Welcome back to Turntable Talk! Thanks once again to all the regular readers and welcome to any new ones. If you’re keeping count, this is our 14th instalment…if you’re wondering about past topics, I indexed the first dozen here. For any new readers, briefly, on Turntable Talk we have a number of guest columnists from other music sites, sounding off on one particular topic. This month, our topic is Feels Like The First Time. No, no, we’re not going X-rated here, we’re talking about a different kind of first – the first album our guests ever bought.
Today we have Deke , from Deke’s Viny Reviews and More. Deke’s always enthusiastic especially about hard rock and vinyl releases. Has he always been? We’ll find out here:
Thanks to Dave for once again letting me participate with you all. It will come as no shocker, but my first album was KISS Alive II which was released in 1977 but I had not gotten it until sometime in early1978 when I was in Duluth, Minnesota and used my trip money to buy this album.
I was hooked and still am when it comes to anything Hard Rock. KISS had it down pat at the time. Since then I’ve been a fan for 45 years. They have gotten silly in regards to marketing, which I won’t get into but when it comes to reissuing their past albums with demos, live material, I’m still that guy that will go and get the updated versions.
KISS Alive II ,my original copy, is long gone. But about five years ago my daughter Lauren gifted me a reissue copy of Alive II and KISS themselves did the right thing by including the original booklet plus the stick-on tattoos that came with it. Seeing all that took me right back to ’78…
I thought I would talk about most of the songs on here as this was not only my introduction not only to KISS but to that crazy world of Hard Rock/Metal.
KISS growing up in the ’70s were huge. They were in all kinds of print press like Circus and Creem and even teeny bopper magazines like 16. So of course a pal of mine whose name was John Young had the KISS Originals (first three Kiss studio records packaged as a triple set) and when I saw the cover of the “Originals” I drooled. Who are these four Kabuki-like warriors with makeup?
Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter aka Demon, Starchild, Spaceman and Cat.
Let me talk about the songs from this double-vinyl that have basically brainwashed me since 1978!
“DETROIT ROCK CITY” Some Kiss guy announces “You wanted the best …..” we know the rest, right? We’re off and there’s the crowd roaring at the opening riff of “Detroit Rock City”. The crowd is jacked. I mean the audio of it. To this day when I listen to it I find the crowd too much even – if it’s a Kiss crowd (or the supposed sample KISS used by The Super Bowl ’77 crowd!) Who knows and I see what KISS is doing, they’re making it seem bigger and better and were louder than all you other acts out there. For me at age 11 going on 12 …it friggin’ worked.
“KING OF THE NIGHTIME WORLD” is launched and the KISS live chops (is it live?)… well for me at that time, they sound live and I’m blown away. Holy geez are Ace/Paul pulling down some dual leads at the end of this tune! Yeah they actually are…
“LADIES ROOM” Next to the Creatures Of The Night album (1982), I would have to say this is Gene Simmons best-sung record and it’s the live one. I mean check out the top left pick of Simmons (front cover) where he has all that blood and guck spewing out of his mouth! Man he’s a mess, but being 12 at the time you would have thought “Mom can I sleep tonight with the light on tonight ?”after looking at that pic.
“CALLING DR. LOVE” KISS sound like they know what they’re doing on this track. Better yet, Peter Criss pulls out the cowbell and by the time I got around to getting the studio albums, it’s evidently clear that these live versions are played at a fast clip compared to the studio offerings. Party stimulants were around I’m sure on that “Kiss Alive II Tour” of 1977.
“SHOCK ME” My favourite Kiss guy, Space Ace Frehley loads up (literally ) and blasts off with his lead vocal and guitar solo on “Shock Me”. It’s a great track and a bunch of mish-mashing notes make up his guitar solo and of course the guitar is smoking during it.
“HARD LUCK WOMAN” & “TOMORROW & TONIGHT”- Were both recorded in the studio and then the live crowd was slapped down in the background so KISS could fill up the live portion of the album without repeating tracks that were on the first Kiss Alive from two years earlier! I wonder what went through Simmons and Stanley’s heads at the time when they did this stunt! Yeah I know and you know what went through their heads, the answer was….$$$$$$$$$$$$ and more $$$$$$$$!
“I STOLE YOUR LOVE” Was this not the tour opener? Except for Alive II it’s the opening song on Side 3 ! Good straight ahead rocker track!
“BETH”- So Petey the cat man gets his limelight complete with prerecorded symphony . It’s his time to shine, while Gene And Paul count the $$$$ backstage and Ace… well I dunno…
“GOD OF THUNDER” Demon Gene, the lord of the wasteland, slams forward on this Sabbath-like stomp complete with Peter Criss drum solo which I thought at the time was the greatest drum solo… until I heard Neal Peart in 1981 totally mash his drum set on his solo on YYZ! Anyways Criss does his deal and we’re headed to the finish line with …
“SHOUT IT OUT LOUD” Gene and Paul want us to all “Shout it Out Loud!” You gotta have a party! This song we have all heard and the live portion album ends with Kiss telling us they love us!
So Kiss decides “Hey we got 15 minutes on side 4 lets get the yaya’s out ,so to speak and each guy does a studio tune well except Criss. Listen to Peter’s solo album from 1978 and this will explain to you the listener why there are no studio tracks of his on Alive II!
“AMERICAN MAN” Paulie struts himself and tells us he is an American Man! Ummm, is this really KISS playing on this? Bob Kulick supposedly played all the lead guitar on these tracks except for the Ace tune (coming up)
“LARGER THAN LIFE” It’s Simmons and it’s not a bad tune! I’ve heard better (“Radioactive”), heard worse (his whole Asshole solo album). It’s Gene circa ’77, ego included!
“ROCKET RIDE” This is why Ace is my fave Kiss guy until he split in 1982! He just rocks out this track. I mean does it get any better in the Frehley Hall Of Fame with lyrics like ” baby wants it fast baby wants a blast she wants a Rocket Ride!” ? Plus his solo is so sloppy it’s cool! Ace in ’77, you were the deal!
“ANY WAY YOU WANT IT” Cover tune and Stanley and crew rock it up but yeah its a cover!
In conclusion – Rewind, like I said to early ’79 and Alive II blew my 11-year old mind! Kiss laid down the law with a gimmick and it royally paid off, ’til the public got sick of Kiss and their deal in the early ’80s. Except for me. I still littered Gene and Paul’s pockets with dollars, not cents!