You wanted the best, you got, well, about a thousand books.
KISS is one of rock’s all-time great bands, but the result of this is that they have had more book releases than just about any other band out there. These books tend to be of hit and miss quality; ranging from numerous unauthorized books of questionable nature to autobiographies from each classic band member with widely differing viewpoints. Finding the ideal KISS book is definitely far from easy, though there are certainly some highlights out there.
Nothin’ to Lose is interesting in that, unlike other career spanning biographies, it hones in one very specific era, namely the first few years of KISS coming together as a band, resulting in countless tour dates, and the recordings of their first three albums and first live album. In a relatively short few years, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss became rock superstars and larger than life icons. Nothin’ to Lose looks at this early period and the band’s struggles to catch a break.
When you read any of the other KISS books out there, many elements feel rushed and the success feels practically overnight. Tales of the band members’ respective childhoods tend to drag, and elements you wish were more elaborated on do not always get the proper respect. Nothin’ to Lose is different in this regard, and that is why it is the best book on KISS I have read to date.
The best thing about this book is that it does NOT come from a single, biased point of view. The result here is that we get quotations and stories from people who have been associated with the band over the years, including the band members themselves, fellow musicians, family members, club owners, band managers, producers, fans, and many others. Because of this, you get to experience the band from multiple perspectives, and hearing these assorted individuals giving their views and telling their tales makes this all the more interesting.
Nothin’ to Lose is a fantastic book with varied, assorted perspectives that are often brutally honest. Not everyone here loves the band or is kissing their asses (pardon the pun); there are some critical views from people on all ends of the spectrum as well. Even so, it is also interesting to hear favorable early views of the band, in an era when many critics and non-believers wrote them off as a joke and something that would not be around very long. Here we are, four decades later, with those naysayers likely feeling like fools now. A book from the points of view of multiple people, in many ways, feels fresher and more interesting than one written by a single member of the band with a single, biased perspective. That is a big part of the reason why this is a fantastic book covering one of rock’s biggest and best bands.
Another huge incentive to purchase the book is the rare photographs that are featured within, many of which have never been published elsewhere. This includes photos of the band members without their makeup, in a time when the public eye NEVER saw them without makeup. These pictures alone are reason enough to purchase the book.
If I do have one minor complaint, it is that the book should have stuck to people outside of the band members. We already heard these guys’ versions of the stories in their respective autobiographies, and even here you do tend to get the biased focal points in a few places. However, this is a very minor complaint; it still manages to satisfy more than most other books on the band I have read.
If you are a KISS fan, you absolutely owe it to yourself to read Nothin’ to Lose. From multiple points of view and with varying, honest opinions from all different sorts of people that were touched by the band in one way or another, this book is a triumph.
You wanted the best KISS book, you finally got the best KISS book. Absolute highest recommendations all around.