Kiss - 'Alive II' (landmark album review)

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 21, 2017    
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This album provides a thrilling listen and stands as one of the finest live albums of the era.

This is a Rocktopia™ landmark review (album review no. 4994, pls. click HERE for more information)

"Don't judge a book by its cover," goes the old adage. The cover of this, the second live installment from US Rockers KISS, features the striking image of a blood-splattered, sweat-soaked Gene Simmons. On opening up the lavish gatefold sleeve, it gets even better with a veritable feast of flamethrowers, fireworks, flamethrowers, levitating drums and hydraulic ramps and, errrrr... even more flamethrowers.

Once described as a nuclear explosion in a waxworks factory, KISS have succeeded in producing one of the most spectacular covers for a live album ever. If this doesn't make you want to quit your day job and become a Rock star, then nothing will.

So, the cover is great, but what about the music? Commencing with the traditional KISS battle cry, and straight into the opening salvo of 'Detroit Rock City' and 'King Of The Night Time World', a battery of explosions leaves you with no doubt that this will be an audio riot. The pace hardly lets up throughout the whole album, with each song coming across harder, faster and vastly superior to their studio counterparts.

All band members take a turn at the microphone, with the bulk of the vocals handled by Simmons and Paul Stanley. Ace Frehley makes his live debut on 'Shock Me', complete with guitar histrionics, while Peter Criss is credited with the album's more mellow moments, 'Beth' and the Rod Stewart-flavoured 'Hard Luck Woman'.

Possibly the most contrasting moment on the album is when the orchestral strings of 'Beth' fade into the ominous, rumbling bass that precedes the Armageddon-esque riff of 'God Of Thunder' – arguably one of the heaviest riffs ever commended to vinyl in a song that perfectly symbolizes the onstage persona of Simmons.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

Lead singer Stanley shines on the strutting cocksure cuts of 'Love Gun' and the powerhouse-riff-fuelled Rocker 'I Stole Your Love', quite possibly one of the most underrated gems in their whole catalogue.

The album closes with the rabble-rousing Kiss party anthem, 'Shout It Out Loud', before coming to somewhat of a premature end. Since the album only draws from the preceding three studio albums and duplicates no tracks from KISS' prior live album, KISS were left with a shortage of material (although 'Hooligan', 'Take Me', and 'Do You Love Me' were originally slated for inclusion). Kiss therefore recorded five new tracks to complete a full double album, with Stanley's chest-thumping 'All American Man' and Frehley's stellar 'Rocket Ride' being the picks of the bunch, not to mention the menacing 'Larger Than Life'.

Quite why KISS failed to pursue this heavier, live in the studio direction on the following 'Dynasty' album is anyone's guess, but many track the start of their decline to the Pop approach that took them into the eighties and it was quite some time before they managed to refocus and get their career back in the saddle, however by then their golden years were behind them.

There has been great debate over how "live" this album actually was, and whether or not it was a worthy successor to the legendary 'Alive' album. Whatever your thoughts are, there is no disputing that this album provides a thrilling listen and stands as one of the finest live albums of the era.

Mick Burgess

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