KISS – Kissin’ Time in San Fransisco (1974 or 1975 bootleg , Black Diamond Records 1994)
Early Kiss, live Kiss at least, was the best! They were young hungry punks, a garage band in makeup and heels, playing with an intensity that they never equaled even on later triumphs like Kiss Alive! or Love Gun. It was a ferocity on stage, made doubly impressive when you remember that they were weighed down by those costumes.
This widely available bootleg recording showcases exactly what early Kiss was about. Recorded shortly after the release of their second album, Hotter Than Hell, it actually sounds pretty good for 1974 or 75. You may be familiar with some of these recordings. “Deuce” for example was on the Kiss eXposed video. “Parasite” was later made available on the Kiss My Ass VHS and DVD.
What’s astounding here is just how good Peter Criss used to be. I don’t mean technically. I mean in that way that a good rock drummer just slams you in the guts and doesn’t let up. Peter Criss plays like a savage. The two best moments are “Watchin’ You” and “Parasite”. He absolutely demolishes his kit, he’s relentless, and it’s so damn fun to listen to him, young and powerful, laying waste.
Gene’s bass is very loud in the mix, and while Gene was also no virtuoso, it’s nice to hear his compositional abilities on bass. Especially in early Kiss, Gene wrote and played some very cool basslines, melodic and solid. It’s a side of Kiss that is often ignored by the critics. Gene was heavily influenced by bands like Cream and I think you can hear that.
The setlist is pretty standard, with every song later getting showcased on the aforementioned Kiss Alive! These versions are without the spit n’ polish that Eddie Kramer put on that disc, live as it was on that night. In a lot of ways, I prefer these versions. What they lack in audio fidelity, they make up for in sheer adrenaline and barbarism. Paul’s as confident as ever on stage. His stage raps are fully-formed and cocky. His “Do you believe in rock and roll?” rap is present on “100,000 Years”, with Peter Criss hammering out a consistently tribal backdrop.
The CD is padded out by a bunch of unrelated (and often misspelled) bonus tracks. “A World Without Heros” is an instrument demo from The Elder, widely circulated. So is “The Difference Between Men & Boys”, which can be found under different names. “Young and Wasted” is a Lick It Up demo (not from 1971 as stated on the back, who are we kidding?). Lastly, “(We Want To) Shout It Out Loud” is from the Wicked Lester album.