Texas Supersonic (Golden Eggs EGG 165/166)
The Summit, Houston, TX, USA – September 1 & 2, 1977
As a kid who would open up the gatefold of Kiss Alive II and gaze at the wonders of what it would be like to be at a KISS concert, that photo was just massive. The drum riser fully extended, the side extensions towering over the stage, the pyro…ahh the glory days of the hottest band in the world. As a fan I have always liked Alive II, in some ways as much as Alive!, it had a more live feel and captured the hysteria of the 1977-1978 period, one that would really never be recaptured. The Love Gun tour was the visual pinnacle for KISS, the music from Love Gun, while not as strong as Rock And Roll Over, made the transition from record to stage easily and the success of previous tours allowed the band an improved stage set and upgraded costumes.
While the band never officially filmed the tour, there were venues that were using an in house video system, basically filming the concert as it happens and sending the live feed to luxury boxes so one could enjoy their show in the lap of luxury. When KISS rolled into the 16,000 seat Houston Summit for a two night run during the Love Gun tour, the cameras were rolling and both nights are captured in video tape quality. Both nights were filmed by John Crow TV Productions which recorded both video and a soundboard quality audio, because the video was filmed for the house-screens there are blank gaps between songs where nothing would have been visible during the show. This new title from Golden Eggs presents both nights in Houston from “Newly found Mixer Masters” aka video soundboard quality.
Disc 1 September 1, 1977 (77:12) Introduction, I Stole Your Love, Take Me, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Love Gun, Hooligan, Makin’ Love, Christine Sixteen, Shock Me, Ace Frehley Guitar Solo, I Want You, Calling Dr. Love, Shout It Out Loud, Gene Simmons Bass Solo, God Of Thunder, Peter Criss Drum Solo, Rock And Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, Beth, Black Diamond
The first night in Houston is the lesser known of the two nights, the only major release of this concert is Black Diamond being used on KISSOLOGY Volume One: 1974-1977 (VH1 Classic Records), one can assume both nights are in the KISS Archives. The sound is excellent, well balanced with all instruments and vocals being well positioned in the mix, save for Ace’s guitar that is a bit in the background making some of his solos difficult to hear at times. Speaking of the mix, it is basic and being from video tape is a bit thin and lacks the dynamics of multi track recordings. There is a bit of distortion that seems to be coming from Paul’s guitar feed, there is no tape hiss to speak of, overall a great and very enjoyable tape.
The Houston shows came right after the three nights at The Forum in Los Angeles that were recorded for the Alive II record, after these two shows the band would end the Love Gun tour with the two nights in Fort Worth (found on the No Beast So Fierce – Eat A Peach EAT 174 title). One would think end of tour, tired band, but this is KISS. The opening salvo of I Stole Your Love into Take Me is full of energy as the band work the stage as no others can, interesting to hear Paul’s vocal effects during the chorus. As one would expect the audience is a bit low in the mix but are heard enough to get a feel for the atmosphere inside The Summit. After Ladies Room Peter can be clearly heard going on a tirade about a spotlight and is clearly not happy, I wonder if Paul knew as he quickly starts his intro rap for Firehouse, the song is a hit with the fans as we get Gene’s fire breathing, the Summit had tight restriction on pyrotechnics so his Fire breathing was a big part of the show.
The Love Gun tour was the only to feature Peter’s Hooligan, with much of the set being new material, it’s nice to hear Peter get a solo vocal, we don’t hear enough of his singing other than Black Diamond. Ace gets his solo spot during Shock Me, Cold Gin was retired until the 1980 European tour. “Houston! All right we’re gonna do something that’s pretty new to us…little surprise for all you people out there…we’re gonna hear some singing from someone you don’t always hear singing from…Ace Frehley Shock Me” is Paul’s intro to a superb version of the Ace classic. Gene’s solo is bass notes over a soundscape, more a visual thing, Peter’s gong crash leads to the God Of Thunder, Paul comes in a bit late making for an interesting sounding beginning to such a dark song. Peter gets his drum solo, all killer no filler and he is very enthusiastic about it and is awarded a nice ovation. Paul gives a shout out to the last time they played Houston as an intro to Detroit Rock City, again at The Summit and like these concerts was video taped and is worth seeking out.
