Kiss Karton: The Klassic Vinyl Kollection 1974 – 1978
(Godfather Records GRBOX 07)
KISS Fans……You Wanted The Best and You Got It. The Hottest Box In The World ! When I first got a copy of the flyer for this new box set I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation. It promised to give the deluxe treatment to a number of Klassic Kiss Bootlegs and after close examination is exceeds all expectations and in my mind is THE BEST box set released by Godfathers thus far. The box itself has a great cover with all four members of the band, a detailed song breakdown on the rear and cool captions around the spine.
There is an excellent 16 booklet that has very accurate liner notes by one Vincent Cusano (Vinnie Vincent’s real name) and a slew of wonderful pictures and ticket stubs and concert posters. The are also 8 cards that feature the bootleg album covers, the old fashion kind where the LP’s were house in a white sleeve with a paper inserts.
The discs are broken into three sets of two and are all gatefold style sleeves with relevant pictures for each set, the picture in the center of the Takes Tokyo is similar to the ALIVE II record and is a favorite. But it is all about the musical content and this is where the fun begins, not only do we get the concerts themselves in best ever sound quality but the bonus songs are worth the price of admission, just look at the disc times.
Godfather gives us incredible value for the money and all praise must go their way, this is one of the most well thought out and produced box sets either officially or un officially that I own. This set should easily appeal to collectors everywhere and with the holidays around the corner this is a no brainier to recommend and I would suggest to get your copy while you can.
Fried Alive (Godfather Records GR BOX 07 A/B)
Disc 1 (79:33) Long Beach Auditorium Long Beach, Ca. USA May 31, 1974 KNAC Broadcast; Intro & Deuce, Nothing To Lose, She & Ace Frehley Solo, Firehouse, Strutter, 100,000 Years, Black Diamond, Baby, Let Me Go. The Parthenon Theatre Hammond, In. USA October 18, 1974; Firehouse, She & Ace Frehley Solo, 100,000 Years, Black Diamond, Let Me Go, Rock & Roll, Cold Gin
The Long Beach gig was originally released on vinyl as Fried Alive on Duck Records, Dragonfly Records, Idle Mind Production, and First Kiss in Long Island on Worlds Records and on compact disc as Alive Zero from YU 52. The source is a radio broadcast done by local radio station KNAC, the source tape is a very good soundboard with all instruments and vocals well balanced, in keeping with the spirit of the box set the CD starts off with the Dirty Harry intro of “Did he fire six shots…” as did the original vinyl release. The band was opening for Manfred Mann and Savoy Brown and at the sets conclusion the DJ says there is still time to get down to the venue to see the other acts.
The set list is comprised of songs from the debut record along with She, the Wicked Lester leftover, that would appear on Dressed to Kill and features the strongest material with the bands best opener Deuce leading things off. It is interesting to hear the early gigs, they tune the instruments between songs and you can hear Peter count in the beginning of Nothing To Lose and Paul greets the crowd “Long Beach…We’re KISS” .
There is a festive mood in the arena, the crowd is receptive to the band and you can hear loud air horns going off. She is slow and ponderous and the band delivery a heavy version of the song with excellent lead playing from Ace, the band gets into a groove and he solo’s over it in a very effective fashion and is much different to the solo we all know and love from ALIVE!.
Most of the songs have the slower tempo like the versions on the first record and the sound improves slightly during Strutter. Gene has a brief bass introduction to a brutal 100,000 Years and the introduction to Black Diamond has a almost melancholy feel to it. The last song, Baby Let Me Go is really Let Me Go, Rock And Roll and is slightly lesser in quality.
The Hammond gig was recently released on vinyl as 9TeenSventy4 on The Swinging Pig records and Nothing To Lose and Parasite from this recording and show can be found on Drive You Crazy on Godfatherecords G.R 554. The bonus tracks here feature the rest of the know recording, an excellent soundboard from very early on the tour to support Hotter Than Hell and it looks like the second part of the bands set. As with the previous show the band’s playing is aggressive and confident sounding, She is heavy and Ace is starting to expand his solo with familiar passages and 100,000 Years features a drum solo.
