REVIEW: KISS – The Ritz On Fire (2013)

NEW RELEASE

KISS – The Ritz On Fire (2013 Gold Fish, recorded 1988)

This is hard to get. I got mine via eBay; Scott the Scot found his locally. Fandom went into panic mode when all Amazon pre-orders were abruptly cancelled. We all figured that Kiss’ lawyers stopped its release. It had still made it to the manufacturing stage, and enough copies have surfaced on the market that it is already a collectible that can be afforded.

If you love that poorly documented period that is late 80’s Kiss, you will love The Ritz On Fire. August 12, 1988, The Ritz, New York City. A radio broadcast, from the Crazy Nights tour. It’s not live album quality, but it’s a radio broadcast and therefore listenable. There are issues on some songs, such as “Love Gun” where Paul’s voice is too low in the mix while the drums remain more than audible. It’s such a joy to have a live recording with Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick that fans will be happy to overlook such defects.

It’s also cool to revisit some under-appreciated Kiss klassics: “Fits Like A Glove” from Lick It Up, “War Machine” from Creatures, and “Tears Are Falling” from Asylum are among the songs that are hard to find in live form. It’s also a pleasure to hear this lineup tackle Destroyer‘s “Shout It Out Loud” which was rarely performed back then.

MVP: No disprect to the late Eric Carr intended, but Bruce Kulick blows me away with his dexterity and diversity. His solos are highlights of every single song. He doesn’t emulate his predecessors, nor does he play inappropriately for the songs. Also worth mentioning is Paul Stanley. Once they get the vocal levels right, it’s a pleasure to hear Paul Stanley at his vocal peak singing live. The songs aren’t all downtuned like they are today, and some songs like “Crazy Crazy Nights” are really up there.

Eric Carr…he had his own style, and after hearing Eric Singer ably fill his shoes for so long now, we can be reminded how Eric Carr played them. He had his own signature drum rolls, and of course that unmistakable raspy voice on “Black Diamond”. Nobody was confusing Eric Carr with Peter Criss, on the drums or on the microphone; Eric’s rasp was completely different from Peter’s. He was almost a cross between Criss and Simmons.

Best of all, this is really live. We saw Kiss “singing” to backing tapes at Dodger Stadium on Saturday January 25 on national television. Meanwhile, Paul wasn’t actually singing anything at all. Not so on The Ritz On Fire. Yes, keyboardist Gary Corbett was backstage sweetening the sound and adding backing vocals, but they were live. The Ritz On Fire is all the stronger for it.

4.5/5 stars

RITZ ON FIRE_0002

More KISS at mikeladano.com:

Complete KISS reviews + Complete ACE FREHLEY reviews 

PETER CRISSCriss EP review + GENE SIMMONSAsshole review

Record Store Tales Part 3:  My First KISS + Part 8:  You Wanted the Best +
Part 77:  Psycho-Circus Part 151:  24kt KISS…cheap at twice the price +
Part 152:  Carnival of Lost Souls Part 173:  Gene Simmons’ Asylum Demos 
Part 179: Phantom of the Opera Part 241:  Halloween, KISS style!

66 comments

  1. This is a great show. For some reason whenever Kiss went back and played clubs they put on monster performances (Revenge Club tour for example). Always have a soft spot for the CN era as this was my entry into Kiss and this boot is a great document of the time.

    I’m not sure why folks are panicking about getting a copy of this. I’ve had it for about 2 years in MP3 format, it’s been available for a long time online.

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    1. I have a live bootleg from the Revenge club tour. Like the 2nd or 3rd show. It’s better than Alive III by a long shot!

      The panic over this is about the physical copies. A lot of us really prefer physical to mp3. When these started disappearing off the internet, it because very very hard to buy a physical copy. Prices are starting to come down now.

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        1. I agree John, 100%. I have several from that period including a 2 CD Beuns Aires. I also have a great 2 CD Aussie bootleg of the 1995 Konvention gig. Just great stuff!

          I love hearing the crowd. On my club tour CD, as soon as Gene plays the opening note of 100,000 years, you can hear a fan saying “I cannot believe it! I cannot fucking believe it!” He was excited.

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  2. I’ve been totally loving this show. It’s fantastic, great set list and the band is cooking (almost literally – by the sounds of it, it was pretty warm in there!)

    I think that the vid of this show was one of the KISSOLOGY 2 bonus DVDs (not sure if it was the BestBuy version or whatever…) so I might want to track that down. Like George B says Reason To Live was played at the show but doesn’t appear on this CD for some reason. Does anyone know if other songs were left out?

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      1. I still see them on eBay and Amazon. Not too expensive but maybe it depends what ones your after. I’ve got 2 copies of KISSOLOGY 1 and 2 with different bonus discs so I already have some at least. I think I’m probably content with the audio of the Ritz show though. Not sure the visuals would add much… and it’s probably on youtube anyway.

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        1. Is there a good way to tell in advance what bonus disc you’re getting? I checked mine and it’s Budokan 88 — same as everybody else I know. Actually that’s another one that I also own on CD.