Not all in attendance were quite sold on the KISS Phenomena, the Houston Chronicle reviewed this concert, “Interesting? Colorful? You bet, but then (no doubt) so was Sodom and Gomorrah… or the burning of Atlanta… or any one of a hundred other disasters. I mean, KISS doesn’t just ‘play music’ (actually, that’s what they do the least of!); togged out in their bizarre costumes and painted faces, they rip, snort and breathe fire all over the stage, push their powerful amps to the limit and, these days — now that they’ve been successfully sold as the ‘hottest rock group in the land’ — they work large concert halls full of young people into absolute hair-whipping frenzies”.
Disc 2 September 2, 1977 (77:13) Introduction, I Stole Your Love, Take Me, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Love Gun, Hooligan, Makin’ Love, Christine Sixteen, Shock Me, Ace Frehley Guitar Solo, I Want You, Calling Dr. Love, Shout It Out Loud, Gene Simmons Bass Solo, God Of Thunder, Peter Criss Drum Solo, Rock And Roll All Nite, Detroit Rock City, Beth, Black Diamond
The second night in Houston is by far the more well known, the bulk of the video portion of the concert was released officially on KISSOLOGY Volume One: 1974-1977 (VH1 Classic Records). Long before that, the audio portion was released on compact disc on the titles Houston The Summit Sept 2 ’77 (Deep Records MIK-031), Live USA (Imtrat IMM 40.90165), and Live In Concert (Top Sound CD009), and Beth was found as a bonus track on All Shook Up In San Francisco (The Godfatherecords G.R.873). A recent vinyl title is Live At The Summit Houston Texas USA (Iron Eagle Records 064/65), and two titles that capture the video on DVD are Houston 1977, 2nd Night (Unknown) and Texas Blood (Partydog Records).
The second night in Houston features a slightly better recording than the first night. First off Ace is louder in the mix from the first song and the timbre of this recording is better, a bit fuller and not as thin. Other than the KISSOLOGY set, this is my first version of this concert in my collection. By this point in their career, KISS was more machine with the performances being set with no major differences. When one looks at their working during the 1976-1977 period, it is for good reason. Three studio albums, one live album and a seeming endless touring schedule, burnout was looming.
Paul’s voice sounds a bit hoarse, the high energy of the first night is slightly evident in this concert. “After a night like last night, I know it’s gonna be a Rock n Roll party tonight” is his intro to Firehouse, complete with a stripper drum beat from Peter, who after the song ends asks for a drink, his mic is hot, cool to hear these casual comments. Paul’s voice has warmed up and the band play a great version of Love Gun, his falsetto is better than the first night and Ace’s solo crushes as usual, perhaps coming in a close second is his solo during Makin’ Love, the Rock And Roll Over classic is a relentless Riff-A-Thon that garners an ovation. You can hear Pete asking for a light of some sort, again Paul cuts in introducing a song about “A bad little Christine Sixteen”. Gene does his spoken word part, by and large a great version of the song, Peter gets into the chorus vocals as well, he always is great during the Gene songs.
Paul is more vocal and animated for this concert, while mostly all of his between song banter is the same, his introduction to Shock Me is different tonight, perhaps feeling the enthusiasm of the audience. With Ace taking the lead the song has the loose feel like many of his songs do, Parasite for one, he is the master of playing on the edge. A double dose of Rock And Roll Over tunes follows Ace’s solo spot, I Want You features a call and response between Paul and the audience, as one would expect the crowd is totally into it. Calling Dr. Love is played at break neck speed, the pace continues for the Destroyer classic Shout It Out Loud.
Paul gets the crowd on their feet for a blistering set ending version of the “Rock And Roll National Anthem”, a portion of the song, including a bit of Ace’s solo, is taken from the first night 2:12 – 2:37, the patch is seamless and well handled. Paul gets the audience to chant “Rock And Roll” over and over then tells them it sounds like Detroit Rock City. The version here is powerful with all four going for the throat in complete contrast to the beautifully sung version of Beth, the mix is perfect with the pre recorded music and Peter’s vocals are spot on. The beginning of Black Diamond is slightly different from the previous night, Paul hits a couple bum notes that differentiate it, I was curious since it was not used for KISSOLOGY.
The package for this title is superb, posed shots from the Love Gun era and graphics certainly from that era, lots of colors and for those who remember those days, brings a smile to your face as the colored rainbow style graphics were everywhere, TV, magazines, clothing. The Houston performances are the most complete of the Love Gun soundboards and are the cornerstone for this period, KISS fans need these recordings in their collection. You can do no wrong with this title, unless you listen at low volumes.