Monday, November 26, 2012

"Alive!" by Kiss (1975)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

Filed Between: B.B. King and The Knack

Fun Fact: My stance on the whole controversy surrounding how much of this LP was was recorded in a studio rather than live is this: who cares?!  It sounds the way it should and that's all that matters in my book.

I used to think you were either part of the Kiss Army or you hated the band and there was no middle ground.  These days I find myself part of that middle ground.  So, how did this seminal live recording pan out?


Key Tracks: The one-two punch of Deuce and Strutter that get things going are among the best recordings Kiss has ever made.

Weakest Track: Got to Choose

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

Kicks Off With: "you wanted the best, and you got it!"

Sounds Like: the bombastic announcement of their arrival that the band had been trying to achieve for years.  It's complete energy and swagger in a really good way.


Key Track: Parasite chugs along to its own heavy groove.  (It's also the only Ace Frehley composition on the first disc.)

Weakest Track: Nothin' to Lose

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

Kicks Off With: cowbell!

Sounds Like: a spotlight on the somewhat different approach taken by each of the primary songwriters.  This side features songs penned by Paul, Gene and Ace, and they all move in their own direction.


Key Track: Watchin' You simply because it is the only track less than six minutes long.

Weakest Track: 100,000 Years because it is over twelve minutes long and has a really long, really lame drum solo.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Don't Bother.

Kicks Off With: a great guitar riff (but it's all downhill from there).

Sounds Like: the overblown, overcompensating self-indulgence and sometimes sketchy musicianship that immediately turn so many people away from this band.  For some reason, Side III always seems to be the low point of the double live recording.


Key Track: This version of Rock and Roll All Nite has become the archetypal Kiss song.

Weakest Track: This version of Rock Bottom never finds its footing for reasons I can't figure out.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately: Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

Kicks Off With: the audience chanting the band's name.

Sounds Like: the encore (and then second encore), as we have come to expect from the double live recording.  This one is like a mini-greatest hits of the band's early years.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  Even if (for some astounding reason) you've never heard of Kiss, you know everything you need to know within a matter of seconds, at that momentum carries through all four sides.  Also, "Alive!" absolutely portrays the feel of being at a high-energy rock show, no matter where or how it was recorded.

Up next, we go back to the pre-fab four with the self-titled debut release from The Monkees.

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