Return To Thunder Winter Tour 1976 / 1977 (Eat A Peach 6)
Camp Curtis Guild Armory, Reading, MA, USA – November 15, 1976
(79:11) Detroit Rock City, Take Me, Let Me Go Rock And Roll, Strutter, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Hard Luck Woman, Do You Love Me?, Cold Gin, Makin’ Love, Cold Gin, Gene Solo, God Of Thunder, Peter Solo, Rock And Roll All Nite, Deuce, Black Diamond, I Want You, Hard Luck Woman. Bonus Tracks; Hanger E, Stewart International Airport, Newburgh, NY, USA – July 2, 1976; Detroit Rock City, King Of The Nighttime World. Bonus Track; Earth News Radio USA – September 7, 1976; Radio interview with Gene Simmons
After the Destroyer record broke big thanks to mega hit ballad Beth, the band had achieved the stardom they had worked so hard for. Early on the band had felt the Ezrin produced Destroyer too slick for their hard rock style so the band would make the decision to work with Eddie Kramer, who had done their original five demo as well as the ALIVE! project. He was able to capture the live feel of the band by recording their next wax opus, Rock And Roll Over, at the empty Star Theater in Nauet, New York. The music found on the record would find the band doing what they do best, play simple straight forward rock and roll. The Rock And Roll Over tour would be one of the band’s most successful tours ever, the audiences were to capacity in most markets and would feature the band using altered versions of the Destroyer set and costumes. The rehearsals for the tour began at SIR Studios B in New York on November 7-13 followed by dress rehearsals at Camp Curtis Guild Armory in Reading, MA November 14-21 1976. Although there is a specific date on the cover, this title is most likely a composite of recordings culled from both sets of rehearsal, tracks 1-10 being from SIR Studios, 11-19 from Camp Curtis. There has been a previous release of rehearsal audio released years back, New York Rehearsal 76 (Gypsy Eye GE 082), I do not own this title so cannot compare the material found on that release to this material.
The soundboard recording(s) are excellent, clear sound with all instruments and vocals clearly hear with just a slight bit of tape hiss. The band is rehearsing in empty studio / hall so you do get a bit of the echo but is overall a great sounding, yet sadly incomplete tape. It does sound like a composite of two different recordings as there are many cuts and slight changes in sound. The recording starts with Detroit Rock City, the song makes for a perfect opener and was in that position for the entire Destroyer tour. The band would incorporate much of the new album into their set, Take Me gets a position early in the set, and it’s deserving of its place. Let Me Go and Strutter are typical versions, the latter sounds a bit out of place in the middle of the set as it was so effective as one of the opening songs. Ladies Room is great, Gene sings the song laid back in this rehearsal. One of the more rare songs to be found on this recording is Hard Luck Woman. Written by Paul Stanley the song has a Rod Stewart feel to it making it perfect for Peter’s voice and is a dark horse fan favorite on the record. The beginning of the recording is sadly cut and electric guitars have replaced the acoustics but the song retains its charm. The song would make the tour but be dropped after just a handful of dates and while there are a few live versions (Memphis 12/2/76) they are all fair quality at best.
Do You Love Me? is cut, just the last minute and a half are left, Paul does a simple intro for “Coooold Gin”, one of two versions found on this tape. Makin’ Love is incomplete and clocks in at 1:40 seconds of the last part of the song, the song fragment is excellent, Ace plays an excellent solo and the last part of the song has the band locked into the riff to perfection and the ending is interesting. The second version of Cold Gin has Paul saying “Ace is gonna be drinking some..Cold Gin” that has the whole band erupting into laughter. Paul introduces Peter after his solo as George Criscuola, his birth name. I Want You and the second version of Hard Luck Woman finds a drop in quality, muddy and not as well defined as the other and sounds overloaded. I Want You sounds very powerful and simply smokes, Hard Luck Woman is complete and sadly the sound quality is not as good as the previous version, yet one can still enjoy it.
The bonus songs are from the rehearsals for the Spirit Of 76 summer tour and were full dress rehearsals done in front of the press, the source comes from the video shot by the band. The sound is generally excellent and as the band give the press the full KISS experience as you can clearly hear bombs going off. The date is often attributed to late June 1976, the band is playing superbly and this is a great addition to this set. The last bit of bonus material is a radio interview with the Demon himself, Gene Simmons. Gene describes the band’s stage show, the influence of Alice Cooper and their onstage personas, and you gotta love the shampoo commercial and a big shout out got to Lou Erwin.
The packaged is excellent, a mini LP sleeve adorned with Rock And Roll Over styled graphics and looks like a companion piece to the record. The LP “sleeve” features RARO graphics and there is a full color insert featuring live shots of each of the four band members. The rehearsal recordings are great to listen to, they find the band in great shape playing wise and there early camaraderie is still present, nice to see this material getting attention from the collectors market and a fine effort from the Eat A Peach label.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)