The Second Coming

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Details At A Glance

Category Documentary/Music Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 122:33 minutes Other Extras Discography
Main Menu Audio and Animation
Music Videos (3)
Web Link
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (69:08)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Tommy Thayer

Warner Vision Australia
Starring Gene Simmons
Paul Stanley
Ace Frehley
Peter Criss
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music KISS

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s) 
English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 256Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ?No Smoking No
Subtitles French
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    In the annals of the history of rock and roll, it will be interesting to see how the legacy of KISS is recorded. Pretty much by their own admission, they are not a bunch of great musicians nor a bunch of great songwriters. Yet, for a period of 25 years they have ruled as one of the great rock-and-roll acts, transcending eras and fads to remain one of the biggest draws in the world. Why? Quite simply due to the fact that when you stick these four guys on stage, they will entertain - guaranteed. Having been a big fan of the band since the very early days in 1974, I have been fortunate enough to see them live on a number of occasions. This is a band that knows how to put on a seriously good show - loud, pumping rock music, huge over-the-top peripherals like fireworks and a commitment to "rock and roll all night and party every day". After a KISS show, you knew that you had been to something special. No ifs, no buts and no maybes. For anything beyond two hours, you were assaulted by some seriously amplified rock music, bombarded with pyrotechnics of every kind and generally hell-raised in such a manner so as to totally preclude any notion of this being an ordinary experience. Of all the acts that I have ever seen live, and believe me there are a truckload of them, this band was and is the best. Period.

    So, when the opportunity came up to review this disc, I jumped at the chance. Whilst none of their albums were the very first that I ever bought (for the record, that honour went to Elton John's Don't Shoot Me I Am Only The Piano Player), they certainly constituted a fair chunk of my early record collection (remember those big, black vinyl things called LPs?). And, of the very few vinyl LPs that I still own, they still form a huge part - including some rare pressings that will never be gotten rid of. Yet, as good as the albums were, and they did do some damn good rock-and-roll albums, nothing ever compared to them live.

    What we have on offer here is broadly-speaking a record of the World Reunion Tour of 1996 and 1997. KISS had its roots in New York in the early 1970s when the four original members finally came together. What followed was a succession of albums for a new record label known as Casablanca that sold steadily, pretty much on word-of-mouth and the strength of their gigs. They were at the vanguard of the shock rock movement and the strength of their live shows was highlighted by what was probably their breakthrough album in Alive. What followed was a succession of great albums like Dynasty and Destroyer, but eventually the egos got too big and Ace Frehley and Peter Criss eventually left the band. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley continued on with assorted other musicians (and minus their infamous makeup) but the band never really captured the heights of those heady days pre-1983. Then, in 1996 they came together for something of an impromptu reunion for the MTV Unplugged series. The fans got to see what they had been wanting to see since 1983 and it was enough to convince the guys to get back together for one of the greatest tours the world has seen - the KISS World Reunion Tour, complete with makeup.

    Now, for those wanting a full concert video, you are going to be disappointed - this is a documentary containing very few complete versions of any of their songs. What it is is a fascinating look at the evolution of the band and its eventual break up and then reunion, through a varied collection of archival material accompanied by interview excerpts from the band and various persons close to the band that at times does not pull any punches.

Transfer Quality


    Okay, we have a varied assortment of archival material dating back to the late sixties interspersed with concert footage from the World Reunion Tour. As such there are the usual inherent problems associated with this sort of material. However, this is in general as good a video transfer as we could reasonably expect in the circumstances.

    The transfer is generally presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and of course it is not 16x9 enhanced. You should note however that there are the odd instances where widescreen material at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 is used, although this too is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Obviously, the age of some of the source material, and indeed the origin of some of the source material, means that there are a few lapses in the overall quality of the transfer. However, I have to say that despite these odd lapses, I was not at all disappointed with the quality of the transfer. In general, it is quite sharp and nicely detailed. The source of the material does preclude this from being what I would call a clear transfer and grain was a minor problem at times. Still, this was again nothing to really detract from the transfer. Shadow detail was not the best but this is definitely a reflection of the source material and not a DVD transfer problem. There did not appear to be any problems with low level noise in the transfer.

    The colours have come up pretty well in the transfer, again considering the source material, with a very nice depth to the colours. There did not seem to be any problems with oversaturation and even the brief periods of extreme stage lighting did not really get too out-of-control.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer, nor any film-to-video artefacts, either. There did not appear to be any significant film artefacts in the transfer, other than those inherent in some of the earlier source material.

    This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 69:08. This is decently placed and was not in any way disruptive to the proceedings.


    Unfortunately, after what is a far more than acceptable video transfer, we get a shocker of a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that almost rivals the appalling efforts on some Sony Music releases. One of the greatest live bands ever had me licking my lips in anticipation of a seriously formidable soundtrack. What we end up with is something muddier than the Yarra River on a bad day.

    There are two English audio tracks on the DVD: the aforementioned Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. Since the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was at times so appallingly bad, I found myself listening more to the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, which was a lot clearer and in many ways a lot more evocative of the way this band sounds live.

    The main problem with the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is the fact that the vocals are quite recessed in the mix, and the bass channel has been mixed with far too much resonance at times and really ends up drowning out the vocals and the bulk of the music. As a result it is difficult to listen to this soundtrack. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is much clearer, with the vocals coming up very well indeed and in the right proportion to the rest of the music.

    Audio sync did not appear to be a problem with any of the soundtracks.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also disappointing in lacking any really decent action out of the rear surround channels. What is there is quite variable, and overall it lacks cohesion with what is going on in the front surrounds and especially in the poor bass channel. Even worse is the fact that you simply cannot crank this up loud, as it is liable to reduce everything, including your hearing, to a pile of rubble at anything even remotely above normal listening levels. The overall effect is as suggested quite muddied and muffled, and really not a good advertisement for the format. In comparison, the Dolby Digital 2.0 is a lot clearer, a lot brighter and far more "natural" sounding. It is a lot like the sound off a compact disc, and is eminently listenable even when you crank it up LOUD - and that is the only way to listen to the music of KISS!


    Not a bad little package on offer especially by music standards, at least by appearances.


    A decent looking menu, with some good audio and animation enhancement. There is, however, a navigation problem with the menu: if you go to Audio Selection from the Main Menu, then make a selection, you are thrown right back to the start of the DVD and have to suffer the copyright message and other stuff again, ending back at the main menu.


    A fairly bare bones effort that does little more than list the albums. This could and should have been far more detailed and a serious missed opportunity exists here.

Music Videos (3)

    Really not so much music videos as what appears to be the complete versions of three songs on the DVD - Shout It Out Loud, Shandi and Detroit Rock City. They suffer the same overall problems as the DVD in general.

Web Link

    Another of these accursed things and as such not checked out.

R4 vs R1

    As far as is able to be determined, this is identical to the Region 1 release, making Region 4 the region of choice on the basis of superior PAL resolution.


    Well, this was not what I was quite expecting when I stuck my hand up to review it - I look forward in anticipation to a full two hour concert video - but it is nonetheless an interesting and enjoyable program. It is a pity that the DVD features a shockingly poor Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as this really mars the experience enormously. Fans should not be deterred as the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is more than acceptable but for others this is probably worth passing over.

    A good video transfer.

    A rubbish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer but a good Dolby Digital 2.0 audio transfer.

    A decent extras package in quantity if not quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Audio DD 5.1
DD 2.0

© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
9th July 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL