Spectacle, fire, blood, rock and roll! Kiss was very cool indeed! As a young boy Alive II was the first album I owned by this American band. The album turns 40 years old today.
Underway to Alive II
On September 10th, 1975, Kiss had released their first live album Alive!. After many years of no money and little success the band broke through (in America). It became their first big hit. For the first time Kiss’ excitement and energy was translated to vinyl.
Their first studio album after that, Destroyer, was produced by Bob Ezrin. It became hugely successful. Despite that, Kiss decided to employ a more basic sound for the next album. Eddie Kramer recorded the band live during a rehearsal session. This turned into the album Rock And Roll Over, a real rock ‘n roll album with a direct, firm sound. In the meantime the band toured continuously.
In early 1977 the band was in Japan. Manager Bill Aucoin suggested releasing a second live album, so the band could take some time to properly record their follow-up album.
Eddie Kramer recorded the April 2nd, 1977 show, which took place in Tokyo at the Budokan Hall. The album was assembled and mastered. However, Kiss and (recordcompany) Casablanca, thought the results were not suitable for release. The album got shelved and has become a much sought after bootleg.
Instead, the band continued recording for their album Love Gun, the last studio album on which the complete original band played together. This album sold very well also. The band released three studio albums over a period of 1.5 years since Alive!. Sales were sky high. Kiss was also very actively selling merchandising, like necklaces, t-shirts, posters, lunchboxes, etc. They did it all themselves and made tons of money off it.
On October 14th, 1977, 40 years ago today, the second Kiss live album was released on Casablanca Records.
Most of the songs were recorded at the August 16th, 17th and 18th, 1977 shows at The Forum in Los Angeles. Recordings were also made during the 3:00 PM soundchecks on the 26th en 27th of August. The shows were part of the Love Gun Tour. The songs Beth and I Want You were culled from the previously recorded Japanese Alive II recordings.
The band didn’t want to use any of the songs that were released on Alive!, thus the album consisted solely of songs released on the three succeeding albums: Destroyer, Rock And Roll Over and Love Gun.
The result was that there were too many recordings for a single album and too little for a double album. Consequently it was decided that the album was to be supplemented with new studio songs. The fourth (vinyl) side contained 5 new songs. Ace Frehley was not present during the recordings (the reason why is unclear). Rocket Ride was his only contribution.
Love Gun Tour
The Love Gun Tour was the superlative degree of all previous tours. The stage was even bigger, more impressive and the light and sound effects were more impressive.
Musically it all gelled. Kiss’ music is pure rock ‘n’ roll. It comes across perfectly on the record. Songs like Detroit Rock City, Makin’ Love, Love Gun, Christine Sixteen and Shock Me, to this day, pound their way through the speakers and make it clear that Kiss live resulted in an adrenaline shot.
The sum of all the parts is what made Kiss unique, and Ace Frehley is a very underrated guitarist (to which Eddie van Halen must have listened very carefully).
Kiss has been ridiculed by the press from day one, because of the show elements surrounding the band. However, the fans, united in the very fanatic Kiss Army, loved it. The band was partly founded because the band members were bored stiff during concerts and were appalled by the lack of respect for the audience. They were convinced that the audience, which pays good money to see you, should experience a sensational evening. Kiss got that covered.
The band understood their fan’s wishes very well. The original vinyl release of the album was a double album with a gatefold cover. It contained a lot of extra’s:
- color booklet The Evolution of Kiss, containing photo’s of the band and its members from 1973 to 1977;
- a set of (temporary) stick-on tattoos, consisting of the band logo, the Kiss Army logo and the heads, autographs and symbols of each band member;
- a merchandising order form, through which you could also become a member of the Kiss Army;
- the inner sleeves contained pictures of fans in a rain of confetti and the band’s complete discography.
The album contains the following songs:
- Detroit Rock City
- King Of The Night Time World
- Ladies Room
- Makin’ Love
- Love Gun
- Calling Dr. Love
- Christine Sixteen
- Shock Me
- Hard Luck Woman
- Tomorrow And Tonight
- I Stole Your Love
- God Of Thunder
- I Want You
- Shout It Out Loud
- All American Man
- Rockin’ In The U.S.A.
- Larger Than Life
- Rocket Ride
- Any Way You Want It
After Alive II
In America the band couldn’t get any bigger than they were. Soon it became evident that the market was being flooded by Kiss material. Within the course of one year a movie, a compilation (double) album, comic books (“with real Kiss blood!”) and 4 new (!) (solo) albums would follow.
In Europe Kiss never reached the amount of fame as they did in their homeland. Maybe that has something to do with their logo. In Europe (and Germany in particular) Alive II was released without the regular Kiss logo, but with alternate S’s.
As stated, as a boy I thought Kiss was the bomb. What did you think? Did you like or love Kiss? Or, were you part of the large number of people that can not and will not take Kiss seriously? Let me know!
Kiss – Alive II – Gatefold image: ign.com
Kiss – Destroyer (1976) – Rock And Roll Over (1976) – Love Gun (1977) & Kiss – Alive II images: paulstanley.com
Kiss – The Lost Alive II image: ioffer.com
Kiss – Live August 1977 The Forum image: pinterest.com
Kiss – Live image: kissfanshop.de
Kiss – Alive II – The Evolution Of Kiss image: kissmonster.com
Kiss – Alive II – Extra’s image: everythingkiss.com
Ace Frehley – Live image: allkindsagirls.blogspot.com
Kiss – Logo Europe image: bol.com