Part 9 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!
Produced once again by Eddie Kramer, this is taken from multiple shows in 1977, plus 5 studio tracks. The crowd noise (probably from the Japanese shows) is a bit shrill and the overdubbing of Paul Stanley’s voice is much more noticeable than it was on the first Alive.
The problem that Kiss had in Alive II was to avoid repeating any songs from Alive!, which was only two years prior. That resulted in a truncated tracklist, and then Simmons had the idea to tack on a fourth side of studio material. He says this was inspired by the ZZ Top album, Fandango! That idea turned out to be pretty smart, as the five new songs are by and large very decent.
Two other songs were recorded at rehearsals or soundchecks: “Tomorrow And Tonight”, and “Hard Luck Woman”. Crowd noise was overdubbed and the songs sweetened in the studio.
Once again, it is hard to argue with the track selection on Alive II. There are very few songs I would have excluded in favour of others. The concert opens with the double salvo of “Detroit” and “King of the Night Time World”. “God of Thunder” is played at a faster tempo and I generally prefer this version to the original. Ace’s “Shock Me” is here, and Peter Criss sings on “Hard Luck Woman” and of course “Beth” (sung to backing tapes as always).
Ace also had a lead vocal on “Rocket Ride”, one of the new songs. Let’s talk about those a bit.
“All American Man”: I like the riff a lot, and I find this to be one of Paul’s coolest songs. I have also felt it had a similar vibe to the stuff they’d later record for Killers, 4 years down the road. But who’s that on lead guitar? Bob Kulick. Kulick replaced Ace Frehley on lead guitar, on four of the five studio tracks on Alive II!.
“Larger Than Life”: A Gene plodder. Another pretty strong one. I think you can guess what he’s singing about in the title.
“Rockin’ In The USA”: Gene loves the USA which has given him so much. The lyrics are pretty bad, but it’s basically Gene’s love song to America, much like the Beach Boys had done.
“Rocket Ride”: Ace’s track. Ace plays all guitars and bass, Peter Criss plays drums, and the other two only contribute vocals. An Ace classic which later appeared on his solo Live + 1 EP.
“Anyway You Want It”: I have a soft spot for Kiss covers like this Dave Clark Five track. I think Kiss did a great job with it, particularly with the vocals. Paul plays all guitars.
I must stress, I think you should buy the Alive Box rather than this version. You’ll get four Alives, and some rarer tracks.
5/5 stars. Might not be very live, but it sure is very rock.
Paul Stanley must be a vocal genius. I mean, he do sing both lead and backingvocals on Love Gun and Makin’ Love – at the same time…
I do love this album as well, but as a producer, wouldn’t it have been better to have the other guys sing back-up on those songs? I mean, this is a live album after all.
I’m curious of Rocket Ride. I don’t think Peter plays the drums on it, I have heard that the song was done by Anton Fig and that it was his job there that landed him the drummer spot on Ace’s solo album. I could be wrong, but that is what I have heard.