10 East 23rd Street Loft, New York City, NY, USA – May 1973
(35:21) Sound check, Strutter, Firehouse, Watchin’ You, Let Me Know, Life In The Woods # 1, Life In The Woods # 2, Acrobat
The Loft at 10 East 23rd Street in New York City is hallowed grounds for KISS fans. Rented as a rehearsal area and sometimes crash pad by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley in Mid 1972, they would audition for a drummer and lead guitarist and by Christmas time of that year KISS was born. The band would not only hone the musical aspect but also the visual representation that all considered of the utmost importance. At first they took inspiration from the up and coming New York Dolls and had a look that bordered on drag, thankfully the idea blossomed that would give way for Kabuki style make up and costumes of black. By March 1973 the band had called in a favor and got Eddie Kramer to record a demo for them and they started playing select venues. Recently a crude soundboard recording finally surfaced of the band playing a Long Island club called the Daisy (Amityville 1973 Zodiac 051, and Horny Bitches & Daisy Daze The Godfatherecords G.R. 978), prior to that summertime run of shows Gene Simmons would record the band while rehearsing for the gigs. Reportedly done with a 2 track tape deck the resulting recording is an excellent document to further understand the evolution of KISS’ rise to stardom in the mid 70’s.
The amateur recording is clear and the instruments are fairly well balanced, they all can be heard with emphasis on Paul’s guitar if anything. The vocals are low in the mix and much of Paul’s signing is barley audible during Strutter and Firehouse. There is some top end distortion present but overall it is not only more than listenable it is highly enjoyable and must be considered a companion piece to the Daisy show. The recording picks up with some tune ups and the band plows into Strutter. As like the Daisy show it’s all there but too busy for lack of a better word. It would be refined and simplified by the time the band entered the studio to begin recording the first record. Even in this stage it has all the swagger of the classic we all love, Ace’s solo is slightly different but really good, it has a laid back feel to it.
There is some muffled conversation at its conclusion and either a tape cut or pause and Paul plays a little of the Firehouse riff while they get ready. Again Firehouse is slower with the tempo being slightly off, Gene plays a nice fat bass but the song really drags. Ace’s solos are busy but the lyrics are close to being done and Whew Whos are there. Curiously Watchin’ You is very close to the version that would be released on Hotter Than Hell, this version more than makes up for the Daisy recording where the song suffered from tape warble. Let Me Know is one of Paul’s earliest songs, during this era it was referred to as Sunday Driver and while it was released on the first KISS during this time it is in need of some tightening up.
One of the curiosities of the Daisy tape was getting to hear Life In The Woods, even though two versions are listed the first take is quickly abandoned after 15 seconds. The vocals are a bit better in the mix and we get to hear Peter’s unmistakable voice. In the new Paul Stanley biography, on your book stands now, I felt he kind of berated Peter’s playing, while he would struggle at being a technically perfect drummer this clearly shows how powerful a player he was and more than makes up for it with passion. He does some MC during the middle of the song and starts a chorus of “Fuck You “, he mentions The Daisy as they are in obvious preparation of the June 1973 gigs there. While the song is certainly not a contender to put on a recording it does serve to get the audience rocking. Another highlight of the tape is Acrobat, commonly referred to as Love Theme From KISS. Thankfully the song is linked with Your Much Too Young and is a real barn burner, Peter gets a quick mini solo and the band sounds almost like they are jamming a bit as they lock in and really pound out the main riff and Ace rips a classic solo. At the song’s conclusion all that is left to do next is push play and do it all again.
The packaging is beautifully adorned with posed shots of the band from January of 1974 with Paul in his bandit make up, during the time of this recording the band had not yet finalized their make up designs or stage attire. There are a few shots of the band in early make up on the inside and it does come with the highly coveted sticker. While the recording is a short 35 minutes, the content more than makes up for it although the Eddie Kramer Demo’s or the 1973 New Years Eve recording would have been great filler. I was reading one web site and they claim this tape and the Daisy gig were released by someone close to the band during this time frame, whatever the case what better way to celebrate KISS being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 40 years as a band than to not read about petty squabbles but rather turn up the real deal and rock the F*** out. Another great release from Zodiac.