Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Classic Album Review: Kiss Alive!

The year is 1975. A struggling rock band from New York is on the brink of being dropped from their record label, which itself is about to fold. Their concerts sold out, but it didn't translate into album sales. What to do? Roll the dice on a double-live album.

It wasn't as predictable in 1975 as it is now. Live albums didn't do well, and double albums, even worse. But it was a necessary evil in order to get a full Kiss show recorded. And what a recording it is. I'm willing to gamble that a couple of things were overdubbed in the studio, but after seeing several live performances of Kiss either live or on video, it's pretty damn close.

This is the ultimate document of a band in their early days, when they craved stardom and all it brought and didn't have it. This is what a band sounds like that lives for their fans and rock n'roll, because that's all they have. Which is why it's a classic. You can hear Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, and Paul Stanley give it their all on stage, even if they're broke, starving and mold is growing in their leather boots.

I've listened to it countless times. I have it on vinyl, the remastered CD, and the Alive box set that came out a couple years ago. It's one of those albums I never get tired of, and sounds great cranked up wherever you are, pissing off your neighbors (you know what I say- "fuck 'em"). As much as I love Alive II, this is where it's at, before the success of this album brought them insane fortune and fame. I'll argue that the success did change them and their songwriting; how could it not? This is Kiss when they really were the world's most dangerous band, and all those religious zealots had every reason to be afraid of them. But that's neither here nor there. You owe it to yourself to own this one. You don't even have to like Kiss to like this album.

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