Alive! is the first live album, and fourth overall, by American heavy metal band KISS. It is considered to be their breakthrough and a landmark for live albums. Released on September 10, 1975, the double-lp set contains live versions of selected tracks from their first three studio albums, "Kiss", "Hotter Than Hell" and "Dressed to Kill". It was recorded from concerts in Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Wildwood, New Jersey; and Davenport, Iowa.
Despite their reputation and success as a live act, which emphasized theatrics as much as it did music, their notoriety did not translate to increased record sales. Fans told the band that their albums were not capturing how the band sounded live, so the band decided to release a live album. KISS was essentially surviving on then-manager Bill Aucoin's American Express card. Complicating matters was the fact that their label, Neil Bogart's Casablanca Records, was having financial difficulties of its own stemming from a major misstep. The label had released a double album of Johnny Carson monologues earlier in the year. However, the album was a flop, but Casablanca had pressed millions of copies in anticipation of it being a strong seller.
Casablanca, however, did think a KISS live album would be a respectable seller. The album outperformed expectations as it was certified gold, becoming both KISS and Casablanca's first top 10 album. Years later, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons recounted that in the weeks after the release, they saw a significant increase in concert attendance. In the documentary KISS: X-treme Close Up, Stanley remembers that at one particular show in Dayton, Ohio, "the place was packed; I mean you couldn't have gotten another person in with a shoehorn".
The album's title was an homage to the 1972 live album Slade Alive! from the English rock group SLADE, a band that heavily influenced KISS.
There has been considerable debate as to how much use was made of studio overdubs. In his autobiography KISS and Make-Up, Simmons stated that very little corrective work was done in the studio and that most of the studio time was devoted strictly to mixing down the multi-track recordings. He also emphasized that KISS could not have done extensive overdubbing even if they had wanted to; thanks in no small part to the Johnny Carson album fiasco, the extremely meager budget allotted to the band simply would not allow it.
According to Dale Sherman's book Black Diamond and Goldmine magazine, in the early 1990s, Eddie Kramer stated there were a few overdubs to correct the most obvious mistakes: strings breaking or off-key notes, for instance. However, in recent years, Kramer has stated that the only original live recording on the album is Peter Criss' drum tracks. Stanley has noted that there is a bass mistake in the choruses of "C'mon and Love Me". He has also made comments that even though there have been live albums recorded later that make Alive! sound like it was recorded in a washroom, he has no qualms about it. Criss has also claimed, in his 2012 autobiography Makeup to Breakup, that the only original live recordings on the album were his drum tracks.
During the program Classic Albums, the band members all stated that while many changes had been made, such as overdubbing vocals and mixing together various crowd sounds to get a more amplified sense of the "live" sound, they considered the changes minor. In particular, they stated that they only altered the noise of the crowd to better capture the feel of the actual performances, since the raw recordings only dimly picked up the audience. They also stated that they had difficulties capturing vocals due to the natural jumps, dancing, and other stage activities.
Alive! was actually the first Hard rock "Live" album that I bought when I was a kid long time ago. Ace was my star icon and I remember when I was playing air guitar to Ace riffs, magic times :)
Alive! have been played more than I could ever count, the copy is still in my collection, but it's so worn out that I couln't get a dollar for it. "Alive! remains KISS' greatest Live album ever" even if I do like Alive II aswell, but there is so much innocent, rawer sound on this one, and not forget all the memories that this Live recording have even if it seem like a joke, mainly because it contains every arena rock cliche in the book it's still one of the biggest highlights in my youth concerning the band KISS.
Alive! contains all the biggest tune from the first 3 records like "Rock and Roll All Nite", "Deuce", "Strutter", "Firehouse", "Parasite", "She", "100,000 Years", "Black Diamond" and "Cold Gin"
Sum: An essential addition to any rock collection.
Today's tune "Black Diamond", one of my favorites on the album is a song written by rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley. "Black Diamond" was written almost exactly as it is, he said, "except that the riff wasn't there; Gene Simmons brought that part in… It's all about arrangement and embellishment. That's what you're supposed to do in a band: come in and add something. But that doesn't mean you wrote the song."
The song is the closing track on the band's eponymous first album, KISS, released in 1974. It begins with an acoustic opening sung by Stanley before a furious riff enters, accompanied by Peter Criss on lead vocals. It fades out with Ace Frehley's solo, in a sort of studio trick. The song is also characterized by its noticeable use of chorus, and its ending. The taped studio version was slowed down almost to a standstill. The live version is usually sped up in tempo, combined with stage pyrotechnics and a rising drum platform.
The band would often play "Black Diamond" to close their concerts. Even after Criss left the band, the song was still performed, featuring his replacements Eric Carr and Eric Singer on lead vocals during their respective tenures with the band.
Todays tune i a live tape from Midnight Special, 1975
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