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Articles Home » 1975 Articles » Kiss - 1975 Alive!
Kiss - 1975 Alive!

ALBUM: Alive!
LABEL: Casablanca
YEAR: 1975
CD REISSUE: Reissue List..


LINEUP: paul Stanley - vocals, guitars * Ace Frehley - guitars * Gene Simmons - vocals, bass * Peter Criss - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Deuce * 02 Strutter * 03 Got To Choose * 04 Hotter Than Hell * 05 Firehouse * 06 Nothin' To Lose * 07 C'mon And Love Me * 08 parasite * 09 he * 10 Watchin' You * 11 100,000 Years * 12 Black Diamond * 13 Rock Bottom * 14 Cold Gin * 15 Rock And Roll All Nite * 16 Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll



Kiss' first three albums, although each one a classic, failed to sell as expected. Sales were in the 150,000 range each, the two-studio-album-a-year routine became hectic and Casablanca finances were breaking even-no net income. Conundrum led to an action plan: a live record to reflect Kiss's live energy on record or to an amicable end Kiss-Casablanca contractual relationship with a win-win: the band free to sign with a new record company, Casablanca able to avoid financial chaos and the live album as a celebration of Kiss' Casablanca career. How did it turn out?

The Songs
Producer/engineer Eddie Kramer recorded five concerts for the album: Detroit's Cobo Hall, Cleveland, two at Davenport, IA and the last at Wildwood, NY. The idea was to 'build' the concert at Cobo Hall, as witnessed by the famous back cover, using the best available live versions culled from all sources. How 'live' is 'Alive!'? IMO it faithfully reflects Kiss's already legendary live performances. Overdubs? Sure. Doctoring? No. Listen to the bootlegs at Long Beach 1974, Winterland 1975 and especially the excellent 'Alternate Alive' included on Godfather Records 'Thunderbolts And Lightning' boot. The energy and overall sound was there, a starving young band playing hot hard rock while looking for stardom. According to Eddie Kramer, 'Who cares if it was over-dubbed? So what, it doesn't matter - the energy still came through. All the bombast, all the glory and craziness'. End of discussion.

'Alive!' starts with roadie J.R. Smalling's legendary spoken intro 'You wanted the best..', Paul's guitar intro to 'Deuce', an explosion and a storming assault. Kiss sounds unleashed. Compared to the studio version the pace is sped up, frantic. Peter's heavy use of cymbals deepens the effect. The whole recording will be like this. Gene's vocals are mean, Ace shines in two solos. 'Strutter' introduces Paul's raspy vocals, another album highlight. Ace's dazzling vibrato in your face. No rest before 'Got To Choose', the vocal harmonies shine here. 'Hotter Than Hell' is strengthened in heaviness, a far cry from its studio frailty. 'Firehouse' drums are prominent as well as staccato riffs. It's the place for Gene's fire-breathing act. You can almost feel it. 'Nothing To Lose' gets its definitive version. Gene sings like a possessed man, Peter trashes his drum kit and the vocal interaction between them, sort of a desperate Q&A, is incredibly powerful. 'C'mon And Love Me' is another definitive version, one out of many. Heavy, intense, Paul's intro is mighty as well as Ace's vibrato throughout the solo and fills. 'Parasite' is 70s heavy metal, driven by Peter's toms and Ace's dark riff. The guitar solo is fast and furious. 'She' is another heavy slice, slower, Kiss's stoner metal face. The drums duplicate Ace's guitar interlude, suddenly accelerates the tempo and shockingly the final riff from 'Let Me Know' turns into Ace's solo. Unison bends gradually sped up give the impression that his fingers and guitar caught fire. 'Watchin' You' is one of the hidden gems and rounds up the trio of dark heavy tunes. Like a mix of Black Sabbath's darkness with Led Zeppelin's guitars. Gene's vocals shine in his infrequent upper register and a blistering Ace solo.

Intensity reaches its climax with '100,000 Years'. Paul sings from the guts to the point of almost breaking, Ace's syncopated solo is brilliant and Peter delivers a drum solo that resembles a furious train crossing a mountain tunnel. His jazzy, Gene Kruppa influence is shown. The icing on the cake is Paul's preach, arguable the mother of all audience participation. 'Black Diamond' is the emotional peak. The song that only the drummer can sing. Paul's electric intro tops the acoustic studio intro. Peter's vocals, the harmonized guitar solo and Ace's final solo plus the fireworks are overwhelming. We are heading for the encores. 'Rock Bottom' beats the studio version (again..) and the last three songs are breathtaking. 'Cold Gin', the ultimate Ace anthem, begins with Paul's most famous stage rap. Ace's Les Paul literally sings offering more tasty fills than any blues classic and an immortal ending solo, absent on the studio version. Gene's bass lines are sharp and his fiery vocals interact with Paul's harmonies. A lesson in 70s metal. Without a warning, we are introduced to the definitive version of 'Rock And Roll All Nite'. Just listen to Ace's live solo: the musical translation of introduction, core and denouement. Alive! closes with 'Let Me Go, Rock 'N' Roll'. A hard rock party. Kiss loosen up and jam! Gene addresses Davenport, IA ('C'mon Quad City') and Peter rounds up the song and the album with the spoken 'Kiss Loves You..'

In Summary
The expected sales for the album were at best 350,000 units. Not only did it reach gold status with sales in excess of 500,000 three months after its release, and has allegedly sold more than 9 million copies worldwide to date. 'Alive!' paved the way for live releases like 'Frampton Comes Alive!', 'Foghat Live', 'Double Live Gonzo!', 'Live At Budokan' and many more. It's a landmark for live albums and Kiss' most indisputable musical legacy. Even though Kiss became 'larger than life' by 1977, Kissteria starts with 'Alive!' [word count 860]

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#1 | gdazegod on March 06 2016 00:21:42
Well overdue, and a good introduction to a whole spate of live album reviews (mainly from the 70's) coming up.
#2 | Eric on March 06 2016 22:36:53
I always thought this album cover kicked ass.
#3 | jefflynnefan on March 06 2016 23:18:02
Definitely a cool cover! I have seen Kiss live more times than any other band. I have seen them live six times. All the Kiss albums back then got heavy rotation at our house between my brothers and I. I have all their cd's but for some reason I don't listen to them as much anymore. I still listen to Paul Stanley's 1978 solo album on a regular basis though. It would have been interesting if Paul would have went the aor route instead of the hard rock route. I like his songs like 'Keep Me Waiting', 'When Two Hearts Collide', 'Best Man For You', 'Time Traveler' 'Sword and Stone', and such.
#4 | Explorer on March 07 2016 18:22:25
My introduction to the world of KISS, this album rocks....big time. The template for all those great live albums of the 70`s....and yes, I've heard all the stories about it being fixed in the studio, don`t care.Brilliant.
#5 | sabace on May 18 2016 20:00:34
love the review and a I agree with everything said . This is simply the best live lp ever released .
#6 | bpdp3 on May 19 2016 03:17:09
My first cassette. They really never really needed the makeup etc..that was just a fringe benefit. They just always had the ears for good, simple but effective riffs and melodies.
Sometimes I wonder how they'd be viewed if they'd never gotten big...I.e. If they'd remained an underground act from the scummy streets of NYC would the critics now praise them ala NY Dolls or the Ramones.

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