Paul clearly says Hammond during his Do you believe in rock and roll rap, the recording is a bare bones and the audience is faintly heard clapping along. The band is making an impact and you can clearly hear the audience again feverishly clapping for the band as they let go with a rollicking Let Me Go, Rock And Roll.
Disc 2 (78:46) Calderone Concert Hall Hempstead, NJ. USA August 23, 1975; Intro, Deuce, Strutter, Got To Choose, Hotter Than Hell, Firehouse, She, Solo Ace Frehley, Nothing To Lose, C’Mon and Love Me, Solo Gene Simmons, 100,000 Years, Solo Peter Criss / 100,000 Years ~cont~ Black Diamond, Cold Gin, Rock And Roll All Nite, Let Me go, Rock And Roll. Fremd High School Gymnasium Palatine, IL. USA April 19, 1975; Room Service. The Bayou, Georgetown Washington D.C. USA Match 25, 1974 (Evening show); Love Theme From KISS
The bulk of the second disc is made up of the Hempstead NJ show from 75, released on vinyl as Second KISS in Long Beach on World Records and surprisingly makes its debut on silver CD on this set. It is an very good near excellent slightly distant recording that captures the band really hitting their stride after more than a year of almost constant touring. All instruments and vocals are perfectly balanced and is a recording that demands to be played loud.
The band had recorded several shows the previous month that would be issued as KISS ALIVE ! so this recording is very similar in performance with that record. The ALIVE ! record was reportedly heavily altered in the studio, listening to this one has to wonder how much. The band plays incredibly tight, they plow through the opening of Deuce and Strutter with ease.
Got To Choose has always been a favorite of mine and, as with many of their songs, is better live. ” This is off Dressed to Kill, its something a little slower its something a lot heavier its called She”….is Paul’s intro and an obvious understatement. The song has a great groove, Ace is in top form and his first solo he seems to wring it out some fast and furious notes but is just getting ready for his main solo spot.
The distance between the recorder and band really comes into play hear and you can appreciate not only his playing but the effects he utilizes. After the songs conclusion there is a audience member who shouts out for Rock Bottom and the first thing that came to mind was UFO but the band go into a great Nothing To Lose, Peter sings the hell out of it, simple but very effective. Paul tells the audience that there is plenty of room down front and the band play arguably one of their better songs, Cmon And Love Me, the song has a great lyric and Ace nails the solos.
There are two songs that never fail to get me going, the first is She and the second is 100,000 Years, tonight the latter is played at an almost marshall tempo and begins with the Gene bass solo and blood spitting. The tempo is fast and furious and leads into a greater Peter Criss solo who keep a non stop pace, he even throws cowbell in for good measure before Paul goes into a long “Believe in Rock and Roll rap”.
He hits all the bases and has the crowd on their feet and clapping loudly, keep in mind Peter is drumming through out before the band slowly enters and destroys the audience. No time is wasted as the solemn opening chords of Black Diamond are begun and Paul’s opening line of “Out on the streets for a living” are greeted with a giant round of applause. The harmonizing vocals really shine during this version as does Ace’s solo playing, he is in top form and is just smoking the whole show.
This disc has a couple of great songs to close out the disc. The first is Room Service from Dressed To Kill and the recording is good to very good with a little bit of distortion but for the most part clear and very enjoyable and is from early on in the DTK tour. I am not sure how many live versions are out there but it is a great addition to this set. The second song is Love Theme from KISS, a song that was originally called Acrobat. It sounds like a small intimate style venue and Paul is in conversation with the crowd and is saying “I Think their drunk…I think their high…” and the band kick into the song. It is definitely a soundboard recording that is easily in the near excellent range for its age with just a slight amount of distortion but since there are few recordings in circulation. The instrumental features some nice bass lines from Gene and a nice fat riff but is short, just over two and a half minutes long before it fades out.
