I was afraid to follow my lifelong ambition to become a fruit farmer.
But then I grew a pear.
Today’s re-evaluation album is Alive!, a 1975 live album by American hard rock band Kiss. It is considered to be their breakthrough and a landmark for live albums. After a disastrous financial blunder by their label Casablanca, owner Neil Bogart decided to capitalize on Kiss’ onstage notoriety and have the band record a live album. Kiss’ manager Bill Aucoin was receptive toward the idea, as he felt the band could finally achieve the sound they strove for. He also liked the fact that a live recording would be less expensive than a studio recording. The band members also liked the idea, and within a few days Bogart arranged the Dressed to Kill Tour. Bogart could not finance the tour however, so Aucoin paid for the entire tour with his own money, a total of $300,000. This was a last-ditch effort to save the Casablanca label. Would they succeed?
The album that saved their label and kick-started Kiss into super stardom, Alive! is quite possibly their best album. A Kiss show was a full-on rock and roll extravaganza with smoke bombs, a killer light show, a bass player spitting blood and shooting fire and all the other rock clichés you can imagine, and even though you can’t see all that, when listening to this you can feel all that excessiveness and excitement.
Even though it’s not truly live, Alive! captures the intensity and excitement of a Kiss show at that time. The band are really tight, intensive touring will do that for you, and the songs have never sounded so good and so hard. The four guys are firing on all cylinders; Simmons and Criss really keep the rythym tight allowing Frehley to display some pretty cool guitar solos and riffs and Stanley’s vocals are pretty good for such a limited singer. It’s choc-a-bloc full of the best songs Kiss has, and still have: Cold Gin, Black Diamond, She, Firehouse etc, etc. You know them, you’ve heard them, hell you’ve even owned this album. Alive! is probably one of the best live albums out there and still holds up 45 years later.
Is it excessive? No, only 1 of the 16 tracks is over 10 minutes and that can be easily dismissed as it features the dreaded drum solo. (100,000 Years if you’re interested. I wasn’t). Would I listen to it again? Most definitely. It’s a great album and it’s probably the only Kiss album you need. Would I recommend it? If you ever wondered what all the fuss about Kiss was, then this is the album you got to choose (see what I did there?). Is there a drum solo? Yup, and it totally drags the album down.
Despite a few iffy moments, Alive! is a great album and a real fun listen. 8/10 Join me next time when I get caught in the act with some funky guys. TTFN.