Sound: Kiss was riding the crest of their biggest wave of celebrity in 1977. Their latest album, Rock and Roll Over, had shipped gold. Their singles we're charting, and they we're selling out large venues internationally. They we're, by all accounts, larger than life! Being the absolute merchandising mogul he was, manager Bill Aucoin had the brilliant idea to have producer Eddie Kramer record the evening show at Budokan Hall in Japan, on the Rock and Roll Over tour early that year. But unfortunately, Kiss and then record label, Casablanca, deemed most of the material unusable. So Kiss then decided to continue with the Love Gun sessions. Soon after the release of Love Gun in mid '77, they again attempted to create a follow up live album to the massively popular Alive. The source material for the album was recorded at the L.A. Forum during the subsequent tour, and also a few tracks was taken from the aborted Japanese live album. Not wanting to reuse and rehash any songs from the Alive era, Kiss decided to select songs strictly from the past three albums; Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over, and Love Gun. They also recorded a side of brand new studio material, with Ace Frehley only participating on his own song Rocket Ride. In preserving the same tradition set by their previous live album, this one, almost to a laughable extent, was overdubbed and rerecorded. Although to their credit, how could they possibly recreate the songs perfectly, while at any cost entertaining the audience, and paying such close attention to the meticulous production details? That being said, of course the album sounds incredible! Especially in comparison to the relentlessly flat sound of most of their studio albums up to that point, particularly Dressed to Kill. So I rate the sound of this album as a nine, only because it's not really live. // 9
Lyrics: As with almost every Kiss song, the lyrics are all about sex and partying. I'm not demeaning this though, what better subjects are there to write about? Especially if you're a band named Kiss! Do the math. So naturally their hedonistic lyrics perfectly compliment their hard, blues-based syle of rock. I could, however, happily live without the repetition and monotony of goofy songs such as; Christine Sixteen, (Can anybody say pedophile?), Tomorrow and Tonight, and the soft, tear drenched ballad, Hard Luck Woman. The last two of which we're failed attempts at recapturing the unparalleled former glories of Beth and Rock and Roll all Nite, respectively. Other than the previously stated tracks, this album to me, is pure gold. But the song that rises above and waaaaaaay beyond for me, is the Ace Frehley signature song, Shock Me.
His amazing guitar solo at the end of that song blows my mind, even today! His finger tapping here, (Albeit with a pick.) predates Eddie Van Halen's supposed innovation of the technique. However, Eddie did take it and make it his own, but please Eddie, give credit where credit is due! While not being the first to utilize this technique, Ace was the the first to incorporate it into the context of mainstream, hard rock and roll. They say aliens or extra terrestrials have infinite wisdom and the technology to back it up. Maybe the spaceman is from the planet Jendell! Absolutely brilliant, and critically, very underrated. // 9
Overall Impression: I wasn't even alive, (Pun not intended.)when this album came out. I didn't get the pleasure of hearing it until I became heavily into Kiss when I was a teenager in the late 90's. It's always a breath of fresh air for me to listen to vintage rock, not dependent on distortion and studio trickery, but rather on Les Pauls, Marshall stacks, and showmanship. The only thing I truly dislike, (I don't hate any of it.) is the song Christine Sixteen. Not because of shoddy musicianship or production quality, I just despise that wretched song and can't listen to it, either the live or studio version. Regardless of that, this album, and Kiss in general, left an indelible mark on pop culture, as well as myself. If this album we're lost or stolen I would, without question, buy this album again. It's one of my most treasured Kiss albums, only surpassed by Hotter Than Hell. Thanks for reading, and always remember to rock and roll all nite, and party everyday! // 10