KISS in 1979, looking back on their personal origins and their first six years together in an incredible rise to the top of the world. This is KISS standing on a precipice, and in the subsequent couple of years their Empire would disintegrate in a cloud of drugs, alcohol, money and ego, as well as personal and artistic delusions. All the signs are clear to see in the first section of this book.

Section 2, "Speaking in Tongues", is the least interesting part of the book, as it covers the 1980s and early 1990s in a very broad stroke to get as quickly as possible to the 1996 reunion. Fair enough, the book had to pick a focus and couldn't have covered everything in detail.

Section 3 is the real gem, in my opinion. Titled "Shout It Out Loud", this is a muscular 220-page section that discusses every single KISS album song by song, from the making of the Wicked Lester album in 1971, through the beginnings of KISS and every song ever put on record up until 1998. (A new edition must surely arrive at some point...)

And the great thing here is the fact the the albums and songs are not discussed by the authors - we're talked through it all by every member of KISS past and present, and just about every other person involved in the making of KISS records. From Eddie Kramer, Bob Ezrin, Vini Poncia and Michael James Jackson, to Sean Delaney and Bill Aucoin, to engineers Corky Stasiak and Jay Messina... Anyone you could think of has been interviewed and put on record. And Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter are even challenged into giving each album their own personal star rating, which makes for interesting cases of comparing the members' views of their catalogue.

In one word: Powerhouse! A light Section 2 is bookended by the incredibly strong Sections 1 and 3. This is the real story, so much more honest and comprehensive in scope than the Gene and Paul fables of "KISStory". A must-read and must-have for anyone interested in KISS' music and history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A KISS fan's MUST READ!, January 13, 2011
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I bought this book for my son for Christmas & he'll be the one reviewing it:

"This book is VERY GOOD! I LOVED it! I got it for KISSmas, and it was hard to put down. I just finished it yesterday, and there are ALOT of things even I didn't know about KISS. They did rip Ace and Peter off on the coverage of their solo albums, but maybe Gene and Paul were a little jealous that Ace's solo album was the best of all four. This book went in detail about how they all met, previous bands, the struggles they went through to make it, how poor they were, how different they were to each other, etc. It went into detail about EVERY album and EVERY song, from the self-titled first album(KISS) to Psycho Circus. I read Gene's autobiography, plus KISS and Make-Up several years ago, and they're great books also. Any KISS fan will LOVE this book(Behind the Mask). I recommend this book to KISS fans of ALL ages(Well maybe not children, or anyone who is offended by curse words &/or drug and alcohol references). KISS: Behind the Mask is one of the top 5 books I have ever read!"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book, one of the best in depth looks at a group., May 5, 2010
I have read a lot of books based on bands over the the years. This is up there with the best of them. I really enjoyed the first section, but to me it was the 2nd and 3rd that set it apart. All of the accounts from the band members and managers and people who were involved made for a great read. It was more about the music than the exploits. Any band can write about their crazy stories. This book focused on the reason we all love kiss, the music. To hear about each album and song from those who were involved was awesome. Especially the stuff up through the end of the 70's. All the classic tracks and albums revealed in detail, I wish more bands would do this sort of thing. But that is me personally. If you want to read about throwing t.v.'s out of windows and sexual exploits you should probably pass this up and look else where. But if you want to hear the story behind the group and how they came to be and the songs that shaped their career buy this right now!
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KISS: Behind the Mask - The Official Authorized Biography
KISS: Behind the Mask - The Official Authorized Biography by David Leaf (Paperback - June 2, 2005)
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