REVIEW: KISS – MTV Unplugged (and a word about the Konvention Tour)

Part 34 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!

KISS:  MTV Unplugged (1996)

Kiss had been releasing a lot of product (KISStory the book, a live video and album, and a tribute CD) but not a lot of new music since Revenge.  In ’95 they decided to go out and do an “official” Kiss Kovention tour, charging a then-insane $100 a pop, but giving you an acoustic performance for your dollars.

The Konvention tour yielded some great performances, with Kiss taking requests for songs they barely remember and doing their best to play them.  “Lover Her All I Can”, “Shandi”, and “Nothin’ To Lose” with Eric Singer on lead vocals were all rolled out.  See below for a cool bootleg CD and tracklist from an Australian show on the tour.

              

Kiss were invited to do MTV Unplugged.  What the audience that night didn’t know is that after a full set by Paul, Gene, Bruce and Eric, two “members of the family” would come out:  Peter Criss and Ace Frehley.  They were greeted with disbelief and joy.

The evening began with the current Kiss, rolling out rarely played classics like “Comin’ Home”, “Got To Choose” (on the Japanese release, anyway) and “A World Without Hereos”.  They even tackled “See You Tonite” from Gene’s solo album, and “Every Time I Look At You” (with strings) from Revenge:  both firsts.

You can’t complain at all about the tracklist on MTV Unplugged.  I raved about the album then, and I still rave about it now.  I don’t understand why this wasn’t a massive smash hit across the board.  This is a great Kiss album that almost anyone can enjoy.  From Paul’s stirring vocal on “I Still Love You” to the classic “Rock Bottom”, this is awesome all the way through.

But of course, they saved Ace and Peter for the end.  Out they came to do two of their signature songs:  “Beth” for Peter, and the Stones’ “2000 Man” for Ace.  Last but not least, Bruce and Eric returned to the stage to form a formidable 6-man Kiss lineup.  With everyone but Bruce taking a turn at the lead vocals, they rolled out “Nothin’ To Lose” and of course “Rock and Roll All Nite” to end the show.

Expertly recorded and mixed, my only beef is the cutting short of some of Paul’s raps.  I would love a two disc deluxe edition of this one day.  Kiss played for three hours that day, doing multiple takes and playing songs that didn’t make the show:  “Spit”, “Hard Luck Woman” with Paul on lead vocals, and a country version of “God of Thunder”!

5/5 stars

 

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3 comments

  1. LOVE this album. I was really moved by it, such a warm-spirited, fun performance and the thrilling return of Ace and Peter! Some of the tracks on here I think are the definitive performances of these songs. It doesn’t get enough recognition as a great Unplugged show like the Nirvana one did, for example, but KISS were and are always underestimated. A deluxe edition with restored raps and songs is a great idea!

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  2. I always meant to buy this and never did. Now your passionate, excellent review makes me want it again. Imagine, a 6-man KISS barrage! Weird. Well, someday maybe I’ll get one. On my current ‘salary,’ I gotta watch the dollars. Or, at least, explain them. ;)

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  3. I wish I hung on to my domestic version to give to you!

    If you can ever find a bootleg video of the entire 3 hour taping, it’s worth it. Gene can’t remember the words to his songs half the time…even the one from his solo album :)

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