#159 on Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time list
Lunchboxes, action figures and posters are one thing, but credit cards, coffins and their own army? Only one band can be this ridiculously shameless to whore their name out to so much crappy merchandise. And if you haven't guessed which band yet, you probably don't go to a normal kid's school. Kiss are pretty much an average 70s rock band, if anything less than average, in terms of music. But on stage, they put on a hell of a show. Before Alive!
, Kiss were barely selling records, hardly enough to pay the bills for their outlandish makeup. Releasing a live album for a hardly known band was a big enough stretch for their careers, but a double one? Well they pulled it off, finally capturing the all around excitement of Kiss, selling millions of copies and kicking off a long career of making music, selling out and pissing off Christian mothers (Knights In Satan's Service, anyone?) But like tight pants, Dukes of Hazard and cocaine, Alive!
may have been big in the 70s, but it's not all itís all that great. In other words, WARNING: I am about to commit several acts of rock music blasphemy
would've worked better as some kind of video, because you want the whole show, right? Kiss are freak drag queens... I mean performers first, and musicians second. Musically, lead guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss are the two musicians in the band capable of more than the basic stuff. I don't know about rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, but the main reason lead singer/bassist never became a better bassist is because his hands, among other things, were always busy... over 3000 women, eh Gene? In terms of song writing, I don't know who's to blame, but the lyrics are piss poor. Strutter
and Hotter than Hell
all sound like a vague combination of each other. The lyrics are either about some kind of woman, partying/having fun, or rock 'n' roll. But hey, what's new
in 70s rock lyrics?
Now that I think about it, there was really no point of making this a double album. The first disc all sounds the same. Every song on the first disc follows that ever popular intro riff-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo etcetera formula, the fact that nearly every chorus is entirely interchangeable with another makes it even worse. Ace's bland soloing tone gets tiring after a while, you'd think he'd put effort into making his solos sound different, instead of doing it for the sake of being a pompous rock star that can play fast. So I guess they are responsible for that horrible 80s supposed metal. Ironically, the solos are really the only interesting part of the songs musically, as the listener hears riff after riff of blandness dished out at them at an energetic level. But I have a weak spot for them, I suppose... because they're catchy, the music listener's ultimate weakness. Though I complained about Strutter, it's incredibly catchy, and it was sampled by Sonic Youth for their insane song Master-Dik
. Other songs fall flat, either sounding like each other, or having a weak melody, melody being the only thing they can fall back on.
The second disc basically saves the entire thing from being a disappointment, making Alive!
a fairly decent live album. The songs become more interesting, Black Diamond
and Rock Bottom
both start with noteworthy, or at least different from the other songs, riffs (unfortunately both intros sound too alike). Black Diamond definitely has a more serious tone to it, perhaps the only serious tone in the whole album, but still maintaining the crude formula of the album. Frehley's solo actually sounds different! As if he were being... dare I say, creative! Overall, not as many songs on the second disc follow the cookie-cut formula of the first disc. Including an extensive drum solo while Gene Simmons delivers some stage banter: Who here likes alcohol/who here likes to rock 'n' roll
and whatnot. And if one didn't notice before, he/she probably would now, that Alive!
was heavily edited. Or whoever recorded this concert did an incredible job at it. Which is not the case, as it's been admitted already that Alive!
has some weight under it. The slick, clear sound of the instruments, the audience magically becomes louder or quieter in various parts of the album. And of course, how can I can forget the ever classic Rock 'n' Roll All Nite
. I'll tell you how I can forget. If it weren't for the rock loving lyrics, the song wouldnít be famous. Why? Because besides the catchy chorus, itís a boring piece of crap! There I said it. Ah but even one as cynical towards the song as I cannot deny the energy and fun of the song when I hear it on this album. And that really is the point of Alive!
isn't it? To capture the fun and excitement that Kiss makes live, and that Kiss failed to capture. So naturally, Kiss being exploitive and shameless, three more "Alive" records were released. Meh.
I certainly think this album and Kiss are nothing more than average, but I can understand why a 40 year old of today still screams out loud when a Kiss song comes on the radio. No, not because they're freaks, because they loved the fact that Kiss were only about partying and whatnot. I guess they never realized how much Kiss actually sucked. So unless you like putting on an album and don't care what the music quality is as long as it's loud rock music, buy all means buy this... and a keg of beer I suppose. Alive!
, despite it's mediocrity in quite a bit of areas (and not being that "live"), delivers some memorable classic rock anthems.
Alive!----------------------> 2.5 stars