Alive! (Kiss album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Alive!
Kiss alive album cover.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedSeptember 10, 1975 (1975-09-10)
RecordedMay 16, 1975 (Cobo Arena, Detroit)
June 21, 1975 (Cleveland Music Hall, Cleveland)
July 20, 1975 (RKO Orpheum Theater, Davenport)
July 23, 1975 (Wildwoods Convention Center, Wildwood)
StudioElectric Lady (New York City)
Genre
Length78:17
LabelCasablanca
ProducerEddie 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 fourth album overall, and the first live album, 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-album contains live versions of selected tracks from their first three studio albums, Kiss, Hotter Than Hell and Dressed to Kill. It was recorded at concerts in Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Wildwood, New Jersey; and Davenport, Iowa on May 16, June 21, July 20 and 23, 1975.[2]

The album's title was a homage to the 1972 live album Slade Alive! from the English rock group Slade, a band that heavily influenced Kiss.[3][4]

Background[edit]

From 1974 to 1975, Kiss released three albums: Kiss, Hotter Than Hell, and Dressed to Kill.[5] Although the three albums helped establish a cult following for the band in the Rust Belt, they were commercial failures.[6] Guitarist Paul Stanley attributed the low sales to Kiss' weak sound when they were in the studio versus when they were in concert. According to Stanley: "I never thought any of our first three albums captured the intensity of what the band was going for or was. And it was a problem because people would come to see us and many of them weren't buying our albums."[7] Kiss was famous for its elaborate stage performances, where the band members would wear kabuki-style makeup, use pyrotechnics, and spit fake blood.[6] Bassist Gene Simmons said that because of Kiss' notoriety, they were kicked off of multiple tours with groups like Argent, Black Sabbath, and Savoy Brown because they were afraid to play after Kiss.[8]

Kiss' record label, Casablanca Records, had similar financial issues. By 1974, Casablanca's profits were declining, so CEO Neil Bogart decided to release a double album of audio highlights from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, a show that averaged fourteen million viewers a night.[9] Casablanca shipped 750,000 copies, but the album was an enormous failure.[6] Distributors mailed back their free copies, and Casablanca co-founder Larry Harris said: "It hit the floor with a lifeless, echoing thud."[6] The failure negatively affected many acts signed with Casablanca, including Kiss; the band only received a $15,000 advance for the first three albums, and had yet to receive any royalties.[6] As a result of the breach of contract, Kiss began looking at other labels to sign with, and a lawsuit was eventually filed against Bogart.[10]

In a last-ditch effort to save the label, 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.[11] The band members also liked the idea, and within a few days, Bogart arranged the Dressed to Kill Tour.[6] Bogart could not finance the tour, however, so Aucoin paid for the entire tour with his own money, a total of $300,000.[6]

Recording[edit]

Alive! was recorded over four stops on the Dressed to Kill Tour: May 16 at Cobo Arena in Detroit; June 21 at Cleveland Music Hall in Cleveland; July 20 at RKO Orpheum Theater in Davenport; and July 23 at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood.[12] The seventy-eight-minute double album comprises sixteen songs from the band's first three albums.[13] The live performances featured elaborate setups. For example, during the song "100,000 Years", crew members used flamethrowers to engulf the stage in a ring of fire, and Peter Criss' drum kit rose high above the other band members.[6]

Kiss' wild and energetic stage presence did not translate well to the live recordings.[5] Stanley and Simmons had several miscues, such as playing the wrong chords, knocking over mics, and not singing directly into the mic.[5] Producer Eddie Kramer knew that significant dubbing was needed to make the album sound good.[5] For many years, Kiss denied the use of dubbing on Alive!.[5] In Simmons' 2001 autobiography, Kiss and Make-up: A Memoir, he admitted the band had done some post-production alterations: "There have always been rumors that the Alive! record was substantially reworked in the studio. It's not true. We did touch up the vocal parts and fix some of the guitar solos, but we didn't have the time or money to completely rework the recordings. What we wanted, and what we got, was proof of the band's rawness and power."[9] In a 2003 episode of Ultimate Albums, Kiss fully admitted to overdubbing the album. Stanley said: "What we felt was necessary was to capture the energy of the performance, not necessarily having it note for note of what actually happened." Simmons said: "Most people assume it was all live. It wasn't."[14]

