Alive! (Kiss album)

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Alive!
Live album by Kiss
Released September 10, 1975
Recorded March - July 1975
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 74:50
Label Casablanca
Producer Eddie Kramer
Kiss chronology
Dressed to Kill
(1975)
Alive!
(1975)
Destroyer
(1976)
Singles from Alive!
  1. "Rock and Roll All Nite"
    Released: October 14, 1975

Alive! is the first live album, and fourth overall, by American hard rock band Kiss. It is considered to be their breakthrough and a landmark for live albums. Released on September 10, 1975, the double-disc set contains live versions of selected tracks from their first three studio albums, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell and Dressed to Kill. It was recorded from concerts in Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Wildwood, New Jersey; and Davenport, Iowa.

Album information[edit]

Despite their reputation and success as a live act, which emphasized theatrics as much as it did music, their notoriety did not translate to increased record sales. Fans told the band that their albums were not capturing how the band sounded live, so the band decided to release a live album. Kiss was essentially surviving on then-manager Bill Aucoin's American Express card. Complicating matters was the fact that their label, Neil Bogart's Casablanca Records, was having financial difficulties of its own stemming from a major misstep. The label had released a double album of Johnny Carson monologues earlier in the year. However, the album was a flop, but Casablanca had pressed millions of copies in anticipation of it being a strong seller.

Casablanca, however, did think a Kiss live album would be a respectable seller. The album outperformed expectations as it was certified gold, becoming both Kiss' and Casablanca's first top 10 album. Years later, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons recounted that in the weeks after the release, they saw a significant increase in concert attendance. In the documentary Kiss: X-treme Close Up, Stanley remembers that at one particular show in Dayton, Ohio, "the place was packed; I mean you couldn't have gotten another person in with a shoehorn".

The album's title was an homage to the 1972 live album Slade Alive! from the English rock group Slade, a band that heavily influenced Kiss.[1][2]

Overdubbing controversy[edit]

There has been considerable debate as to how much use was made of studio overdubs. In his autobiography Kiss and Make-Up, Simmons stated that very little corrective work was done in the studio and that most of the studio time was devoted strictly to mixing down the multi-track recordings. He also emphasized that Kiss could not have done extensive overdubbing even if they had wanted to; thanks in no small part to the Johnny Carson album fiasco, the extremely meager budget allotted to the band simply would not allow it.

According to Dale Sherman's book Black Diamond and Goldmine magazine, in the early 1990s, Eddie Kramer stated there were a few overdubs to correct the most obvious mistakes: strings breaking or off-key notes, for instance. However, in recent years, Kramer has stated that the only original live recording on the album is Peter Criss' drum tracks. Stanley has noted that there is a bass mistake in the choruses of "C'mon and Love Me". He has also made comments that even though there have been live albums recorded later that make Alive! sound like it was recorded in a washroom, he has no qualms about it. Criss has also claimed, in his 2012 autobiography Makeup to Breakup,[3] that the only original live recordings on the album were his drum tracks.

During the program Classic Albums, the band members all stated that while many changes had been made, such as overdubbing vocals and mixing together various crowd sounds to get a more amplified sense of the "live" sound, they considered the changes minor. In particular, they stated that they only altered the noise of the crowd to better capture the feel of the actual performances, since the raw recordings only dimly picked up the audience. They also stated that they had difficulties capturing vocals due to the natural jumps, dancing, and other stage activities.[4]

Re-release[edit]

Alive! was first issued as a double-CD set in what has now become known as a "fatboy" 2CD case. When the Kiss back catalog was remastered, it was housed in a slimline 2CD case, and in keeping with the rest of the reissue program, had the artwork restored. Alive! was re-released in 2006 as part of the Kiss Alive! 1975–2000 box set. The short running time of Alive! allowed for a single, unedited CD edition in that release. The remastered CD edition eliminated the breaks between the four sides of the original LP release, resulting in that version of the album playing as one continuous performance. The 72-page booklet packaged with the CD set erroneously credited songwriting for "Cold Gin" to Stanley instead of Ace Frehley.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[5]
Blender 5/5 stars[6]
Robert Christgau B-[7]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[9]

Alive! received positive reviews. Greg Prato of Allmusic rated the album four-and-a-half stars out of five and stated that "Alive! remains Kiss' greatest album ever." Robert Christgau rated the album a B-, stating that he and "the multimillion kids who are buying it" "fall into neither category" of those who regard the album "as a de facto best-of" and "those who regard it as the sludge."

In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, the album was rated four out of five stars. It was called "a nonstop Kiss-krieg of two-note guitar motifs, fake-sounding audience noise, and inspirational chitchat", but it was then restated as the next best thing to being there, clearly. Jason Josephes of Pitchfork Media rated it 10 out of 10 points and said that "the album may seem like a joke, mainly because it contains every arena rock cliche in the book", but called it "total sonic proof of Kiss climbing their apex".

Alive! peaked at #9 on the album charts, and charted for 110 weeks, by far the longest in the band's history. In 2003, the album was ranked #159 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2006, it was placed at #26 on Guitar World magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. In 2009, the same magazine placed it at #3 on their list of Top 10 Live Albums.[10]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
1. "Deuce"   Gene Simmons Simmons 3:56
2. "Strutter"   Paul Stanley, Simmons Stanley 3:22
3. "Got to Choose"   Stanley Stanley 3:40
4. "Hotter Than Hell"   Stanley Stanley 3:30
5. "Firehouse"   Stanley Stanley 3:50
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
6. "Nothin' to Lose"   Simmons Simmons, Peter Criss 3:33
7. "C'mon and Love Me"   Stanley Stanley 3:05
8. "Parasite"   Frehley Simmons 3:34
9. "She"   Simmons, Stephen Coronel Simmons, Stanley 6:56
Side three
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
10. "Watchin' You"   Simmons Simmons 3:49
11. "100,000 Years"   Stanley, Simmons Stanley 12:12
12. "Black Diamond"   Stanley Criss, intro by Stanley 6:16
Side four
No. Title Writer(s) Lead vocals Length
13. "Rock Bottom"   Frehley, Stanley Stanley 3:21
14. "Cold Gin"   Frehley Simmons 7:16
15. "Rock and Roll All Nite"   Stanley, Simmons Simmons 3:59
16. "Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll"   Stanley, Simmons Simmons 5:45

Personnel[edit]

Kiss
With
  • JR Smalling - introduction

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[12] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[13] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simmons, Gene (2002). Kiss and Make-up. Three Rivers Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-609-81002-2. 
  2. ^ Ken Sharpe interview with Jim Lea
  3. ^ "Makeup To Breakup"
  4. ^ VH1 Classic Albums - KISS ALIVE!
  5. ^ Prato, Greg. Alive! - Kiss at AllMusic
  6. ^ http://www.blender.com/guide/back-catalogue/52637/alive!-l.html[dead link]
  7. ^ Robert Christgau. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Kiss". Robertchristgau.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  8. ^ Josephes, Jason. "Kiss: Alive!". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  9. ^ The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Fireside. 2004. p. 461. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  10. ^ Guitar World Top 10 Live Albums. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
  11. ^ "AllMusic Billboard albums". Retrieved February 8, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Kiss – Alive". Music Canada. 
  13. ^ "American album certifications – Kiss – Alive". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH