REVIEW: KISS – Greatest Live Hits (2015)

NEW RELEASE

Scan_20151212 (2)KISS – Greatest Live Hits (2015 Concert Live limited edition)

“What’s this?”, you ask with scorn.  “Just another Kiss hits/live thing, is it?”

Yes and no.

Concert Live is a great company that records and releases “instant live” albums from major artists like Kiss and Alice Cooper among many.  You can buy them immediately after the concert, or online as I have.  Kiss have a lot of Concert Live releases.  I have three, all from the Sonic Boom tour:  Montreal, Saskatoon, and Atlanta.  They are live, not overdubbed, raw and real.  And expensive!  So when Concert Live announced they were releasing a Greatest Live Hits CD from these concerts, I clicked the “add to cart” button immediately.  The original order claimed there were only 200 copies available, but you can now get it from Concert Live as a part of a multi-album box set.

This 2 disc collection has all the classic hits (nothing more recent than ’83) from a variety shows from different nations.  There are three tracks of Kiss from the Download Festival, in 2008.  Paul’s voice is surprisingly strong, and the reason why is because they are from seven years ago.  There is no booklet with details, so only the location of the recordings is obvious from the packaging.  It is true that Eric Singer covers for Paul when his voice cracks or he cannot hit the note anymore.  Concert Live seemed to focus on the best versions they could find of these particular tracks, so you get a high ratio of good-to-bad Paul performances.

Below are the recording details, courtesy of rock journalist Mitch Lafon.  He suggests re-ordering the tunes to create an actual Kiss setlist.

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At this stage, with so many Kiss live packages on the market, there’s no point in discussing specifics.  The recordings sound as you have come to expect from Concert Live.  Warts and all, but with sonic care and clarity, these are true live albums.  When Gene has to suddenly sing in a lower key in “Rock and Roll all Night”, that’s in there.  This is the kind of thing that drives casual music fans up the wall.  I actually know people who can’t stand live music because of such realities.  I find it hard to understand because that is a real moment captured in time, and it’s just a moment.  The song does not derail and Gene soon returns to the original key.

Random observations:

1. When “Strutter” begins, the first second sounds uncannily like “Hide Your Heart” and it always takes me by surprise!

2. It’s nice to get “Rock and Roll all Night” out of the way early, but “I Love It Loud” as a closer?  That’s a weird way to end an album: on a sluggish, way overplayed note!

3. On “Let Me Go Rock and Roll”, Eric Singer tries to do his version of Peter Criss’s shtick, talking to the crowd in the cool-cat voice.  Unfortunately I find this to sound contrived and awkward for the new Cat Man, Eric.

4. Tommy Thayer haters can suck it.  He’s playing the style Paul and Gene want him to play, and he does his job perfectly.  This is the Kiss sound they have gone for, a classic Frehley guitar sound, and Tommy Thayer’s the man for that job so long as the Ace Man isn’t.

I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of this disc.  A few more concert details would have been nice, and some of the edits between tracks aren’t so great, but this is a worthwhile buy for any fan of the present day Kiss!

 

3.5/5 stars

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25 comments

  1. Great review Mike. I like both the untouched soundboard feeds and the “pro” released ones. Interestingly, Metallica have been doing this for over a decade with their LiveMetallica website. I have a few of the Rock The Nation shows and they sound great!

    And at the risk of angering the Kiss Army… Tommy Thayer is a fantastic guitarist. He can ape Ace and he can play his own style (which is heavily Ace-influenced anyway). He’s the perfect fit for Kiss and does the job he’s asked to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John, every time I get an email from LiveMetallica, I want to break the bank. And they do CDs now too, perfect for a guy like me.

      Tommy is very talented. Sometimes bands no longer want to work with certain members. I think it’s kind of a mutual thing with Kiss and Ace.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike I really enjoy these posts where the author is writing about their favourite band, yet still managing to be objective.
    Present day Kiss is not 1975 Kiss and I appreciate that you appreciate this sort of recording for what it is, not looking for them to recreate the past.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 200 copies? Who do they think they are, Robert Pollard? Haha. Man I hope this post finds its way to the KISS nation, as a cool (relatively rare) release like this reviewed with aplomb by you would set them all atwitter and excited! Of course, the band didn’t need another live record, but at this point, no one can pretend to be surprised!

    As for the live sound thing, I agree with Rollins: live is The Only Way To Know For Sure. Oh man that live album of his STOMPS, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have the Montreal Sonic Boom and it’s awesome as Mike alluded to! Great story Mike and quick clicking as well! Be Click Or Be Dead! Ha! Cool score for only 200 copies being printed! The track listing is real good as well the songs that is and I would perfer this over another studio Greatest Hits set! Hahaha….don’t get me started! Ha!
    Great Sunday am story……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOOOOVE when the Montreal fans BOOO any time Paul mentions another Canadian city. Love that stuff!

      Yeah I don’t mind live releases like this, especially when they are semi-official and aimed at collectors like me.

      Like

  5. Nice post Mike, but I still feel that Gene and co are exploiting you! They should have given up for good after recording ‘Let’s Put the ‘X’ in Sex’ – neither they, nor any other artist of that century was going to be able to top that one.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I find it fascinating that KISS is still touring after all these years. One of my co-workers is a massive fan and never misses a KISS concert (or an AC/DC one) – his first KISS show was in the early 80s. I can’t think of a band that is my equivalent. I guess U2 comes closest but it seems different somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The first thing I thought of was the Metallica live releases as well. It is surprising more bands don’t do this. If they released the live recordings themselves, they could control the content, and make all of the money. Concert Live wouldn’t be too happy about it though. You mentioned Paul’s voice. How is Gene’s voice on this one?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gene’s fine. He’s pretty solid.

      Yeah Kiss could easily do a cottage industry of live CDs, like Pearl Jam do. But I guess they decided to leave that up to Concert Live. I’m sure Gene negotiated favourable terms.

      Like

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