Kiss: Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley (vocals, guitar); Gene Simmons (vocals, bass guitar); Peter Criss (vocals, drums).
Besides arguing over which B+ or A- tracks are missing ("Why did they include "'Talk to Me'" instead of "'Charisma'"?") the only thing bad you can say about the two-disc Gold is that its cover art is too much in the style of Universal's Millennium Collection series. The near-perfect track listing deserves a better face than this generic, part-of-a-series artwork, but chuck that and the short, hyperbole-filled essay and you're left with make-up era as good as it gets. Think of a big hit and it's here -- in its live version if that's what's called for -- while the filler is so well chosen you just know the compilers have a Kiss Army membership patch somewhere in their dresser drawers. Laid out chronologically, Gold snaps up three or four key tracks from each golden-age album, gives the mighty Destroyer a little extra attention, gets more picky from Dynasty on, and breezes through the solo albums with only one song each from the four of them (which is being really kind to Peter Criss). You get to follow the band from their gutsy beginnings to their bombastic, arena rock-middle while getting a taste of the later iffy years and stopping short of when they became just another band. There are too many highlights too mention and the track listing and credits give all the necessary information (including proper Ace and Peter-less group membership for Unmasked's and the Elder's tracks -- a first!). They've even gone as far as to grab the two good tracks off the totally jive Killers compilation and include a picture from the final make-up photo shoot with a weary looking Ace. After so much mishandling since the millennium turned, Kiss is finally done right by Gold. What Double Platinum was to time of LPs, Gold is to the age of CDs. [Buyers who really want to get their Kiss on should consider this release's multimedia brother, Gold: 1974-1982 - Sound+Vision, which adds a DVD including the original Exposed full-length video and some live footage.] ~ David Jeffries