The Ritz, New York City, NY, USA – August 12, 1988
Disc 1 (77:57) Intro, Deuce, Love Gun, Fits Like A Glove, Heaven’s On Fire, Cold Gin, Black Diamond, Bang Bang You, No No No, Firehouse, Crazy Crazy Nights, Calling Dr Love, War Machine, Reason To Live, Tears Are Falling, I Live It Loud, Strutter, Shout It Out Loud, Lick It Up
Disc 2 (77:51) Rock And Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, Outro. The Ritz, New York City, NY, USA – August 13, 1988; Deuce, Love Gun, Fits Like A Glove, Heaven’s On Fire, Cold Gin, Black Diamond, Firehouse, Crazy Crazy Nights, Calling Dr Love, War Machine, Tears Are Falling. Grand Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA, USA – August 8, 1988; Cold Gin, Lick It Up, Detroit Rock City, Whole Lotta Love
KISS would play to some of their biggest crowds of the Crazy Nights tour in the summer of 1988 as part of the European Monsters Of Rock tour, a bill consisting of headliners Iron Maiden and former Van Halen front man David Lee Roth. Just prior to the tour, the band would play two club dates in New York City at The Ritz, a 1,200 capacity venue in the East Village and as a special treat for their hometown the first show would be broadcast live on the radio. Like most radio broadcasts, this makes perfect material for bootleggers, such as the case for The Ritz broadcasts that began with vinyl releases, Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die (Parrot Records KIS-01-A/B/C/D), Don’t You Love It Loud (Fan Club Records(CLUB 8A-A/B), and New York, New York (White Label KS 88 – A/B/C/D). The show would make the transition to compact disc on titles like Band Your Head, Kiss My Love Gun (American Concert Series ACS 036), Made In The USA (ROCKS 92083), Desert Island (IBR 2485), New York 1988 (VIP Vip 009), and this title I even found on Amazon, The Ritz On Fire (Goldfish GOLF006). For this new release from the Eat A Peach label, we get for the first time the complete concert not to mention several most interesting bonus tracks.
The quality of this title is the radio broadcast and is excellent, well balanced and sounds incredible, it demands to be played at loud volumes for maximum impact. WNEW would host the ceremonies and the first 2 minutes is radio banter about the weather. Paul comes on and promises a hot night and the band kick into what I consider the best opener, Deuce. Love Gun was the opener for the American tour that preceded this date, for the two Ritz shows and their MOR dates, yet would be the opener for the headline off dates they did in Europe. Paul promises a long show just as an air horn goes off, this is a wild New York audience and the band are there to deliver with a set of Klassics as well as their 80’s output making for a well rounded set list. Black Diamond was added to the set list for the Japanese tour yet would come mid set, the song had not been in regular rotation since the Animalize tour, Eric Carr gets the vocal duties and is great to hear in this quality. Even the newer material is played with gusto, No No No is very strong, the Gene/Eric jam is aggressive and the hard hitting Eric propels the song much to ones delight.
The polish of Crazy Nights leads to the looser Calling Dr. Love and an ultra heavy War Machine and are in direct contrast to Reason To Live, Gary Corbett’s keys are higher in the mix and while a faithful rendition, sounds a little flat compared to the harder material. The band keep the ballads to just the one and get right back into the rock with Tears Are Falling and the sing along of I Love It Loud that gets the audience back into it. As they had done in Japan, the inclusion of more of the 70’s output continues with Strutter, Paul does a great intro about rehearsing down on 23 Street back in 1973 and their earliest fans who inspired the song. An inspired Shout It Out Loud finishes the set, and the shouts of “We Want KISS…” fill the air. Lick It Up features some really good Bruce Kulick playing and Rock And Roll All Nite features the obligatory sing along and the band plowing into a driving Detroit Rock City brings the concert to a proper close.
The recording from the second night at the Ritz is also a soundboard source and after the first couple songs they get the balance better and the quality is better than the previous night. The audience is a bit lower in the mix but the band play with every bit the enthusiasm of the previous evening. Just before Fits Like A Glove, Paul comments about the radio broadcast, “I never heard so much KISS on the radio…they never play us but we don’t care”. The fragment features perhaps the best of the set list, it seems like someone is attempting to edit the recording for curse words and other expletives, like Gene’s reference to large breasts in Fits Like A Glove.
The last bit of bonus material is a rare and much welcomed inclusion to this set. The band did a video shoot for Crazy Crazy Nights and invited fans to be in the “audience”, tickets were given away by KNAC radio in Los Angeles. The band decided to do something special and play a few songs for the faithful and this four song set is the result. The recording is an audience source, it’s distant but has very good sound, it does have just a bit of tape hiss but nothing to interfere with ones enjoyment. Thankfully an enterprising fan took his gear, as we get a nice loose performance from the band. They start by playing a bit of Led Zeppelin’s Bring It On Home prior to Cold Gin. Paul tells the audience they have not rehearsed, this is confirmed by Gene flubbing the lyrics to Cold Gin. Paul and Bruce fiddle around a bit with the harmony guitar solo prior to playing Detroit Rock City while the others get ready. The highlight of the tape is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, Bruce and Paul get some feed back and other guitar effects for a brief middle section and Bruce does his best Jimmy Page for the famous solo. An excellent bonus for an equally excellent release.
Eat A Peach is quickly become a collector favorite for their commitment for quality, value, and packaging, this release is a perfect example. The packaging is my favorite so far of their KISS releases, the cover boasts the look of an old vinyl release, the inner CD sleeves look like faded old LP sleeves and the hole in the middle features a faux LP, the second disc has a picture of Paul with the fire hat on during Firehouse something he had not done since 1984. There is an insert with liner notes from Dan Starr, where he describes this release as the ultimate edition, and I can wholeheartedly agree.