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30 Best Love Albums - Kiss Alive!

2007 will bring the 30th anniversary of my first rock concert (Kiss, December 2, 1977 – Metropolitan Sports Center). In honor of that momentous event I have decided to use this blog to review my 30 best loved albums. They will not be in any order or progression but I will try to review them musically and why they mean so much to me. I’ll also note if they made the Definitive 200 List. With that on to #27 of the list...

27. Kiss - Alive! (1975)

It would only make sense that since this odyssey of reviewing my 30 best loved albums was born out my desire to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of my first concert (Kiss at Met Center December 2nd, 1977) that the album Kiss Alive! would make the list of 30 favorite albums. As it was Kiss Alive! played an integral part of my musical growing up. In 1976 the popular musical landscape was a lot different than it is now. As a 13-year old 7th grader, music wasn’t really marketed to me. Sure kids with older siblings or hip parents might be into the Stones or Led Zeppelin but for the vast majority of early or pre-teens, bands like Chicago and Barry Manilow were what was popular. In fact my first two albums were by Eric Carmen and Melissa Manchester. Dweeby for sure but pretty much the norm. Contrast that today when 3 years ago Green Day’s American Idiot was on every 4th grade boy’s fave list and a whole genre of kiddy punk is marketed to ever younger pre-teens.

Then came Kiss Alive! I was vaguely aware of the band Kiss and the makeup and fire-eating antics but it wasn’t until Kiss Alive! that I was really introduced to the band. As it was, I came across them like a lot of other kids: a friend’s older brother was into them. The outrageous costumes, the blood spewing, the individual characters were cool of course but that only goes so far. It was the music that won me over and legions of other suburban teen boys. They sang about the same general topics that all popular bands sing about: sex, drugs, and rock and roll, however, it had a harder edge and a little bit of “wheee? to go with the “grrr.?

Kiss Alive! is basically live versions of band’s highlights from their first three, generally lackluster-selling, albums. Deuce and Strutter kick off the album and are pretty decent rockers. Paul Stanley’s patter between songs is usually about drinking and partying, however it’s the last 3rd of the album where the songs really take off. Rock Bottom and Black Diamond are pretty good rockers but then after a long introduction by Paul Stanley, the band lets loose with Cold Gin. Ace’s guitar work on this song is very cool and I always wanted to be able to play the guitar solo myself (to no avail). Rock and Roll All Night which became Kiss’ signature song and then Let Me Go Rock and Roll end the concert and the album. The song placement shows how early in their career this album came out as Rock and Roll All Night has long since become the song’s closing song.

Over the years it has come out that the band’s producers augmented the live sound of the album by amping up the crowd reaction. This was a big disappointment as one of the key features of the album is that it sounds live, as if you were there. To think the crowd reaction was added later was like finding out that the curvy girl at school stuffed her sweater. Later there’s been reports that not only was the audience reaction added to the album but that many other parts of the concert were dubbed in, including vocals and some of Peter Criss’ drum work. There still is debate whether or not additional studio work actually happened. I tend to think that it wasn't overdubbed (except for minor mistakes, bad mics,etc) because the band’s label was broke at the time and they probably didn’t have the resources to pay for the band to basically re-create its concert in the studio.

Kiss Alive! was the album that pointed my in the right musical direction. No more Eric Carmen for me! Pretty soon after discovering this album I was all over the Who, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, the Stones, etc. Little did I know those bands were slowly becoming irrelevant due to other musical stirrings in England and NYC but it would take me another 5 years to discover that. However for saving my soul for rock and roll and providing the reason to attend my first rock and roll concert, Kiss Alive! is one of my 30 best loved albums.

What do you think of Kiss Alive!

Place on the Definitive 200 List: Not on the List.


Free - did you collect Kiss trading cards back in the '70's?

By the way, what are your plans prior to the Wilco concert? Me and a couple of friends are going to meet for a beer someplace around Northrop.

Jeff T.

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