Friday, November 26, 2021

Kiss 8: Alive II

Three studio albums since the last live album meant it was time for another celebration of what the announcer calls “the hottest band in the world.” Alive II was another double album, once again festooned with shots of Kiss in action, with a lovely full-color shot of Gene Simmons dribbling fake blood right on the front cover.
At the risk of too much repetition, the songs are taken from only those three most recent albums, delivered just as you remembered them but louder and with more pyrotechnics and more Paul Stanley stage banter. Ace Frehley is allowed to sing “Shock Me” and play his spotlight solo, then Peter Criss gets his first vocal on “Hard Luck Woman”. As with the rest of the album, reports conflict as to how much of this album was recorded in front of an actual Kiss audience, and how much was tweaked during mixing. When “Beth” comes up in the setlist, there’s no subterfuge: Peter simply grabbed a mike and sang over the backing track. (We’re assuming his drum solo on “God Of Thunder” is authentic.) Since they couldn’t repeat “Rock And Roll All Nite”, “Shout It Out Loud” must serve as the closing anthem, after which the crowd chants “We want Kiss” into the dead wax.
With only enough live material to cover three shortish sides, side four offered a grab bag of five new studio tracks. Bicentennial patriotism may have inspired “All-American Man” and the dopey “Rockin’ In The U.S.A.”, but the braggadocio of “Larger Than Life” isn’t anywhere as cerebral. If the lead guitar sounds different on those tunes, you’re right: studio gun Bob Kulick filled in for Ace, who only appears on “Rocket Ride”, wherein he plays everything but the drums. Finally, Paul turns up the fuzz for a cover of the Dave Clark Five’s “Any Way You Want It”, wherein the production gets the echo right, but the main “it’s all right” vocal sounds like he’s singing along with his car speaker.
Like most sequels, Alive II had more style than substance. As for extra packaging, a booklet entitled “The Evolution Of Kiss” told the story in words and pictures, and an order form for the latest Kiss merchandise was eclipsed by the set of 18 temporary tattoos. Even these made it to the remastered CD twenty years later, small compensation for a double-disc set that could have fit on a single by several minutes. At least the new liner notes copped to Ace’s absence on side four.

Kiss Alive II (1977)—3

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