All Shook Up In San Francisco (The Godfatherecords G.R.873)
Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA, USA – August 16, 1977
(76:06) Intro, I Stole Your Love, Take Me, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Love Gun, Hooligan, Christine Sixteen, Makin’ Love, Shock Me, Ace Solo, I Want You, Calling Dr. Love, Shout It Out Loud, Gene Solo, God Of Thunder, Peter Solo, Rock And Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, Black Diamond, Elvis Death News Report, Beth (The Summit Houston, TX, USA – September 2, 1977)
I can remember being a young lad of nine years old when we heard the news of The King’s passing. My Mom was an Elvis fan and would watch his movies when they were shown, so I grew up with a knowledge of Elvis and his music at a young age. I also had knowledge of KISS, what kid in the mid 70s did not, especially after their triumphant appearance on the Paul Lynde Halloween show. Godfather have aptly decided to gives collectors a chance to either upgrade an older title or for new ones to obtain a must have concert from KISSTORY in superb sound to boot.
KISS was at the height of their collective powers in 1977, massive worldwide success thanks to the platinum selling Love Gun and the tour that followed is widely considered the best that the original line up ever produced. Quick to capitalize on their success KISS would record shows just over a week after this recording that would ultimately make up the Alive II record. The Cow Palace was the big concert arena in San Francisco, seating 14,500 and the sold out crowd was in for a dynamic show from the biggest band in America and thankfully a soundboard recording exists. It has been released on CD before as A Rock And Roll Night (CDP 746437 3 Chikara Recording Corporation) and Alive In San Francisco (Bondage Music BON 228), both have been out of print for some time. The soundboard recording is excellent, well balanced with a perfect mix of instruments and vocals, the audience are mixed down in the recording but can be heard clearly giving a little bit of ambiance. As prior posts have eluded, the sound is much sharper and dynamic compared to the older releases and is a nice upgrade in sound. The guitar and bass has a small amount of distortion on them that give them a real nasty sound, the performance is second to none with the band playing in obvious homage to The King.
The recording starts as Elvis’ All Shook Up is played over the PA as the band’s intro music, the audience wildly cheers for the King as the announcer takes the stage for the obligatory “…Alright San Francisco…” . The band hit the stage with “I Stole Your Love” and already in fighting form, the playing is fast and furious but nice and tight. Ace’s playing is perfect, the outro solo at the song’s end is particularly good and gives perfect momentum as they play “Take Me”. The band’s last three records make up the majority of the set and after a typical Paul introduction he invites the girls into the “Ladies Room”. Paul’s voice sounds a little raspy as he introduces “Firehouse”, Peter plays a stripper beat to loosen things up a little. The song is a concert staple and Ace wrings the hell out of his guitar to superb effect, it is simply a joy to listen to this recording as the band is so full of energy it is infectious.
Paul introduces the title track from the new record, that’s it. Interesting to hear as during latter tours he would do a whole long sexual tinged rap. Paul tries to sing falsetto and his voice falls a little short, the rest of the band more than make up for it. One of the cool things about the Love Gun tour is the inclusion of Peter’s semi autobiographical “Hooligan”. While Paul was really making harder rock songs, Peter’s music always had a 50s rock and roll feel to them. It is great to have a real good version of the song in excellent sound quality. Paul has a surprise for the audience, Ace Frehley and “Shock Me”. After years of just writing he finally gets the nerve to sing and reinvent his solo with even more theatrics. A real life tale of being shocked onstage in Florida, Ace is smoking before he even gets to his solo, fueled by Peter’s beat the song is a total group effort as Paul and Gene play sidemen providing a solid foundation for the Spaceman. His solo clocks in at just under five minutes and showcases his creativity as a player, his work in the 70s is really underrated.
Paul gets the audience involved with a call and response segment during “I Want You”, even though they are low in the mix you can hear the energy from the audience. Paul has his “Dr. Love” intro rap down to a science, he knows the audience has rock and roll pneumonia and Gene has the cure. The beginning of Gene’s blood spitting solo sounds eerie in this recording and reminiscent of the live versions of Led Zeps “In The Evening” before going into a hellish “Phantom Of The Opera” screeching soundscape. You can hear the audience going crazy as he lets the blood flow. It is a prelude to “God Of Thunder”, the true persona of the Demon and also a vehicle for Peter’s solo, clocking in at four and a half minutes he utilizes his solo for a percussive feat for the ears. While Eric’s (Carr and Singer) may be harder hitting rock drummers they could never replace the feel that Peter gave the band, his style was old school and had a lot of swing to it.
Paul dedicates the last song of the set to the “King Of Rock And Roll” and the band play one of the best ever live versions of “Rock And Roll All Nite”. All four band members sing the chorus in fine fashion and they give the King a fine send off. “Detroit Rock City” and the ever exquisite “Black Diamond” close an incredible show, one often hears about the bands official live records and the overdubbing done on them as the band was not as tight as a live unit. One has to only listen to recordings like this to know that is wrong, by 1977 they had honed their live act to perfection as this recording clearly demonstrates. As the audience fades there is a news report from Mason Granger, a Memphis reporter, on the death of Elvis. Curiously the bands biggest hit, one that was part of the set list on the tour was not played, Godfather has added a version from the second show in Houston, TX from September 2nd to help complete the show. It is really nice to hear the songs quiet beginning after the death report, the bands final ode to their fallen idol.
The packaging is a tri gatefold sleeve with a variation of the Alive II Evolution Of KISS insert. There are many great audience shots of the crowd and their homemade banners as well as dramatic live shots of the band, the one of Gene in the center is fantastic and for this reviewer, one that sums up this show; high energy. The liner notes are written by Edwin Newman from NBC television, certainly giving this release a certain credibility that only a top shelf newsman can. Once again Godfather have delivered a wonderful upgrade and this release now stands as the definitive source for this fine concert.