Fresno Alive (Tarantura TCDKIS-15)
Selland Arena, Fresno, San Francisco, CA, USA – Wednesday August 17, 1977
(56:07) Monitor Check, Introduction, I Stole Your Love, Take Me, Ladies Room, Firehouse, Love Gun, Hooligan, Christine Sixteen, Makin’ Love, Shock Me, Guitar Solo, Detroit Rock City, Beth, Black Diamond
KISS released their sixth studio album in late June 1977, Love Gun was unique for a few reasons. Firstly it shipped with Platinum sales status, KISS were at the height of their American popularity. The album would also feature guitarist Ace Frehely’s vocal debut on Shock Me and most significantly it would be the last studio album to receive participation from the original four members of the band. The tour to support the record was short, more like a continuation of the Rock And Roll Over tour as the band would hit markets in Canada and the West Coast, areas they did not play on the RARO tour. Dubbed the Can Am tour, the Canadian leg was extensive and by the time the band would make their way to California the decision to record shows at their three night stand at the Forum in Inglewood (L.A.) for what would become their second live opus, ALIVE II, were in place. Just prior to that run of shows, the band would play the 7,400 seat Selland Arena in Fresno, this concert is the source for this new release from the folks at Tarantura.
While the recording from Fresno has circulated in the tape trading circles it has been seen a vinyl or CD release. The recording is good to very good, there is a bit of hiss but nothing that interferes with the listening experience. The audience recording is well balanced and all instruments are discernable and it has the perfect mix of music versus audience to have a great vibe as KISS hysteria was in full swing. If anything the recording is just a little fuzzy for lack of a better word, it is also incomplete missing about a quarter of the show. Missing songs are I Want You, Calling Dr Love, Shout It Out Loud, God Of Thunder, and Rock And Roll All Nite, what is left is KISS at their very best and the band deliver a superb concert.
The venue is confirmed during the introduction, I Stole Your Love has taken over the opening spot and is very effective, Take Me follows hot on its heels. The set lists for this tour would feature heavily on the Love Gun record and its predecessor Rock And Roll Over with a couple Klassics mixed in for good measure. Paul’s first rap of the night has him telling the audience that if everyone loosens up a bit, the girls can meet him in the Ladies Room, the song hits a great groove but is only a prelude to a powerful version of Firehouse that really delivers in getting the audience wild, Ace plays a superb solo and they go crazy when Gene breathes fire. Paul introduces the next song as the title track from their new album, in the following years he would use a much longer wrap that would get almost x rated, but for now the band would let the music do the talking. By far the strongest song on the new record, Love Gun hits on all fronts, great lyric, great riff and Ace plays a perfect solo that can only be called intense.
One glaring omission on ALIVE II was the next song, Peter Criss’ autobiographical song from Love Gun aptly titled Hooligan. The song is great live, the version featured here finds the band delivering the goods and it has a great feel live. Peter’s vocal is great and he is in great voice and in one of my favorite versions. “Bad bad Christine Sixteen”, crazy to hear songs like and even the Rolling Stones’ Stray Cat Blues where bands would talk openly about under aged love. Peter’s drumming is great on this song, he hits it to take the band out of a long pause to perfection, sadly his drum solo is missing from this recording I would have liked to hear as he is having a great night. Makin’ Love sounds like a proto metal version of Zep’s Whole Lotta Love and has a great swagger to it, the new songs have fully developed live and the timing to record the second live album was perfect as the Californian concerts are certainly high points of the tour.
The band is plagued by feedback at the beginning of Shock Me and the bass frequencies are close to overloading the recording also but it clears by the time Ace takes his first solo but this version sounds a bit tentative and disjointed. It is not until the band jam that leads to Ace’s solo does the band clear the cobwebs so to speak. As usual Ace delivers a “smoking” solo, since he is the only player on stage the recording is excellent and we can enjoy it in his full glory. The band returns to end the song and Paul shouts “Ace Frehely” and the tape cuts in the loud cheer and the band hammer into Detroit Rock City, while the cut does omit several songs, according to the KISS Alive Forever, the songs do not circulate or are lost. Whatever the reason the edit is handled smoothly. Peter gets his second solo spot and turns in a typically heartfelt version of Beth that leaves the audience clambering for more and become impatient as the chants of “We want KISS” echo through the arena. The beginning of Black Diamond sound eerie but as the band break into the song the audience responds loudly, Peter gives a typically great vocal delivery on the song, sounds damn good to my ears. The song is given the usual bombastic finale, a well played and enjoyable concert.
The packaging is typical Tarantura, a gatefold sleeve with live shots of the band from the tour, the rear cover shot of Peter’s levitating drum riser is superb and a reminder of what made the Love Gun / ALIVE II concerts so visually incredible. Tape Archivist DJ Fresno gets a credit, he was also involved with a couple of the label’s Rainbow titles a few years back. I was more than pleased with the recording, a more than listenable recording of a superb show, brought to the collectors market in typical Tarantura fashion.