Kiss rerecorded parts of the album at Electric Lady Studios in August.[15] The live recordings were so heavily altered, only Criss' drum tracks remained untouched.[15] Even the audience was doctored, as Kramer spliced together the best cheers and screams from various Kiss performances.[5] The band wanted the listener to feel like they were in fact in the audience watching the show, and since directly recording an audience would not sound good, this was considered to be the next best solution.[5]

Release[edit]

Alive! was released on September 10, 1975.[16] The packaging featured a gatefold sleeve, a tour program with photos, and handwritten notes from the four band members.[5][6] The first stop for the tour supporting the Alive! album was on its release day in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Five days after its release, Aucoin informed Bogart that Kiss were going to leave Casablanca. In response, Bogart signed a two million dollar check to retain the band.[6]

Re-release[edit]

Alive! was originally reissued 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.[17] 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.

The album was reissued in 2014 on vinyl with the original artwork and sleeve. The album was reissued again in 2020 for its 45th Anniversary on colored vinyl.

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[13]
Blender[18]
Christgau's Record GuideB–[19]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal10/10[20]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[21]
Pitchfork10/10[22]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[23]

Alive! received negative and mixed reviews from contemporary critics. Alan Niester of Rolling Stone judged the band's music to be "awful, criminally repetitive, thuddingly monotonous ... and mildly entertaining for about ten minutes", remarking how Casablanca promoted Kiss as "new bad-boy teen idols".[24] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau manifested "bemused curiosity" for the album and stated that, while many considered the album to be either "a de facto best-of" or "sludge", he and "the multimillion kids who are buying it don't fall into either category".[19]

Modern reviews have generally been positive. Greg Prato of AllMusic considered Alive! to be "Kiss' greatest album ever."[13] In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, the album was called "a nonstop Kiss-Krieg of two-note guitar motifs, fake-sounding audience noise, and inspirational chitchat," but also "the next best thing to being there, clearly."[23] Jason Josephes of Pitchfork wrote 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."[22] Canadian journalist Martin Popoff remarked how Alive! "turned Kiss into an insane rock 'n' roll phenomenon" by elevating what were "economical and low-key hard rock ditties for kiddies" to "larger-than-life status, each now a bombastic track enveloped in fire-breathing mayhem, exploding smokebombs and screaming, hysterical crowds way too high in the mix."[20]

Commercial[edit]

Alive! peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 album charts, and charted for 110 weeks, by far the longest chart run in the band's history.[25]

Legacy[edit]

In 2003, the album was ranked No. 159 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, maintaining the rating in a 2012 update, and dropping to number 305 in the 2020 revision.[26][27] In 2006, it was placed at No. 26 on Guitar World magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. In 2009, the same magazine placed it at No. 3 on their list of Top 10 Live Albums.[28]

"Alive! was the first album I ever bought," Soundgarden's Kim Thayil told Guitar World in 1992. "And I wasn't alone: you can hear their influence all over metal and punk."[29] Scott Ian and Charlie Benante of Anthrax were immediate fans of the album and "loved every single song on that record."[30][31]

Track listing[edit]

All credits adapted from the original releases.[32][2]

Side A
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Deuce"Gene SimmonsSimmons3:32
2."Strutter"Paul Stanley, SimmonsStanley3:12
3."Got to Choose"StanleyStanley3:35
4."Hotter Than Hell"StanleyStanley3:11
5."Firehouse"StanleyStanley3:42
Side B
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
6."Nothin' to Lose"SimmonsSimmons, Peter Criss3:23
7."C'mon and Love Me"StanleyStanley2:52
8."Parasite"Ace FrehleySimmons3:21
9."She"Simmons, Stephen CoronelSimmons, Stanley, Criss6:42
Side C
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
10."Watchin' You"SimmonsSimmons3:51
11."100,000 Years"Stanley, SimmonsStanley12:12
12."Black Diamond"StanleyCriss, intro by Stanley5:47
Side D
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
13."Rock Bottom"Stanley (intro: Frehley)Stanley3:08
14."Cold Gin"FrehleySimmons5:21
15."Rock and Roll All Nite"Stanley, SimmonsSimmons3:37
16."Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll"Stanley, SimmonsSimmons5:09