Blitz London (The Godfatherecords G.R. Box 07 C/D)
Disc 3 (79:19) Hammersmith Odeon London England May 16, 1676; Intro Duece, Strutter, Flaming Youth, Hotter Then Hell, Firehouse, She, Solo Ace Frehley, Nothing To Lose, Shout It Out Loud, Black Diamond, Detroit Rock City. San Diego Sports Arena, Sand Diego, Ca. USA February 27, 1976; Rock And Roll All Nite. L.A. Forum, Los Angeles, Ca. USA August 26, 1977; I Stole Your Love, Fire House, Love Gun, Hooligan, Christine Sixteen, Shock Me, Solo Ace Frehley, Calling Dr. Love
Originally released on vinyl as KISS Blitz London on Dragonfly Records and re issued on such labels as
Ruthless Rhymes, GLC Records, and Hot Tub records. Strangely enough it was never pressed onto CD until now. In the mid to late eighties I used to frequent record conventions and spend hours digging through the boxes of bootleg LP and dream of owning such titles.
There was one dealer who would transfer vinyl to cassette them sell a tape for five bucks,this is where I got my first taste of this concert (any many others). The source is a very good audience recording that is clear and very enjoyable with a good balance of instruments and vocals. There are some sound fluctuations through out but does not distract from the listening experience. Of course this is from the bands first trip to Europe and Godfathers second release from the tour, the first was the Nuits Parisiennes The Godfatherecords G.R. 662 from a week later in Paris.
From what I have read the band did not enjoy the tour and felt that the accommodations were poor and the band would not return to Europe for four years. If that is the case you would not know it, the band put on a tight, professional show full of energy and the commitment not to disappoint. “Alright London…You wanted the best and you got it……..KISS” is the opening, right before the announcer says KISS many in the audience say it for him in obvious anticipation.
The band storm the stage with the soon to be dropped combination of Deuce and Strutter, Ace is on target and his solo in Strutter is rock solid. The band are still using the ALIVE ! stage and costumes and have not fully integrated the Destroyer set up as they would for the US tour soon after the European jaunt. They have been playing most of the songs for a couple of years and they are honed to perfection so the highlights are the newer songs, the first of which is Flaming Youth.
“This is from Destroyer its called Flaming Youth ” is Paul’s intro, he gives a great howl during the opening riff and the song works very well, its hard to believe the band would not make it part of the regular set list. Again the background harmonized vocals give the song a fullness and this version is very nice indeed. It is also worth noting the difference between American audiences and the crowd in London.
The London crowd are total into it and follow the band but seem like they are there to watch and listen intently where American audiences are loud and boisterous and the experience of being there is as important as what is going on musically. One is not better than the other it just gives a different vibe as the London audience has done their homework and is ready for what they get.
Hotter Than Hell and firehouse work great together and the playing is effortless, the crowd roars its approval after the latter in awe of Gene’s fire breathing routine. She is always a welcome song and is on its last days in the set and again features Ace’s solo spot, its fast at the start but soon gives way for an echoed expansion of the ear drums as he reaches for the outer limits….his solo’s are much shorter than they would be in the next few years. Black Diamond is book ended by two new songs, the first is Shout It Out Loud.
Sounding very close in tempo to the recorded version on Destroyer its well played and received and since Rock And roll All Nite is not present it fills the anthem section well. Paul tells the crowd how rock and roll they are, the band is enjoying themselves and its obviously good vibes are surrounding the gig. The respond with a huge cheer as he introduced Detroit Rock City. The song is spot on and has a fresh feel to it and sounds very close to the recorded version, Ace and Paul’s harmonizing guitar solo is perfect and the songs ends with a crash sounding noise followed by a huge cheer from the audience.
Since that is all we have of the London show, we get the encore from earlier in the year on the ALIVE ! tour. The version of Rock And Roll All Nite is a distant but clear well balanced recording from San Diego the previous February. There is a small amount of hiss but it does not interfere with the music. The rest of the disc is made up from the last night of a three night run at the LA Forum in 1977, all of which were recorded for the ALIVE II record.