          You know me Scott, I always prefer a CD version to a DVD.

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        2. I bought them on EBay where the bonus discs are usually listed. I suppose it’s not that big a deal if you have the audio. I just particularly wanted the Largo show from the Dynasty tour for the live versions of solo album songs… But, even then most of those are on the KISS My Ass DVD so it’s not a huge deal.

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        3. Yeah I think 2 or 3 are on Kiss My Ass, and You Wanted the Best has New York Groove on the vinyl. I think Kiss really did an impressive series with the Kissology’s, bonus DVD idea included. WHERE’S 4??

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    1. You sure Reason To Liove was played? I remember reading a review of that show in a Swedish magazine back then and there was no mention of that song. I remember that specificly as I have always hated that tune and I was so pleased to hear that they weren’t playing it live.
      Of course it showed up in the set on their real Crazy Nights tour anyway. With Bruce Kulick playing keyboards…

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      1. Hey Jon, it was definitely played. If you check youtube there’s fan-filmed footage of the show and it was played… with Bruce’s famous keyboards! The audio quality is still pretty good so I’m not sure if it’s the same soundboard recording or not. I wonder if they maybe just had to cut a song out to fit the schedule of the radio station?

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  3. I always wanted a decent copy of the Largo Maryland Dynasty tour(as that was my first time seeing em) I know it’s on youtube but I wish I woulda got it with Kissology….

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    1. I didn’t get it either. I think no matter where you were in Canada you got the same bonus CD. Our Best Buy didn’t get the Best Buy exclusive disc either — that was in the US only.

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  4. Second class citizens???…..actually Mike where can u pick,the audio of this ritz cd?
    The more I look at your review with the set list the more I like!!

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        1. I found it. Trying to dl it, but no seeders. Stopped at 10%. Found the DVD as well. It stopped at 34%. I’m gonna re-try tomorrow.

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        2. Ok. You’re right.
          I never downloaded anything at all. Never even seen this online. I was just kidding…

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  5. I want that CD. No, I NEED that CD. Or whatever, I’ll start with a mp3 if I can find one, but I’d prefer the CD. I didn’t even know it was avaliable until now. Damn.

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    1. Jon if you want the scoops on stuff like this, check out Mitch Lafon’s Facebook. He’s a mad collector and he’s always posting crazy stuff like this. I bought the two Blackjack albums (Kulick) thanks to him.

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      1. I recognize that name, Mitch Lafon. Remind me who is, please.
        I’m really not that big on bootlegs, really, but this is a gig I have wanted to hear / see since I’ve read about it back in ’88.
        I would also love to get my hands on the Paul Stanley solo tour he made back in 1989, I think. When he first recruited Eric Singer. I know that there are both audio and video bootlegs of it.

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        1. I was just telling Deke last week — I had an audio bootleg of a 1989 Paul Stanley show, but it was a cassette. But what was funny is that I thought for years that the keyboard player was named “Gary Carpet” because that’s what it sounds like when Paul introduces him. Now I know he is Gary Corbett, not carpet!

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  6. Just listened to half of it…love the warts n all rawness to it..Gene skipping lyrics or forgetting..ie Love It Loud….all in all good stuff

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  7. Actually the copy I got has Reason To Live..hahaha….don’t know if it’s a good thing..hahaha…Stanley wanting to join Heart on that on along with My Way….

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  8. Yep Bang Bang is on there as well…..must be different versions floating out there….
    Better than Alive 3 in my book cuz uhhh it’s Live!

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    1. Yeah Alive III didn’t even sound live, the crowd noise sounds overdubbed, a lot of the vocals…in that regard very disappointing. I don’t know why Kiss can’t release an unaltered live recording. MTV Unplugged was 100% live and I know because I have the 4 hour raw recording session.

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      1. Lots of Alive III was recorded during rehersals and soundchecks with overdubbed audience all over it. I know that I Was Made For Loving You was recorded during a soundcheck.

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  9. Actually I know a few yrs ago they did the live downloads from the sonic boom tour….they sounded good….it’s kinda funny cuz the 3 alive releases are not really Live releases……
    Dunno what the deal was but man the Ritz is the deal!

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  10. I listened to to the rest of the Ritz on the way home from work and man $immon$ is hiliarious missing all kinds of lyrics ….classic stuff thats probably why I’m digging it so much cuz like u said Alive 3 with all the dubbing kinda blew and I knew it and I bought it…but it was too processed for a live album but the songs are crunchier than the studio versions that’s probably why I actually liked Alive 3 but now The Rirz is my Alive 3 …..

    Ramble ramble man……that’s what ya can call me!

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  11. I found this online. So I downloaded it. Big deal, Gene Simmons wasn’t gonna make any money on it anyway, I guess, as it is a bootleg.
    Have listened to CD 1 so far and it spounds really good. Also, it looks like Reason To Live is on my version. Dunno if that is a good thing, though…

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