Personnel[edit]

Kiss
Additional personnel
Production

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[42] Gold 20,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[43] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[44] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wagner, Jeff (January 30, 2013). "10 All-Time Greatest Metal Live Albums". Noisecreep. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Kiss (2006). Kiss Alive! 1975-2000 (CD Booklet). New York City: Mercury Records. B0007586-02.
  3. ^ Simmons, Gene (2002). Kiss and Make-up. Three Rivers Press. p. 85. ISBN 0-609-81002-2.
  4. ^ Ken Sharpe interview with Jim Lea
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "KISS Alive". Ultimate Albums. Season 1. Episode 13. April 26, 2003. VH1.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Staff (July 4, 2018). "How Kiss's Alive! Saved Their Record Label - And Changed the Music Industry". Mental Floss. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Sharp, Simmons & Stanley 2013, p. 488.
  8. ^ Sharp, Simmons & Stanley 2013, p. 491.
  9. ^ a b Simmons 2001, p. 111.
  10. ^ Sharp, Simmons & Stanley 2013, pp. 492–493.
  11. ^ Sharp, Simmons & Stanley 2013, pp. 491–492.
  12. ^ Weiss, Brett (2016). Encyclopedia of KISS: Music, Personnel, Events and Related Subjects. McFarland & Company. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-7864-9802-4.
  13. ^ a b c Prato, Greg. Alive! – Kiss at AllMusic
  14. ^ KISS - Classic Albums VH1- ALIVE
  15. ^ a b Deriso, Nick (September 10, 2015). "How Kiss Came 'Alive' by Using Some Studio Magic". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (September 10, 2019). "44 Years Ago: Kiss Release the Game-Changing Concert Album 'Alive!'". Loudwire. Retrieved April 18, 2020.
  17. ^ Prato, Greg. "kiss - Kiss Alive! 1975-2000". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved January 2, 2022.
  18. ^ http://www.blender.com/guide/back-catalogue/52637/alive!-l.html[dead link]
  19. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: K". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 28, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  20. ^ a b Popoff, Martin (October 2003). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 1: The Seventies. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 162. ISBN 978-1894959025.
  21. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-857-12595-8.
  22. ^ a b Josephes, Jason. "Kiss: Alive!". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on November 2, 2005. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  23. ^ a b The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Fireside. 2004. p. 461. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. Archived from the original on December 4, 2013.
  24. ^ Niester, Alan (January 1, 1976). "Alive!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  25. ^ a b "Kiss Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  26. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  27. ^ "The 500 Gretest Albums of All Time: Kiss, 'Alive!'". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2020. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  28. ^ "Top 10 Live Albums Every Rock Fan Should Own". Guitar World. September 23, 2009. Archived from the original on April 8, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  29. ^ (quoted in) Tolinski, Brad: 'The Woodshed', Guitar World, September 1996
  30. ^ Ian, Scott; Wiederhorn, Jon (November 24, 2015). I'm the Man – The Story of That Guy from Anthrax. Da Capo Press. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0-306-82419-7.
  31. ^ Benante, Charlie (July 2016). "How Kiss changed my life". Classic Rock. No. 224. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  32. ^ Kiss (1975). Alive! (LP Sleeve). Los Angeles, California: Casablanca Records. NBLP 7020-798.
  33. ^ Kourasanis, Jakam (January 13, 2015). "Interview with original KISS Krew member J.R. Smalling". Medium.com. Retrieved December 31, 2021.
  34. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  35. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 6471a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  36. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  37. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Kiss – Alive!". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  38. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kiss – Alive!". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  39. ^ "Kiss | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  40. ^ "Top 100 Albums of '76". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  41. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums - Year-End". Billboard. Archived from the original on December 22, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  42. ^ "Aussie Kiss" (PDF). Cash Box. March 6, 1976. p. 49. Retrieved November 15, 2021 – via World Radio History.
  43. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Kiss – Alive". Music Canada.
  44. ^ "American album certifications – Kiss – Alive". Recording Industry Association of America.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]