<<Click here to read an exclusive Dale Sherman interview>>
Black Diamond 2 is a book KISS fans won't want to be without, have you ever wanted a complete reference to not only official KISS releases (audio, video, books & comics) but also projects of ex-KISS members and bootlegs too? Well look no futher than Black Diamond 2, this comprehensive book contains 400 pages absolutely full of information on KISS releases. Thankfully Dale hasn't just concentrated on US releases but also UK, Austrailian and Japanese too. It doesn't stop there either - the book also contains details of take offs, homage & rip off's (which includes details of albums by other bands that are KISS related in one way or another), official solo appearances on albums by members of the band, KISS TV appearances, compilations and a whole load more.
This book makes an excellent companion for anyone interested in collecting KISS released, I found loads of stuff that I never knew about before (did you know Eric Carr co-wrote a track on Bryan Adams' 'Cuts Like A Knife' album, Gene sung backing on a cher song or Paul Stanley stared in a Bruce Willis show?). The only major thing missing (from a UK point of view) is information on God Gave Rock & Roll To You II and Unholy, both of which done quite well in the charts over here. Rather than try to review the book, I've decided to print a few excepts from the book so you can make up your own mind.
The following excerpts are used with permission from Dale Sherman:-
Secion 1: Audio
Chapter 1 - Official Unitied States Recordings
Chapter 2 - Official Solo Appearances On Albums
Chapter 3 - Compilation Albums
Chapter 4 - Take Offs, Homage and Rip-offs
Chapter 5 - Official Australian Releases
Chapter 6 - Official Japanese Releases
Chapter 7 - Official UK Releases
Chapter 8 - Bootleg Albums and CD's
Chapter 9 - Private Audio Recordings
Section 2: Video
Chapter 10 - Official American Releases
Chapter 11 - Important Television Appearences
Chapter 12 - Music Videos
Chapter 13 - Solo Appearances On Video
Chapter 14 - Homage. Parodies and Rip-offs
Chapter 15 - Private Video Recordings
Secion 3: Book And Comics
Chapter 16 - Books
Chapter 17 - Comics
Chapter 18 - Final Words
One thing that is for certain is the U.K.'s fascination with singles. This is very evident with the releases that occurred once Phonogram took up distribution for the albums in 1980. Phonogram seemed to take much pleasure in releasing singles in as many different forms as possible, including picture discs, 12" singles with additional songs, color vinyl and other special discs. Unlike the US and several other countries where 12" singles are normally used only for promotional purposes, in the U.K. there exists a major commercial market for such items. Thus, unlike the other countries listed in this chapter, each album will list 12" singles where it is evident that they were commercially available.
Distribution for KISS albums initially started with EMI (the Beatles old U.K. label) in February 1975 with the band's first release, KISS. EMI, who had set up a deal with Casablanca in 1975 to distribute the label in Europe, would continue releasing KISS albums with the "Bogart" Casablanca record label until February 1977 (with the exception of HOTTER THAN HELL which would have to wait for a release until May 1977 under PYE). Pye became the distributor for Casablanca, while EMI + international/imports would begin distributing imports of the Casablanca label that very same year. This explains why it is possible to pick up copies of the first six KISS albums in England bearing the original US call letters instead of the standard call letters used in the U.K. Pye released all of their albums on red vinyl with the drawing of KISS from the LOVE GUN album on the record label - no doubt to interest fans in them over the imports from EMI - and would also reissue all the albums up to 1977 in red vinyl. HOTTER THAN HELL saw its first U.K. release here and the Solo Albums were slipped over entirely (although the singles from those albums were released), while the red vinyl version of ALIVE II reached very low distribution and very few copies of DOUBLE PLATINUM exist in this form.
Phonogram would take over distribution in 1980 with their buy-out of Casablanca, releasing UNMASKED on their Mercury label. Phonogram would revert to the Casablanca label for reissues of the KISS catalogue, while also using it for every new album until CREATURES OF THE NIGHT. With LICK IT UP Phonogram moved KISS over to its Vertigo label for new releases, while reissues from the Vertigo line appeared in later years under the Mercury label. With the release of REVENGE, KISS would be moved to the Mercury label for good. Confusing, isn't it?