The audience recording is very good, slightly distant and sounds great, there is a minimal amount of audience noise directly around the taper, the audience sound loud and in heat for the band. Godfathers wisely chose to focus on the newer songs in the set, I Stole Your Love is a natural opener and get the crowd going, of course it takes little to get the capacity crowd in the mood. There are shouts and screams of “SIT DOWN” after Firehouse and the crowd sounds like caged animals, the band instantly hits them with Love Gun.
The song is indeed a power house live, its just a little more powerful live and Ace delivers a fatal shot in the form of a solo that gets a cheer from the audience. Paul announces Peter Criss who songs his song from Love Gun, Hooligan is an obvious ode to his teenage years. While not a personal favorite it cool to hear as it was only played on this tour. Christine sixteen is played a faster tempo than the official version but is still effective, the band nail the section where Gene almost raps the lyrics while the band harmonize with the chorus.
Paul thanks the LA crowd for three nights of support, their reward is Ace and Shock Me. The song is kinds like his coming out party for him, it established him as a equal to Paul and Gene. The song is well played and is a perfect vehicle for his solo spot. There is a loud explosion early in his solo, I was trying to figure put if it came from the stage is is from the audience. His solo is as much about the visual as it is a musical statement, the crowd cheers his smoking guitar and levitation and the notes echo in the hall….classic stuff.
Disc 4 (79:29) Anaheim Stadium Anaheim, Ca. USA August 20, 1976; Pre Show Announcements, Intro Detroit Rock City, King Of The Night Time World, Let Me Go, Rock And Roll, Strutter, Hotter Than Hell, Nothing To Lose, Cold Gin / Solo Ace Frehley, Shout It Out Loud, Do You Love Me ?, Solo Gene Simmons / God Of Thunder / Solo Peter Criss, Rock And Roll All Nite, Deuce, Firehouse, Black Diamond. Lafayette’s Music Room Memphis, Tn. USA April 19, 1974 WMC-FM-100 Broadcast; You’re Much Too Young. Music Hall Cleveland, Oh. USA June 21, 1975; Let Me Know. Mid South Coliseum Memphis, Tn. USA December 2, 1976; Strutter, Hard Luck Woman
The most famous night of the Destroyer tour, sometimes referred to as the Spirit Of 76 tour, was August 20 1976 as the band headlined a day long even at the Anaheim Stadium to 42,000 fans with support from Ted Nugent and Bob Seger. The concert was recorded by some enterprising audience members and was eventually bootlegged under the title KISS Destroys Anaheim, a single LP release on labels such as Dragonfly Records, Canyon Records and Idle Minds and spawned a slew of re issues and colored vinyl sets.
The rest of the show was eventually pressed as Destroys Anaheim Part 2 and eventually two record sets with the complete show. The concert has had CD releases under titles Cold Gin (Black Cat Records) Unnecessary Evil (Deep Records) and Unauthorized Vol. 2 (Joker Prod.). Because of the nature of the event large video screens were employed and a video does exist, I have it on KISSOLOGY Companion Vol. 1 (Apocalypse Sound AS 158).
The audience recording is very good with little interference close to the taper and the little you have just adds to the ambiance and experience of this legendary show. The recording starts with an announcer asking fans to back up…”These screens are huuuge” and says to start with the Stevie Wonder looking guy. The crowd begins the “WE WANT KISS” chants and the announcer introduces each member by name and screams “KISS” and the place goes bonkers. The opening Of Detroit rock City has the crowd frantically clapping and from the first note you realize KISS will do what the record states, Destroy Anaheim.
By the time they play King Of The Night Time World you feel as though you are amongst the audience. The set is made up of the classics along with five songs from the newly released Destroyer record. Paul greets the crowd with a huge “Hello Anaheim” and the set continues at a fast pace with Let Me Go, Rock And Roll and Strutter. It is easy to imagine the band in action with the signature synchronized moves and the crowd eats it up. Hotter Than Hell is followed directly by Nothing To Lose and gives a different vibe as you are so used to hearing Firehouse, Peter gets in his first vocal of the night and turns in a strong performance.
