Author: Marc Scallatino
Title: “Vintage KISS Photos: 1974-1981”
Release Date: 10/16/2009
Genre: Hard Rock Photography
If you were a KISS fan at any point in your life then you probably followed the same course of action that most of us do and that was digging through the popular music magazines of the time and scouring them for images of our favorite Rock & Roll superheroes. I remember doing this back in the days of my own formative Hard Rock interests and looked forward to finding images of the band in such periodicals as Creem, Hi Parader and Circus. Another recollection was my thinking about how incredibly lucky those photographers were to have been that close to the band to be able to present me with these images in the first place. I admired them for that which they had delivered and I was surely going to keep seeking out their work in magazines to come. This kind of mindset in the KISS fan led to the obsession of folks like Marc Scallatino who became so fascinated by the bands iconic imagery that he began building up and stockpiling photos of the band. He admittedly never saw the band in their 70’s heyday and would manage to do so in their 80’s adventuring but one cannot fault him for that because based on the presented collection depicted in this book he has not only made up for lost time in his own eyes, but he has treated us to some absolutely incredible stuff that I can say any KISS fan would enjoy. His photo archive is entitled “Vintage KISS Photos” and it delivers just that……the bands early and most powerful years in terms of their own rich history. Beginning in 1974, the photos that Scallatino presents to us cover some interesting ground and several dozen of them have never been seen before by the larger demographic of KISS fans.
The book begins in 1974 and showcases an early bit of adventuring with KISS in NYC’s Central Park, and I loved the aspect of the band taking on the unsuspecting populace who wandered the greenery in search of relaxation. From the same year there are also a bunch of shots of the band getting “suited up” so to speak before going into action. Seeing the band in this intimate a setting during their formative beginnings is simply inspiring. We find a couple of sections of the band doing their live thing in both 1974 and 1975 but the next section that did it for me was the pages that covers the bands invasion of Cadillac, Michigan. This was the part of KISStory that found them being honored by the town and having the football team all made up as the members. I believe that there is some video of this historic day from the bands timeline on one of the KISSology DVD’s if my memory serves me correctly. It was great to be able to enjoy these images and there are plenty of them from this event. Many of the live performance shots are presented in black and white but that is fine with me since KISS just seems to “work” in this fashion as well as they do in color. There are some shots from the Cobo Arena where “Alive” was recorded and we even see the guys whose faces and banner are featured on the back cover of the album. As the treats continue along we end up at one of the defining moments for me as a youth and that is KISS at Madison Square Garden for the “Dynasty” tour July 24th and 25th 1979. I say “defining” for me because this was my very first concert – ever! I loved being brought back to the night of this show and getting to see the action up close. My seats for the show were rather far away but that didn’t matter as I was in the room and having a blast. Thanks for presenting these images Marc because I looked at them quite a bit more than some of the others. The visual adventure closes out with in-depth look at the video shoot for “A World Without Heroes” and gives us the only glimpse of Eric Carr that the book offers. Sadly we don’t get anything else with Eric from his touring in Australia and his initial costume but I liked getting the chance to be a fly on the wall for the video shoot.
In the end this is something that I think a wide number of KISS fans would enjoy owning and the large book spans about 200 pages give or take and delivers hundreds and hundreds of images that as you learned by the narrative were not things that you saw large presentations of in the past. It’s a beautiful book and one that might just spark your own KISS memories as it had done to me. There is limited amount of white space and instead we find photos leading to the end of the page and while there is some text, they do not overdo it. The text is limited to the introduction and the chapter headings. I would have liked to see a little more “depth” into the chapter headings or a few sentences as liner notes about the particular shoot. Another criticism I had was that none of the photographic work lines out who took the initial shot and as a photojournalist myself I really didn’t like to see that. While Mr. Scallatino might own the copyright to the shots presented in the book, I feel that this information is something that the readers would find interesting to know about. Perhaps the liner notes that I felt would have been a nice addition could have been formulated by the shoots actual creator. Maybe next time eh? In the end this is still a great item and one that will sit proudly next to any of your other KISS books. Take a look at it and help keep the majesty of KISS’ vintage years as vibrant today as they were when these photos were first taken.