Production coordinator was Stephanie TudorBasic tracks for the four new songs produced by Michael James Jackson were recorded at The Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles, California in May 1982 during the beginning of recordings for the CREATURES OF THE NIGHT album.
Special Notes: An album to pacify Phonogram for a product during the delay between MUSIC FROM "THE ELDER" and CREATURES OF THE NIGHT, there was initial talks of releasing the four new tracks as an EP without the filler of older material. However, Phonogram decided against this format as an EP has a limited shelf life in several countries and a full-length album would sell better, particularly in countries where the earlier albums had limited marketing. The band members have looked back on the album with mixed feelings, usually pointing to one or two of the newer tracks as being worthy for release, while the others of lesser fare (see CREATURES OF THE NIGHT entry under "Official American releases" for more details on these tracks). "Nowhere To Run" and "Partners In Crime," the two new tracks usually pointed out by the band members as the best of the new material, would continuously turn up as filler on singles over the next decade (such as the "Unholy" 12" vinyl single released in the U.K. in 1992 [KISS 1212]) and on the American promo album, FIRST KISS... LAST LICKS. "Nowhere To Run" was originally written for the second ELDER album. Meanwhile, Bryan Adams co-wrote "Down On Your Knees" with Stanley and long-time KISS writer Mikel Japp (whose name is misspelled as Michael Japp on the album). Adams would later gain success as a solo artist and his CUTS LIKE A KNIFE album would feature the Eric Carr co-written song "Don't Leave Me Lonely." This album can also be found under European call letters (6302 193), especially in the heavily imported West German version. This album was successful enough to remain in many of these countries' KISS catalog, with the UK version reaching #42 with six weeks on the charts.
(VERH 49) released September 1987 by Vertigo. Manufactured and marketed by Phonogram.
Singles: "Crazy, Crazy Nights"/ "No No No" was released in September 1987 in four formats: 1) A 7" single with a picture sleeve of the band in a posed studio shot (KISS 7). The same 7" single in a poster bag much in the style of the "Lick It Up" bag (KlSSP7). 3) A 12" single with two bonus tracks, "Lick It Up" and "Uh! All Night." This came in a picture sleeve (KISS 712). 4) a 12" picture disc with two different bonus tracks, "Heaven's On Fire" and "Tears Are Failing" (KISSP 712). "Crazy, Crazy Nights" was also released in October 1988 as the video on KISS' first CDV in the U.K (080232-2). This CDV also featured the following songs in audio-form: "No No No", "When Your Walls Come Down" and "Thief In The Night." "Crazy, Crazy Nights" reached #4 with night weeks on the charts, the longest and highest the band has ever charted in the U.K.
"Reason To Live"/ "Thief In The Night" was released in December 1987 in five formats: 1) A 7" single with a picture sleeve of the band in a posed studio shot. Initial copies also came with a KISS patch (KISS 8). 2) A 12" single with two bonus tracks, "Who Wants To Be Lonely" and "Thrills In The Night" (KISS 812). 3) A 12" picture disc with "Secretly Cruel" instead of "Thrills In The Night" found the 12" black vinyl version (KISSP 812). 4) A cassette single with the additional track of "Who Wants To Be Lonely" (KISMC 8). 5) A CD single with two bonus tracks, "Tears Are Falling" and "Crazy, Crazy Nights" (KISCD8). "Reason To Live" reached #33 with seven weeks on the charts.
"Turn On The Night"/ "Hell Or High Water" was released in September 1988 in similar formats to the above: 1) A 7" picture sleeve single (KISS 9). 2) The same 7" single in a poster bag (KISSP 9). 3) A 12" single in a picture sleeve, with two bonus tracks, "King Of The Mountain" and "Any Way You Slice It" (KISS 912). 4) A 12' picture disc with the same tracks as number three above (KISSP 912). 5) A CD single with two bonus tracks, "King Of The Mountain" and "I Love It Loud" (KISCD 9). "Turn On The Night" reached #41 with three weeks on the charts.
