Being a normally happy go lucky guy I want to warn you before you proceed into this review; I’m a bit jaded by this one and I don’t pull any punches. The actual tagline of this review is (with apologies to Mark Twain) “Tis better to be silent and thought an asshole than to write a book and remove all doubt.”
One thing I will give credit to Paul on the release of this book is it’s timing. Two days before the debacle that is KISS’ induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame was brilliant. With all of the bickering, biting, kicking and screaming that is going on with the original four members of the band what better time could there have been to tell his ide of the story in the form of the printed page. The page you can’t erase. The one that can be seen as the definitive answer to all the other books written. Well played Paul. Well played.
I got sucked in for those reasons. In regards to the whole mess and to keep myself focused on this review let me point you to HERE where you can read my thoughts on the affair from the view point of a disappointed KISS fan. It’s kind of a rant and a bummer so know that going in. Yeah, happy go lucky Jim got a little pissed off by all that. Just like Paul’s book.
Like most KISS fans and the rest of the public, I read all the interviews and comments that had been made over the past six months: “Ace and Peter are washed up hacks.” “Paul and Gene are greedy jerks”. “Ace and Peter are anti-Semites.” “I won’t be disrespected by having those imposters there.” Etc, etc, etc… Nothing new really but at the same time it was so intriguing to think that these four icons of rock had disintegrated to this level on the public stage. I had read Ace’s book “No Regrets” and applauded him for his apparent openness. I haven’t read Peter’s mainly because of the reviews I had heard and didn’t care for all the bashing and backbiting that it allegedly contained. As for Gene’s I saw no need to read his books considering he has made so many comments over and over and over again I’m pretty sure I can figure out what is in it without needing to risk a paper cut or dropping $20 on a hardback.
Paul on the other hand was different. He had been the secretive one. So intriguing. Plus with everything that had happened over the past few weeks alone I simply had to hear his side of the story. And hear it I did by way of the unabridged audio book via Audible. So 12 hours an d16 minutes later, here’s my take:
What follows below is my opinion and observations as a fan. Nothing more, nothing less. Take from it what you will post a comment or ask me a question. Be disrespectful or rude and I’ll simply call you “Paul” and hope you get the opportunity to go into a timeshare with Vinnie Vincent.
His theater work in the Phantom of the Opera. This is where Paul wants to be. I don’t care what he says about KISS being so integral to his life NOW the observation I make from listening to him in his own words and voice shows that his passion lies on that stage. Even when he talked about Peter coming to one of the shows he reflected on Peter fondly. He even referred to him as an old friend, after bashing the hell out of him throughout the rest of the book.
About Gene – It was interesting to hear Paul call Gene basically nothing more than an opportunist and a hack in business. Honestly I never thought much about Gene’s boasts about the business KISS. It made sense to me and Gene being so flamboyant about his brilliance it didn’t really enter my mind that Paul was a part of the equation.
His birth defect / ear deformity. This was the biggest reveal of the whole process. Of course he released this in the press leading up to the books release so it wasn’t shocking or a big reveal in the book. I do find it a very interesting aspect of Paul that I never had a clue about.
The Ho Hum
His recollections and reflections on the original line up aren’t really all that revealing. For the most part they are stories we’ve all heard before, especially lately. The difference here though is his absolute disdain for the guys who made it possible for “Paul” to get where he is. I don’t care that he maintained the band through the 80’s and 90’s (all by himself apparently). I personally enjoyed a lot of that stuff but come on, Paul if not for the 70’s KISS there wouldn’t have been enough “left over legacy” to push you through the 80’s. And yes I said push.
Back in the day I was always willing to give each new KISS album a shot because of who they WERE. That was the group that I loved, inspired me, and entertained me so with each new album that was released I was willing to give a look and listen because they WERE that good. The unmasked era of KISS was fun hair band rock that fit in great with the times but it wasn’t inspiring. It didn’t make me want to pick up a guitar (in fairness I already had but because of Ace in ’78) or even buy the merchandise.
Okay I did have one of his shirts at the time: “ Life is like sex, the more you put in the more you get out of it” but I was in seventh grade and it had drawings of almost naked chicks on it. But that was it.
