Anyone who seriously thinks this is a true “live” recording should take a look at the “Kissology” DVD’s to hear what they really sounded like. They were limited by two key factors: 1) the outlandish outfits they wore, and 2) Ace Frehley’s well documented excessive drinking. Under the cricumstances, it was inevitable that their live performances would sometimes suffer. (Gene also occasionally forgot his lyrics, distracted no doubt by his compulsory tongue-waggling and his lewd designs on the female fans). Watch “Shout It Out Loud” from the bonus disc on Kissology Vol. 1 for all the proof you need. (Gene repeats his verse, and Ace completely forgets where he is and botches the entire solo)
In keeping with their market-driven mentality, the band knew that a pure warts-and-all live album was not what they (and Casablanca Records, which was facing bankruptcy at the time) needed to score their first big hit record. So, they did what a lot of bands have done – they cleaned up the live recordings, editing out bad notes, dropped drumsticks, missed chords, etc., cleaning up the lead and background vocals and dressing the whole thing in wash of crowd roar that borders on white noise at times.
Dishonest? Perhaps. Effective? Absolutely. For all intents and purposes, this is a greatest hits collection from their first three albums (although I wish they’d included “Room Service”), and pretty much every version on “Alive!” blows the original away. “Rock Bottom” and “Rock And Roll All Night” really benefit from added lead guitar.
This album put Kiss on the map for good, and it still holds up as a great party album and a great rock and roll album more than thirty years later. 5 stars