Special Notes: Same as American release. CRAZY NIGHTS reached #4 with fourteen weeks on the charts. It was to be the highest charting and longest duration album for band in the UK.
(Excerpts from) Chapter Thirteen "Solo Appearances on Video"
(60469) released June 1985 by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video.
Filmed Summer 1984 in Vancouver Canada. Premiered December 14, 1984.
Format: VHS Stereo, Beta and Laserdisc, retail $29.95. Later reissued in VMS Hi-Fi Dolby Stereo Surround Sound (60469) in March 1991, retail $14.95. A letterboxed reissue of the film came out in Fall 1994 on Laserdisc, heavily promoting Michael Crichton after the success of JURASSIC PARK.
Running Time: 1:38:24
Special Notes: RUNAWAY was the first film costarring Gene after a long interest in wanting to appear in films. Gene plays Charles Luther, a villain who is out to get information of which the hero, played by Tom Selleck, has in his possession.
The film was directed and written by Michael Crichton, who had written such books and films as THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN, THE TERMINAL MAN, LOOKER, and the mega-popular JURASSIC PARK. It was due to the success of the last film that RUNAWAY was reissued in 1994 on laserdise in a widescreen edition. The back cover of the disc features some quotes from Crichton and the actors in the film, including Gene.
RUNAWAY was to be Gene's most successful motion picture and seemingly typecast him as a villain in several of his other screen appearances.
Premiered September 27, 1985 on NBC Network at
9:00 p.m. EST.
MIAMI VICE: "The Prodigal Son"
Special Notes: Gene Simmons makes a brief appearance as a drug lord who gives information to Crockett and Tubbs (Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas) about Colombian drug dealers who are murdering federal agents.
This was the two-hour season premiere of the popular cop series known more for its visuals and for the frequent guest appearances by rock musicians in acting roles (i.e. Little Richard, Phil Collins, Ted Nugent, James Brown, etc.). While Gene's character is given very little to do here, a reference is made to his character near the end of the program suggesting that he might return later in the series. It was not to be.
This episode was later release on video by MCA.
THE HITCHHIKER: "O.D. Feelin"'Premiered January 28, 1986 on HBO pay-cable network. Filmed in Vancouver, Canada during Fall 1985.
Special Notes: Gene makes a brief appearance at the end of this episode of this mediocre "Twilight Zone" series as Mr. Big, a drug lord (again?). Gene appears opposite Michael Des Barres whom he had worked with on Gene's solo album in 1978.
Some people connected with the band later reported that Gene looked remarkably like Howard Marks of Glickman/Marks during this role, and that this was not just an accident on the part of Gene.
Special Notes: Gene's second feature film gave him an opportunity to play two roles,
one as a federal agent, the other as an outrageous hermaphrodite. Gene is purely
outrageous in this star-vehicle for television star John Stamos. But the Lorenzo Semple,
Jr. script is a blatant rip-off of the James Bond series without the humor of the
The film was briefly released to theaters in the Northwest U.S., then sat in the can until it's video release in 1987. More notable were the two advertising campaigns for the film, one in May 1985 before production began which featured Gene Simmons in a suit as the federal agent, the other near the time of the film's release which featured Gene in his outrageous cross-dressing outfit from the film to play off of his makeup,
Special Notes: Gene was first offered the role of Sammy Curr, the demonic heavy metal singer, when approached about appearing in the film. Instead, Gene went with the small role of Nuke, the radio DJ who is the only voice of common sense in the film.
A fun horror film which plays off of the outrageous belief by some fundamentalist Christians that heavy metal music is evil and that backward-masking on Songs lead to satanic events.
WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE
(A86230) released March 1988 by New World Video. Later re-released in 1995 by R&G
Filmed in Spring 1986 in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California.
Premiered December 15, 1986.
Formats: VHS Hi-Fi Stereo and Beta (A86230), retails $14.95.
Running Time: 1:44:23
Gene would later team up with writer/director Gary Sherman for the
television series SABLE (see below).
