I’ve been a KISS fan since Harry Sime (not his real name, that was Nick) asked if I wanted to tape KISS Alive II. We met on a Friday night and cycled out of town to his house. I had a brown Scotch cassette tape in my pocket and we made the recording on his fathers Sharp Hi-Fi. Back in those days this was just a turntable, tuner and single cassette deck, all horizontal, way before manufacturers decided that stacking these things was the way forward. I remember his father being none to keen on me using a cassette that had already been recorded on. But he relented. We looked at the album cover, at the fire and the blood and Harry told me the names of the band members. When the taping was done I cycled back home not realising quite how important that tape would be and how it would change my life forever. Well, maybe not my life but definitely the direction of my musical taste. KISS Alive II was the first record that I bought with my own money. Philip Evans and myself both went to Terry Blood’s record store in town and we both bought a copy one after the other. I stayed loyal and bought all the albums, then started buying a few of the singles. But the singles were nothing to write home about, just copies of songs that I already owned in plain covers. With the pocket money burning a hole in my jeans I bought Alice Coopers Greatest Hits and my musical taste spread out from there. But I always bought any new KISS album when it came out and went to see them on the Animalize tour when they played Manchester Apollo.
Back when I first started listening to KISS the chance of hearing them on the radio was remote, seeing them on television was remoter still. Until late one Saturday night there was a program showing American rock bands on BBC2 and KISS were included. To say that we, Mr. Evans and I, were excited is putting it mildly. I think at this point we might had been fans for a year or more and had never seen KISS move. We had only seen photos on albums covers and in magazines. They only showed about a minute or two of footage from an Alive II concert but that was enough. This was all back in the days before VCR’s and back when televisions were built in wooden cabinets. The memory can play tricks over time but I’m sure I remember Gene curling his tongue around the microphone. Then again I can’t even remember what song they played.
When I first heard about the Speaking In Tongues DVD I was undecided about buying it. I had started to buy some the KISS DVD’s but was still a little unsure as I think the cheapest I found was £18. So I put it at the top of my Amazon rental list and it stayed there for at least 8 months. Then I found it on Play.com and finally bought it for £7.99 which, for only an hour I suppose is still a little steep. But with the rental disc being nowhere in sight it was a no-brainer.
The footage covers a lecture tour that Gene did in Australia back in 2004. He has become something of a motivational speaker, just telling the audience of fans that what has worked for him, in his life, may also work for them. This is done with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. He isn’t forcing these ideas down your throat, he is just telling his philosophy on life and how to make the most of it. This is all inter-cut with pictures of Gene when he was younger, a tour of his house with his children, making of the Firestarter video and the A**hole launch party. So the Simmons wit and wisdom is, I guess, a little thin on the ground.
The way that the film is presented is pretty bad. It looks as if someone has used some no-budget Windoze editing software and hacked it all together. Some of the actual footage is of pour quality and to make matters worse each of the famous Simmons quotes are zoomed across the screen in large letters many times after they are said, just to ram the point home, as it were. Split screens also zoom around and it just becomes annoying after awhile.
Luckily Gene is entertaining throughout: funny, smart and business savvy beyond belief. The hundreds of scantily clad ladies also help to make the hour pass quickly.
Basically, if you are a huge KISS fan then you’ll own this already. If want to know more about what makes Gene tick then read KISS and Make-Up which will entertain and inform you more for less money. If you’ve just seen Gene in Rock School and think that this is going to be a similar product then you had best avoid this like a woman whose only ambition is marriage.
Money is not the root of all evil. LACK of money is the root of all evil!