Sound — 10
KISS have always been one of those bands that, whether you love them or hate them, you can't really deny their impact, particularly in the field of live albums/performance. The first thing you should know about "Alive III," is that it was the only live album released during the non-makeup years of the band. The second thing you should know is that the setlist reflects this - half the setlist is post-"Creatures of the Night." The third thing you should know is that this is the only "Alive" to feature Bruce Kulick on lead guitar and Eric Singer on drums. The last thing you should know is that, somehow, despite everything I mentioned, "Alive III" still manages to be a great live album. Because when you get down to it, the most important thing about a live rock album is power and it has plenty.
Lyrics — 8
KISS have very straightforward lyrical topics. Rock 'n' roll, sex and well, although they have had some songs with different subject matter, more of the same is what you'll find on "Alive III." There's a distinct clarity of sound and heaviness here, however, that lends this simple hard rock a shot of adrenaline. Bruce is actually a good guitarist. I never thought much of his playing on the studio albums he did with KISS (everything between "Lick It Up" and "Psycho Circus"), even though I liked some of the albums, but I have to say, I'm impressed. Ace may always be my strong favorite KISS studio album shredder, but Bruce has got him just about matched in a live setting. Eric Singer, though I really miss Eric Carr, does a good job too. Paul and Gene sound about the same as they do nowadays.
Overall Impression — 9
Though I will always prefer the original "Alive," considering the circumstances of this album, which I stated at the beginning of this review, "Alive III" is pretty darn okay in my book. Even if you're one of the classic lineup purists, who will argue for hours that if something doesn't have Ace Frehley and Peter Criss then it's not KISS, you have to admit this is good. It has power, clarity, crowd banter, face-melting riffs, basically what works. It may not be the best thing the band ever did, but it's a whole lot better than I had expected and you don't have to be a fan of the non-makeup era of KISS to appreciate what "Alive III" is at the core. Rock 'n' roll. Plain and simple.