Back to my point, the Paul Stanley in this book who talks about compassion and love for people seems to be a bit of a douche and a hypocrite considering what he says about the guys who made it possible for you and I dear reader to know his name. Did they take wrong turns in their lives, oh yeah. Did they kill their own golden goose? Most certainly. Does that give any of us including Paul and Gene the right to disparage the talent, showmanship and dedication that they obviously had after that. No. Not by a long shot. And quite frankly if not for the Reunion tour this current run with Tommy and Eric would never have happened. I truly believe that had they tried this in ’96 (no Ace and Peter, just Tommy and Eric) it would have failed miserably. It would have been as empty as it is now without Ace and Peter in their respective make-ups. I’m sure its still a good show to a point but watching this video tells me that it ain’t worth the current ticket prices.
With all of that said I do salute Paul for sticking it out for forty years. But I feel the same way for the guy who has ran the same barber shop for the past forty years. And like the old barber the odds are the haircut isn’t going to be as fresh as it was in the early days and your most likely gonna get your ear nicked.
Come on folks let’s be honest, he owned the keys to the Cadillac and could get back in and take it for a spin anytime he wanted to. But to say that Ace and Peter dropped the ball completely with their careers is simply unfair. Sure Peter’s solo stuff was a bit bleak and Ace’s albums were and are sporadically released but what have you done for us lately Paul? Oh yeah, you’re still in that tribute band that hasn’t had a hit record in how long again? Glass houses, pal. You’re relevant today not because of your current line up. Your relevant because of your legacy and the efforts of those that came to the dance with you forty years ago.
His reflections on Eric Carr has to be the most disturbing part of the book. Never before have I heard or read anyone talk so much negative trash about Eric. He says Eric always considered himself second best or not part of the team. But considering the way Paul is going on about his role in the band who could blame him for feeling that way. The words he used in describing Eric’s funeral cement my new found opinion that this man is a shallow asshole.
His constant whining about his parents. Suck it up pretty boy and get over yourself. Here is where the ongoing therapy sessions ooze out of like nuclear waste site. Every form of pain and suffering in this man’s life is apparently his parents fault. Quite frankly I think this reason is why he has his issues with Gene. For everything that he complains about Gene I believe it is rooted in the fact that Gene was 1. an only child and 2. an only child that was completely adored by his mother. For shame Gene, for shame. Seriously, in almost every chapter something happened that has its hard painful roots planted in the garden of hell that his parents planted in his psyche. I don’t know but I do hope those folks have passed on so not to be so embarrassed by this guy.
His definition of love. The way he bitches about his heart to heart conversation with his Dad in chapter 57 was truly a face palming moment. To me it sounded like his dad was being straightforward, open and honest with him but that apparently wasn’t good enough for Paul. Being judgmental about another persons life is far from a way to define the absolute definition of love. He seems to still be hung up on the sexual aspect of “love” by his definition and apparently believes everyone else defines it that same way.
His reflections on the Reunion, Psycho Circus and Farewell tours. His opinions about all it is fine. That’s his right but I think there is more to the bashing of Ace and Peter and the disregard to Eric Carr and Bruce . I really believe these horror stories are recounted in this manner to justify the current state of the KISS show.
It’s like saying over and over “Those guys were so horrible, terrible, vile or just hired hands that you people are so blessed and fortunate that Eric and Tommy were the saviors of KISS. On this I call horseshit. Yes they are fine musicians. They do a good job for what the job is but come on Paul, your own words solidify the arguments that what is happening on the road now is nothing more than a tribute band that happens to have two actual members of the original KISS.
His ongoing noble stance that no one including himself is more important than KISS is perhaps the most annoying and disheartening thing to me. WE the fans fell in love with those guys, even Paul. I also include in that Eric Carr, Bruce Kulick and even Vinnie Vincent. (I omit Mark St, John because if not for not wanting to re-shoot the cover of Animalize or the videos he was pretty pointless to the machine.).
If Paul was looking for sympathy in this effort I do believe he is way off the mark. Honestly though I don’t think he cares what you or I think. In the end I do still recommend the audio book. I’m not sure about the hard copy or kindle though. Considering the nature of the text I think every KISS fan will truly enjoy listening to Paul’s side of the story in his own voice. I know I did, even when he pissed me off.
Also I would say take a listen because it is a very rare look into the transcripts from Paul’s personal therapy sessions. Fascinating for sure.
Now, Go Play!