Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis, TN – December 2, 1976
Side A (18:55) Detroit Rock City, Take Me, Let Me Go Rock And Roll, Strutter, Ladies Room
Side B (20:23) Firehouse, I Want You, Hard Luck Woman, Do You Love Me?
Side C (18:20) Cold Gin, Ace Solo, Gene Solo, God Of Thunder, Peter Solo
Side D (18:04) Rock And Roll All Nite, Beth, Makin’ Love, Black Diamond
For my first review for 2018, I thought I would go back to a title that was released a little more than a year back, one that was certainly deserving of attention. Released in late fall 2016, this KISS double LP set quietly appeared but certainly piqued my interest. The recording comes from very early in the Rock And Roll Over tour, and more importantly features a newly surfaced upgraded recording.
Let’s start with sound quality. The recording is an audience source that easily falls into the good category, for me just missing the very good grade. It is slightly distant yet clear and very atmospheric with the vocals and Ace’s guitar clear and the bass is desernable as well, the drums being the most difficult to hear but turn this up, they are there. Due to limitations of the recording device, there is a bit of distortion, but overall a very easy listen and it sounds good when you turn it up. The audience goes nuts for the whole show so the atmosphere is electric, several times someone has to come on stage and tell the audience to sit down and clear the aisles, KISSteria! The pressing of the LP’s is excellent, very clean. Strutter and Hard Luck Woman appeared as bonus tracks on the excellent KISS Karton (The Godfather Box G.R. Box 07).
This concert is notable for a couple reasons, first off the opening act was originally supposed to be Tommy Bolin, but he cancelled and a couple days later was found dead of a drug overdose. Second this is the earliest known recording from the Rock And Roll Over tour, and most importantly features a rare live version of Hard Luck Woman, one of only a couple known to exist. The band take the stage by storm and are greeted in the land of Elvis like conquering heroes, Detroit Rock City is the opener and followed quickly by Take Me. Strutter is one of the last versions from the original era, it would be dropped within a few days and would not be played live until 1980, so this is an incredible rare version. Ladies Room features some commentary from the taper and his woman, a quick play by play so to speak. The song is unique as well as one of the last choruses features just vocals and drums, something that adds a bit of dynamics to the song.
Just after Firehouse, the announcer comes back on to say “The Fire Marshall has threatened to pull the plug and stop the show” followed by the man himself (Fire Marshall that is, not Elvis) comes onstage and the audience give him some sort of obscene gesture, I am sure if you use your imagination you will figure it out. The highlight of side B is certainly a great version of Hard Luck Woman, one has to wonder why this did not stay in the set, it is great and sounds easy to play and Peter’s vocals are spot on.
Side C starts with Cold Gin, the audience still sounds nuts and they love Ace’s solo, he is ripping the leads and they scream during his entire solo, there is a cut towards the end of his solo that leads directly to the full band ending of Cold Gin. Gene’s solo is next, you can feel the anticipation and you know when the blood comes, his solo leads directly into God Of Thunder and Peter’s drum solo. Damn I love this era of Live KISS, Peter’s playing is so powerful as his solo showcases his use of his massive drum set as he is cheered on by the insane audience.
The main set ends with Rock And Roll All Nite, one needs to remember that at this time the song was the show stopper, this version has the crowd clapping and singing along in full on party everyday mode and at times they are as loud as the band! The band leave the stage and the crowd claps and chants “WE WANT KISS…WE WANT KISS…”. Beth is the first encore and the audience is quiet for Peter’s ballad, well quiet until the end and then it’s full on crazy again. Makin’ Love is in a rare encore spot, it would be moved up to mid set within a month’s time. The finale is of course Black Diamond, the band deliver the last song to an almost tired sounding audience, they were certainly the fifth member of the band on this night. Just a superb concert, while the band is still playing live and the groups KISStory features many members, the power and mystique of the original four can never be overshadowed.
The packaging is a beautiful full color gate-fold sleeve adorned with live shots from the tour, the stage shot on the rear is a really nice classic picture with the KISS Army banners on each side of the stage. The LP’s are crystal clear with blood spattered vinyl, what one would expect from a KISS title. The LP sleeves are housed in full color sleeves with each band member getting a side with their autograph on it as well. All this excellence is limited to 500 copies and is certainly worth seeking out.