Kiss: The Second Coming

Kiss: The Second Coming (1998)
Image Entertainment
Extras: 3 Live Videos

DVD has been a blessing for Kiss fans so far. Apart from the recently released "Detroit Rock City" that features some stunning supplements directly catering to fans of the band, some time ago Polygram Home Video also released the band’s historical "MTV Unplugged" concert on DVD. Now, Image Entertainment fuels the fire with another high caliber release that will have Kiss fans across the world salivating. "The Second Coming" is the title of an over 2-hour long documentary that was produced by Kiss Manager Doc McGhee and covers the entire career of the band, mostly focussing on the resurrection of the band’s original line-up in 1995 and the consecutive world tour.

Apart from a vast number of live sound clips from concerts around the world, this documentary also contains a wealth of comments and interview snippets by the band members, as well as a plethora of behind the scenes footage, ranging from the band’s earliest days to their preparations for the "Psycho Circus" release.

Having been an avid fan of the band since 1976, I was especially intrigued by the documentary’s first 30 minutes, which recalls the band’s start, from their "Wicked Lester" days to their final break-through with the "Alive" album. Vintage footage, showing the band in rehearsal rooms and playing in small venues is a treat you won’t see anywhere else in such accumulated form – other than the pricey, official "Kisstory" biography. After a fast forward, quickly covering the band’s unmasked period, the viewers are the allowed to see how the magic started work its spells that ultimately lead to the band’s reunion. Although some of the footage in the segment covering the "MTV Unplugged" session and the infamous Grammy Awards appearance, is exactly the same as can be seen in the featurette on Polygram’s "MTV Unplugged" DVD, it is nonetheless highly intriguing and adds some additional information and comments to the events. The documentary then takes off full throttle. The band starts rehearsing for their upcoming world tour and viewers get an intimate look at how the band gradually bent itself back into its original shape, how they rehearsed and worked on their classic songs, and how they got involved in the whole production of their trademark stage show.

For any Kiss fan this release is a revelation. When I first became a fan of the band, I was intrigued by the music, and the mystique that surrounded Gene, Paul, Peter and Ace. No pictures without make-up where available anywhere and rumors sprang up ever so often as to how outrageous the band’s escapades and shows were. Most of it was made-up, but it gave the band an aura that separated it from any other group out there. Now, 25 years later we get to see a band that is very different, yet very similar to the original band I learned to love. Although the same mystique is still there as soon as the band takes the stage, they have been much more open in recent years to reveal their personalities. For fans, it was finally a chance to see behind the scenes and learn who those guys really are. In 1976 no one would have thought what a comedian Gene Simmons truly is, or what a high spirited nature surrounds Paul Stanley. No one would have imagined how energetic and charming Peter Criss is, or how laid back Ace Frehley appears off-stage.

In "The Second Coming" we get to see all this. We learn how the band lives the dream of being "Kiss", and for the the duration of this documentary we are allowed to really witness how it all comes together to create what has become the most illustrious band in the world. The backstage footage is what makes "The Second Coming" so very special and combined with the spectacular footage of the band’s bombastic live shows, this is a Kiss document every fan has been dying for.

Image Entertainment puts out a great looking release with this DVD. Presented in a <$PS,fullframe> presentation, the documentary contains a large number of materials from sources of varying quality. From deteriorated 70’s photos and video recordings to brand-new high-end tapings, the material runs the entire gamut. The DVD makes the best of it, preserving what quality there is, always presenting it in the best possible manner. No compression artifacts are evident in the transfer and if deficiencies are evident in the picture you can be assured it stems from the source.

Surprisingly the disc also contains a <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> soundtrack. Although for the most part it is simply a blown-up version of the Stereo track that is also part of the release. In certain instances we get to hear live recordings in their full surround beauty with cheering crowds and early reflections in the back and the band’s full blast rolling in from the front channels.

As special treats the disc also contains live recordings of "Shout It Out Loud" from the infamous Tiger Stadium show in 1996, a rare live recording of "Shandi" from a show in Australia and "Detroit Rock City" from the band’s show at the premiere of the "Detroit Rock City" movie.

This testimony of the rebirth of Kiss and the continued success of the band is a stunning release that I would endear to any fan of rock music. I am sure anyone can find appreciation in the openness and honesty the band shows in this film – and believe me there are also a series of ‘blooper’ moments caught on this disc. Ultimately it shows why this band is still around, why it has been a major influence on legions of musicians, and why this band has one of the most loyal fan bases around. Get this disc before someone else does and re-experience the breathtaking magic of Kiss! Now, if only someone could put out "Kiss: Exposed" and a DVD of the New Year’s Eve show in Vancouver last week…