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Kiss Klassified – War Stories From A Kiss Army General by Johan Kihlberg review

Five-star General

Cover art for Kiss Klassified – War Stories From A Kiss Army General by Johan Kihlberg

As Hot Chocolate’s Errol Brown once crooned memorably: ‘It started with a kiss.’ And it most certainly did - in sleepy 1970s Sweden at least. When in May ‘76 Kiss (capital ‘K’ of course)rocked up to play their debut Scandi show in Gothenburg, the impact left an indelible impression. Overnight, Sweden became the epicentre of sleaze and glam, and – for good or ill - it’s never felt the need to relinquish that status.

In Kiss Klassified we have the memories of Johan Kihlberg, president of Kiss Army Sweden for 10 years, distilled into a coffee-table book. It contains 750 never-before-seen photos and several unpublished interviews, and there’s a welcome focus on ‘lesser’ Kiss types such as Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent and Bruce Kulick. The book’s design resembles a garish 1980s heavy metal fanzine, which is a very good thing indeed, and it oozes with trivia so trivial as to amount to little more than insignificant tittletattle. There are facts here (like the story behind the mysterious symbols on Kulick’s left trouser leg) that will astound even the most knowledgeable Kiss fan.

A work of minor genius.

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.