Alive! review by KISS

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1975
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (34 votes)
KISS: Alive!

Sound — 10
If you really want to know in a nutshell why KISS is "Rock Hall worthy," listen to "Alive!". This is the album that started it all. In 1975, KISS needed a breakthrough. Their albums were not selling, their record label was about to go under, and their concert goers were disappointed with the sound of the studio albums. The only solution? Record a live album. However, live albums were considered death in the industry at the time, so KISS needed the album to sound fantastic. They brought in producer and audio engineer Eddie Kramer (who worked with acts like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix), and the result is about the best sound possible for 1975. What you hear is KISS at their best, performing high-energy upbeat versions of their original material. The guitars are very loud and overdriven, and Ace Frehley shines the most with his superb soloing, which is why "Alive!" is known as a big influence on guitar players. However, some of the tracks have additional vocal overdubbing and some mistakes fixed in the studio, which draw back from the live feel, but it still captures KISS' real sound nonetheless.

Lyrics — 8
I will admit that KISS' lyrics are nowhere near fantastic, but they at least make sense and they flow well. The subject of women, love, sex, and the rock and roll lifestyle are all prominent, even if covered with figurative language. As with most KISS albums, there is no profanity, even though it is a live album. Also, the vocals sound superb even in the raw live setting. Gene Simmons and Peter Criss make great vocal contributions, but Paul Stanley's voice stands out the most in the band. A small disappointment to me was that Ace Frehley was too afraid to sing lead or backing vocals at the time, so he is the only member whose voice is missing from the album (although he instead lets himself be known through his guitar).

Overall Impression — 10
In my opinion, this is the best KISS album overall, and the best live album I've ever heard. It captures the energy and the raw and unfiltered hard rock sound that made KISS so great in their prime. The most famous song from this album is "Rock and Roll All Nite," which features a memorable improvised guitar solo by Ace Frehley. Some of the other signature songs that come to life in the live setting are "Cold Gin," "Deuce," "She," "Parasite," and "Let Me Go Rock 'N' Roll." This album by far blows away their studio albums, and is only rivaled by its sequel, "Alive II." The standout aspect is that of Ace Frehley's guitar skills, which makes him the star of "Alive!" even though he does not sing any lead vocals on the album. The sound quality is superb and shows the true talent and nature of KISS before other parties began to force the band in the wrong directions. "Alive!" set the bar for other live albums to come, and it is the reason I continue to play the guitar today.

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