(73:40) Independence Hall, Baton Rouge, LA USA July 16, 1974: Deuce, Strutter, She, Firehouse, 100,000 Years, Black Diamond. The Bayou, Washington DC, USA March 25, 1974: Deuce, Strutter, She, Firehouse, Acrobat, Let Me Know, Black Diamond, Let Me Go Rock And Roll
The latest KISS release from The Don features two audience recordings culled from the band’s tour in support of their debut, self title record. There have been some great, early KISS material making its way to the collectors market, this new title continues that trend.
The first recording comes from Baton Rouge and features a very good recording done by the late, great Mr. Freezer. Many collectors know him from his Led Zeppelin and Yes recordings, I never knew he taped KISS but am glad he did. The sound is clear, well balanced with all instruments and vocals being clear and well defined, the tape has a great live sound to it. It has been recently released on vinyl as The Louder They Are (No Label), I am guessing the sound quality is very similar to this release, this does mark its silver pressed CD debut. This was the band’s first gig in Baton Rouge and they were opening for Blue Oyster Cult and were given a 30 minute time slot, curiously the concert was postponed from the original date July 5.
The recording begins with the band sound checking their equipment and we get Mr. Freezer’s trademark whistle just prior to the opening of “Are You Ready To Rock?….Are You Ready To Roll? ….Put Your Two Lips Together And Get Ready For…KISSS!” as was the standard introduction this early on. The band has the opening salvo of Deuce and Strutter in place. The sound does move around a bit as if Freezer was moving or adjusting his equipment, it does not become too obtrusive though although the beginning of Strutter sounds a bit out of tune but is soon rectified. The audience is ready to rock and give the band a warm but subdued welcome. Paul tells they are going to slow things down a bit and they break into the as of yet unreleased She. It lumbers to life as the band play a heavy as hell version, Peter’s drumming is perfection and Paul’s high note during the chorus is piercing to say the least, Ace gets a super quick solo spot, the band has little time to waste being the opening act. A standard Firehouse follows, even this early on is a crowd pleaser, by this time you can feel the audience warming up to the band. The crowd sound almost aghast as Gene does his blooded spitting at the beginning of the brilliant 100,000 Years, it features Paul’s “Do you believe in Rock and Roll” rap. Black Diamond finishes the set in typical KISS fashion.
The last 40 minutes is made up from a gig very early on in the tour, when the band had yet to stray far from NYC, it is the late show from the Bayou Club in Washington, DC. The recording has been in circulation for some time, it made its first appearance as part of The KISS KOLLECTION Vol. 1(C 40278), a compilation CD featuring the Midnight Special audio as well as a snippet of a solo Ace concert. The CD has been long out of print, my copy is so old it is starting to develop errors on it, so this is a welcome release. The concert has also been recently out on vinyl as The Harder They Come (no label).
The recording is culled from the audience, it is in the good range, you can hear all the instruments and vocals and it’s well balanced but is a bit muddy sounding, but more than listenable, it sounds better than the KISS KOLLECTION, a bit louder and brighter, they are most certainly using a better copy of the recording. A master of ceremonies introduces “Casablanca recording stars…the second time tonight, cmon…KISS”, the audience, reportedly of 500 strong, remain indifferent to the band’s arrival onstage. Ace plays a blistering solo in the opening song Deuce while Peter lets out a blood curdling scream, the band opens with a bang for sure. Paul introduces the next song as being a New York song, he has to fill in a bit while Ace tunes up then they blow right into Strutter. She is played very slow and heavy like at the Baton Rouge show, Gene is playing some intricate bass lines at the beginning, it is fascinating to listening to his playing, especially in the older show as he does not get a lot of praise for being a great bassist.
Of course the highlight of this tape is that it contains one of the few live recordings of Acrobat, aka Love Theme From Kiss. The Acrobat part is linked with Your Much Too Young and the whole thing clocks in at over six minutes and even though it is not as good a recording as the 1973 rehearsal, Daisy tape, or the Memphis radio broadcast the performance makes up for its short comings. Gene’s bass is great, the chorus style riff they play just before the Much Too Young transition is very Black Sabbath like. Speaking of Much Too Young, this version is great, the band play a killer version of the song, very straight forward rock and roll. Peter’s drumming is exceptional, he plays the living hell out of his kit, and just listen to Ace’s leads, he lets loose and lets rip with an insane blast just before a quick drum solo.
A rare Let Me Know is next, it sounds rather timid after the previous song but continues very much in the rock mold and gets a nice ovation. Black Diamond is the set closer, Paul plays the intro part perfectly, not long and drawn out just simple yet perfect. Peter gives a passionate rendition of the song, it’s as if he has been keeping it all in and explodes when given the chance. Even though he did not write the song he made it his. Paul tells the audience they don’t have to do encores, but since they are such a nice audience they will! The audience is rewarded with a steam rolling version of Let Me Go, Rock And Roll, the band are playing with a lot of energy, they don’t even notice the feedback but simply rip it out, Ace is the star of the song as his leads roll off his finger tips effortlessly. Just when the song usually ends, Peter starts in with a drum beat and the band play an old school extended version ala 1973 that brings the performance to an exciting conclusion.
The packaging is the usual tri gatefold sleeve, the cover art is great with black and white images of the band in Beatlesque poses super imposed over a bright 70’s background. The inner section is live shots of the band, very effective. As usual the Godfather KISS releases are high quality affairs, you get class A packaging and musical value for your hard earned buck, no 30 minute cd’s here. Another great KISS title from The Don, one that serves as a prelude to their next endeavor, the KISS You Are The Best Box set!