Thursday, October 25, 2012

159. Alive! Sort of livish

Album: Alive!
Artist: KISS
Genre: Metal
Year: 1975


1. Deuce
2. Strutter
3. Got to Choose
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Firehouse
6. Nothin' to Lose
7. C'mon and Love Me
8. Parasite
9. She
10. Watchin' You
11. 100,000 Years
12. Black Diamond
13. Rock Bottom
14. Cold Gin
15. Rock and Roll All Nite
16. Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll

A few years ago when I was in the early stages of this blog I wrote about Destroyer by KISS. I had memories of not being very complimentary and having read it again I've relived the experience. I claimed in that review that I had to stop walking because I was laughing so hard and to this day I can still pinpoint the exact location of that giggling fit on a map. I couldn't take it seriously at all.

Alive! was the band's earlier attempt to turn them from an underground band into a mainstream success by replicating their dynamic and explosive live show on four sides of vinyl. You might have thought this was a big ask considering Kiss Koncerts were known as much for pyrotechnics, make up and general onstage shenanigans than for the actual music. The only way a fan could hope to truly replicate a concert experience was to play the album loud while surrounded by burning clowns.

Nevertheless the record company decided a double album might bring in the cash so they set up microphones and tried to capture the sound of a live show. They captured the band in their full sweaty glory and then took the tapes back to the studio to mix them.

And it's here that they encountered a slight snag. Apparently when you separated the musical performance from the stage antics and atmosphere it revealed a few errors: some musical misteps, tuning issues, rhythmic anomalies and a general inability to reproduce the songs in a live setting. The audience didn't notice because they were too busy making noise and enjoying fireworks but when the only focus was the sound it was clear that the music needed some help.

And so the band came into the studio and re-recorded their parts and fixed everything up. They basically recorded a studio album that they then overdubbed audience noise onto which was then tweaked and mixed. It's not a document of their concert as much as it's a studio reproduction of their setlist and it's painfully obvious when you listen with earphones.

Alive! is an album of big shouty rock and roll for fans of a big shouty rock and roll band. It's a slick and polished "live" album by a band who put on a slick and polished live show. If you went to their shows and shouted your approval then it was a good souvenir document. If you want a good live album that captures the true energy of a live concert then this isn't it. Alive! is as real as the cover photo which  looks like the band onstage but is clearly posed and staged just for the camera. It's as bad as Destroyer but not redeemingly hilarious which is a pity because it's impossible to take seriously.

Highlight: I just wanna rock and roll all nite! (big and dumb but the best big and dumb song on the album)
Lowlight: Parasite

Influenced by: Alice Cooper
Influenced: XJapan

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This is a complete mystery to me, but just in case this happens to anyone else; I unwrapped the cd case and opened it up to only find one disc (disc 1). I've taken it completely apart and spent an hour looking all around where I was sitting as I opened it."

-An hour? Unless you were sitting on a stack of loose CD's that seems like a long time to search.

So is this live brilliance or studio drudgery? Let me know below

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