Since She is no longer in the set Ace gets his solo spot during raucous Cold Gin (yes California audience love to get high) and the crowd goes wild as his guitar starts to smoke as he unleashes a flurry of notes and is finally left center stage with a glowing pick up, classic stuff. A combo that works well together is Do You Love Me? and Nothing To Lose, Paul sounds almost sweet and Gene just wants to….well you know. Then best solo spot goes to Peter Criss, he has a large drum kit and utilizes all it, at times standing, the crowd reacts by clapping and cheering him on and Gene has some nasty distorted vocals during God Of Thunder. The crowd is in heat by now as the band plows though Rock And Roll All Nite and a frenzied Deuce and the house if brought down with Black Diamond, all around excellent concert.
The bonus tracks start out with the song You’re Much To Young, the songs introduction is the riff from Acrobat. The complete recording was released on Rockin’ in Memphis 1974 (CD 74, Hooker and Tate) and is good quality that shows a little age but is essential listening and is great to have on this set.
The Cleveland Music Hall show was recorded for the ALIVE ! record and a few songs appeared on the Live In Hell (Oh Boy Records), Let Me Know was a rarely played song from the first record. Closing out the CD are two songs from early in the Rock And Roll Over tour, Strutter and a rare version of Hard Luck Woman. The recording is good and the instruments and vocals can be clearly heard but there is a lot of crowd chatter commotion near the taper but the song can be appreciated.
Takes Tokyo (The Godfatherecords G.R. Box 07 E/F)
Disc 5 (79:51) Nippon Budokan Tokyo , Japan April 1, 1977; Intro / Detroit rock City, Take Me, Let Me Go, Rock And roll, Ladies room, Firehouse, Makin’ Love, I Want You, Cold Gin, Solo Ace Frehley, Do You Love Me?, Nothing To Lose, Solo Gene Simmons, God Of Thunder, Solo Peter Criss / God Of Thunder ~cont~, Rock And Roll All Nite, Shout It Out Loud, Beth, Black Diamond. National Guard Armory Rockford, Il. USA November 15, 1975; Ladies In Waiting. Roosevelt Stadium Jersey City, NJ. USA July 10,1976; Watching You / Solo Peter Criss, Flaming Youth.
Takes Tokyo was released on vinyl by such companies as Ruthless Rhymes, Dragonfly Records and GLC (Great Live Concerts) and as Mama Weer All Crazee Now on the Cartoon Label and finally Live In Japan on Quicktype records. This release also represents the debut of the audience recording on CD (the soundboard has many releases). The audience source is very good, near excellent recording with very minimal crowd noise and is a pleasure to listen to. The tour in support of Rock And Roll Over finds the band dropping a lot of the older stage favorites and has a refreshing mix of songs from the last two records with a few oldies in the mix
The Japanese leg can at the end of a four month tour but there is little fatigue showing, tha band is energized by their first trip to the Far East and the overwhelming support from the fans who worship the band like Gods, the respond with rock and roll. The band hit the stage with Detroit rock City and then go into Take Me, the transition is flawless but you expend the wining of King of the Night Time World. As with other recordings Paul keeps his stage raps simple and minimal, preferring to let the universal language of music to do the talking.
The first half of the show is filled with new songs, Ladies Room, Makin’ Love and I Want You are well received by the audience, Ace is in great shape and his playing is inspired and fluent, again his solo comes during Cold Gin. There are several pauses of the recording, no music is lost and I wonder if the taper was trying conserve tape or battery life, it does not interfere and sounds smooth and natural.
Gene’s blood spitting received screams and shrills from the audience. The encore have the crowd clapping in time and Shout It Out Loud is very effective but it is Beth that brings the house down. The audience quietly claps (is there such a thing?) and adds to the gentleness of the songs, Peter must have loved singing this song live, just him and the audience.
The first bonus track is from The Armory in Rockford in 1975, I have always wanted to hear KISS’ set from this night. The opening band was Rush and fans know that the person who recorded the KISS set also recorded them and gave us collections a holy grail, the only known live version of the complete Necromancer. The KISS song here is a rarity also, a live version of the Dressed To Kill classic Ladies In Waiting.
