Part 31 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!
KISS – Alive III (1993)
I like Alive III, but I don’t think any fan can say it’s as good or better than I or II. How could it be? Artificial or not, Kiss Alive! is one of the greatest live albums of all time. Alive II was a contender. Alive III simply could not live up to either.
If it didn’t sell well, I don’t particularly blame Kiss. It was the summer of “live albums”. Van Halen, Ozzy Osbourne, and Iron Maiden all had double live discs out that summer, and that’s a lot of money to be spent by the devoted rock fan.
Although the first two Alives avoided song overlap, Alive III does contain some old Kiss songs that were previously played on one of the first two:
- “Detroit Rock City”
- “Rock And Roll All Night”
- “Watchin’ You” (given a funkier touch here by Bruce)
Everything else is a more recent vintage, and rightfully so. Kiss hadn’t done a live album in 16 years at this point, so there were lots of new songs to play. “Creatures Of The Night” had been a setlist staple for ten years at this point.
Performance wise, this is really good. With Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer in the band, Kiss had evolved to a sleeker machine. The songs were played much more expertly, and not as loose. A critic would use the word “mechanically” but it’s just different, and a matter of taste. Bruce Kulick at this point was not playing his solos with as much 80’s trickery, and was now much more suited to playing Ace Frehley’s songs. Eric Singer seemed to master a nice middle ground between Peter Criss and Eric Carr’s styles. He is in fact my favourite Kiss drummer because of his creativity on the kit.
All songs are sung by Gene and Paul, although Eric sings very nice backups. There is one instrumental, Bruce Kulick’s guitar showcase on the “Star Spangled Banner”, never recorded by Kiss in studio form!
On the negative side, I don’t like the production, once again by Eddie Kramer who also helmed the first two. It sounds too polished. The audience sounds artificial, pasted on. When Paul raps, the audience just screams through, there’s no reaction.
Interestingly, there are a total of five songs from Revenge (including the Japanese/vinyl bonus track “Take It Off”). That shows how strong the new material was, and why there aren’t more Kiss oldies. It is a shame that today Kiss doesn’t sprinkle that much new material into setlists.
A point of trivia, at one point the inclusion of a brand new studio song called “Carnival Of Souls” was discussed. It was finally released a decade later on Gene’s solo album, Asshole. So this is the time period from which that song originated. Astute fans will recognize it as the title of an eventual studio album.
A Gene song was even selected as the first and only single: “I Love It Loud”. Personally I feel that even Eric Singer can’t play this song like Eric Carr did. And it’s way too overplayed now.
Alive III is not as essential as the first two, but if you pick up the Alive Box, which is the route I stronly suggest you take, you’ll get them all (with the exception of the symphonic Alive). Listening to I, II and III in a row will reveal growth and a strong catalogue of songs not immediately noticeable otherwise.
With the long-awaited Alive III now behind them, Kiss began work on a number of new projects, including their own tribute album, a studio album to be called Head, and an acoustic “konvention” tour. Check this space again for all that and more.