SABLE: "Pilot Episode"
Special Notes: In the Fall of 1986, Gene was approached by Gary Sherman (who had worked with Gene on WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE) about helping him out in a pilot for a series that Sherman was trying to sell to the networks. The series was based on a comic book series by well-known comic book artist/writer Mike Grell called JON SABLE: FREELANCE. The comic dealt with a mercenary/detective who by day wroe childrens books and by night painted his face in camouflage colors and prowled the street in search of villains.
Simmons agreed to film the pilot during the band's hiatus between ASYLUM and CRAZY NIGHTS. The pilot film was completed and shown to executives at the ABC Network who bought the series for airing as a "second season" replacement series in the winter of 1987. At this point the stories divert depending on who is telling what occurred next. According to Simmons, the pilot went to series and he decided to bow out in order to stick more closely with developments in KISS. According to Gary Sherman in interviews done at the time of the series demise in the spring of 1987, ABC loved the show, but hated Simmons and wanted him to go. Thus, Simmons was dropped in favor of another actor (Lewis Van Bergen) and the series went on for a total of seven episodes before being canceled.
Surprisingly, Van Bergen's voice is remarkably like that of Simmons, and when donning the greasepaint for Sable even looks like him. The series is also interesting in the fact that Sable is killed off in the seventh episode (although his alter-ego survives). The pilot episode with Gene has never been aired in its original form (portions were reshot for Van Bergen's first episode).
(1245) released September 1990 by Academy Entertainment.
Filmed Spring 1989.
Never theatrically released.
Formats: VHS and Beta (1245), retail $89.95.
Running Time: 1:43:05
Special Notes: After turning down roles in LICENSE TO KILL and DIE HARD due to his frustrations in repeatedly playing villains, Gene took this brief role as a Vietnam vet who helps the drug-dealing hero of the film blow away a bunch of bad guys.
Although filmed for a theatrical release, the movie instead went directly to video. It was to be Gene's. last acting role in front of the camera.
Miscellaneous:Gene has been involved with other projects as well that did not come together as planned. Two projects that were dropped as the band came closer to touring for HOT IN THE SHADE were a role as a drug lord (again?) in another episode of THE HITCHHIKER series from HBO and as a villain in the sequel to ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, called ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL FOREVER. Perhaps it's just as well he did not do these.
Gene has stated several times in past interviews about turning down roles as "the guy in a monster mask" for films back in the 1970s and early 1980s. He also turned down roles in NIGHT SHIFT and FLASHDANCE before moving on to RUNAWAY. In an interview done by Gene for the WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE film, Gene also mentioned that his initial interest in going into acting came when he was asked to do a television senes in 1982. However, the name of this series was never mentioned.
Gene was also initially involved in other projects behind the scenes. Reports appeared in the winter of 1989 suggesting that Gene was to produce a series for Shannon Tweed called DELTA TENN, which was to be aired in the spring of 1989. This series was to be based on a comic book as was SABLE listed above. There were also talks in the mid-1980s of a film being put together by Gene and Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue, but no official word was ever announced as to what the film was to be about. Going even further back, Gene was also involved in ideas for the KISS animated television series which was to be done by Filmation in 1978/79, a film script in 1980 which no details were given, and the prospects of a MUSIC FROM "THE ELDER" film for which the options were still available as recently as 1992. In 1989 Gene was also working on producing a film for Warner Brothers based on a book by Gerald Frank called THE DEED. As with the other projects listed here, nothing was to come of this film idea.
On the television front, Gene has made numerous appearances on talk and news programs addressing his latest films or KISS projects (way too numerous to list here). Gene was also involved in a RAD ("Rock Against Drugs") commercial made in 1987 which showed Gene as a mutated drug user and as himself. He also made a comedic appearance on the second episode of JUST SAY JULIE, an MTV program starring comedian Julie Brown.
Mention should also be made of Gene's brief appearance in the film, THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION, PART II: THE METAL YEARS. Gene appears only briefly in this movie made up of numerous interviews with a variety of heavy metal performers including Paul Stanley, Ozzy Osbourne and members of Megadeth.
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