The sound is good but unfortunately the vocals are buried but the instruments are pretty well defined and is great to hear. The last two tracks are from the New Jersey gig early in the tour and have been released on the New Jersey Jews (Roaring Mouse Records). We have the rarely played Watching You (in 1976) complete with a Peter Criss drum solo and Flaming Youth. The recording quality is good and there is some crowd noise but does not interfere with ones enjoyment.
Disc 6 (76:23) L.A. Forum Los Angeles Ca. USA August 26, 1977; Intro / I Stole Your Love, Take Me, Ladies Room, Forehouse, Love Gun, Hooligan, Makin’ Love, Christine Sixteen, Shock Me, Solo Ace Frehley, I Want You, Calling Dr. Love, Shout It Out Loud, Solo Gene Simmons, God Of Thunder, Solo Peter Criss / God Of Thunder ~cont~ Rock And Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, Beth, Black Diamond. Roberts Municipal Stadium Evansville, In. USA January 23, 1978; Deuce
KISS played three nights at the LA Forum in August 1977 and recorded the shows for what would become the ALIVE II record. The audience recording was issued early on vinyl as Sneak Attack on such labels as Ruthless Rhymes, Dragonfly Records and GLC and as KISS My Axe on Canyon records and is making its CD debut on this set. The audience source is very good bordering on excellent, there is a nice mix of audience noise present that captures the party atmosphere perfectly.
With the focus on recording a live album the band chose to play a majority of new material, The band arrive onstage to the sound of bombs going off and rip into I Stole Your Love and Take Me, effective as openers and get the crowd on their side instantly. The crowd is rowdy and there are some almost desperate sounding wails from some nearby females. The title track to the bands most recent album is very effective, Love Gun is better live than on record and the band kill everything in site (just listen to the girls at the songs conclusion), Ace nails the solo perfectly.
Peter does a fine version of Hooligan, one has to wonder why it did not make the cut and was left of the live record. The aggressive concert continues with a fast paced Makin’ Love and the tempo does not slow for Christine Sixteen ! Paul has a surprise, something they haven’t done before, he turns the microphone over the Ace and Shock Me. The taper must be in the Ace Frehley fan section and the girls scream for him, he responds with inspired playing, his solo flows easily from his finger tips and is in fine voice to boot !
The crowd is in a complete state of frenzy mid solo as the notes echo through the building, Ace is in his prime and literately smokes the solo, great stuff indeed. The crowd goes almost docile as the opening chords of I Want You are played and for a moment the pain they sound in is relieved. Paul has a great rap about the security trying to get people to sit down and its a bunch of bullshit and its a rock and roll concert and revives the audience with Shout It Out Loud.
Gene’s bass solo has an almost mechanized sound to it and the audience takes in his solo spot and the blood letting that occurs. God Of Thunder is built for the stage, evil and aggressive and a perfect vehicle for the Demon persona. One common thread through this box set for me is the drum solos, during my initial listens to this box set I read the KISS And Make Up book by Gene Simmons. While I enjoyed the book I felt he took a few too many shots a Criss, upon further sonic evaluation you hear just how integral he was to the early KISS sound and a key part of their success.
He played with incredible passion and during every single one of the shows on this box his solo gets the crowd off their asses and on their feet clapping cheering every time (sorry for the soapbox moment).
Another thing I enjoyed listening to is Rock And Roll All Nite, thanks to FM radio it is over played but hearing these old recordings and the excitement it generated gave me new perspective for the song. There is no stopping now….Detroit Rock City…Beth…Black Diamond wring every last bit if energy from the band and audience.
The lone bonus track is a rare version of Deuce from the ALIVE II tour, it is a fair to good sounding audience recording with minimal crowd noise. Having given the song a break for a couple years the band do not skip a beat, Ace certainly has not as he plays a great solo. By the time you reach the end you feel the need to go back to the first CD and do it all again, This box set will be in my player for some time.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)