“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.
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.
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!