The KISS marketing machine is back in action, this time with yet another DVD. ROCK THE NATION LIVE! was filmed during the band’s 2004 tour, which featured two substitutes made up in full regalia, impersonating long-gone guitarist and drummer Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. Leaders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have taken lots of flack in recent years for carrying on with a pair of impersonators, as well as their saturation of the market with a seemingly endless supply of new product every few months. But for every naysayer and snippy critic, there are hordes of card-carrying KISS Army members at the ready to snatch up whatever the band puts forth.
In reality, there’s really just one major difference between the ethics of KISS and more “respectable” bands like U2: honesty. Simmons makes no bones about his business intentions, and if his quest for world domination encompasses shrewd marketing and entertainment at any cost, then so be it. The fans certainly don’t seem to mind as evidenced in the brisk business the band continues to do. And God love ’em for it, after all, a major component of rock’n’roll is spectacle, and KISS has no shortage of it.
The first good thing about this DVD is its inclusion of a few not-so-standard concert songs like “Makin’ Love,” “Tears Are Falling” and “She” that haven’t been in the band’s live repertoire for eons. As with all KISS concerts, the performances are highly orchestrated and flawless. The faux Ace and Peter characters are pitch perfect in their respective roles, while Gene and Paul rule the stage like the gods of thunder that they’ve always been. And on top of that it actually sounds legit, as in really live—not doctored, patched-up or lip-synched—and that’s a bonus in itself these days.
Speaking of bonuses, this two-DVD set also includes a few vignettes giving a glimpse behind the scenes of the massive production, including KISS’s dressing room. There is also a nifty little feature that allows you to view our favorite member exclusively, throughout seven songs—further evidence that KISS really does give the fans their money’s worth. It also comes packed in a slick, embossed, slipcase.
On an entertainment level, this new release delivers. For those KISS purists who are still pissed off over lineup changes or the fact that there’s some non-makeup material included, get over it, this is real value for your buck.
+ Jim Kaz