KISS – Alive II (1977, Casablanca)
- Detroit Rock City
- King Of The Nighttime World
- Ladies’ Room
- Makin’ Love
- Love Gun
- Calling Dr. Love
- Christine Sixteen
- Shock Me
- Hard Luck Woman
- Tomorrow And Tonight
- I Stole Your Love
- God Of Thunder
- I Want You
- Shout It Out Loud
- All American Man (studio track)
- Rockin’ In the USA (studio track)
- Larger Than Life (studio track)
- Rocket Ride (studio track)
- Any Way You Want It (studio track)
Total Time = 1:11:26
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that my all-time favorite live album is ALIVE II, I think I’ve told the tale about my early induction into the KISS Army many times. I enlisted in 1977, at age 5, with ROCK AND ROLL OVER after pestering my mother in a local department store but I really didn’t start listening to the album, or Rock music, for a few more years. I just knew I had to have that album. Around 1980/1981, I started to get seriously into music through my weekend trips to the record stores…..that’s where I saw ALIVE II.
Back in the day, I saved my allowance and lunch money to buy music. I bought cassettes (tapes) 99% of the time because they cost somewhere between $6.99 and $8.99 depending on the shop. If I saved my lunch money for the week, and my allowance for doing household chores, I could easily put $15 to $20 together! That’s two tapes and a magazine or a poster! My real education came from scouring through racks and racks of vinyl. Records were still the medium of choice for most people and stores dedicated much of their floorspace to vinyl. Vinyl was also where the selection was, you could find almost every album from each band in the record racks. Everytime I walked into a record store I always went to the KISS section first and studied each album. I knew the artwork, songs, band members, etc. and I always made sure that I filed each album chronologically just so other shoppers could see everything in the proper order. I did the same thing in the cassette section of the store…..I’m sure the store clerks thought I was crazy! For me this was extremely normal because this was how I decided to buy my KISS albums! I had to have them all in order so I could make a proper choice.
I bought ALIVE II in 1982. At the time, I had four KISS studio albums on cassette: ROCK AND ROLL OVER, KISS, DESTROYER and LOVE GUN…..bought in that exact order! ALIVE II had the songs I was familiar with from DESTROYER, ROCK AND ROLL OVER and LOVE GUN so it was the obvious choice when faced with the ALIVE! (1975) vs. ALIVE II debate. This was a double album (2 LPs or 2 cassettes) so the price was higher than a single — $13.99! I remember it like it was yesterday…..I would sit staring at the 2 tapes packaged together with that yellow price tag with the double price. I could buy two different KISS albums for the same price, I could buy two tapes of any band for the same price, this was one album. Obviously, I knew that there were two albums worth of songs on there but, in my mind, they all added up into one album. After weeks of procrastinating, I finally caved in and bought it.
I played ALIVE II over and over thrilling to hear KISS in concert on my stereo. This was my only chance to hear what the original KISS was like live because both Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were out of the band in ’82, even though Ace was pictured on that year’s new album CREATURES OF THE NIGHT. The great thing about ALIVE II was that each studio album was represented equally by 5 songs, that gave a solid variety for me because I owned those three albums. For my money, it couldn’t get any better than hearing the band open with ‘Detroit Rock City’ and careening into ‘King Of The Nighttime World’ with Ace’s lead. Then getting two songs from ROCK AND ROLL OVER with ‘Ladies’ Room’ and ‘Makin’ Love’ was my personal highlight because they came from my favorite album. Side 1 ended with ‘Love Gun’ and I would just hit rewind and listen to it again before moving on to Side 2. Back when I was a kid, I liked all the live songs but today I’m a little more selective. The album is still the best but I could do without ‘Calling Dr. Love’ (Side 2), ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ (Side 2) and ‘Beth’ (Side 3). I never liked ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ even on LOVE GUN, ‘Beth’ is just overplayed nowadays when you hear KISS on the radio, and I absolutely can’t stand ‘Calling Dr. Love’ live anymore. I used to think the song was cool but now I skip it when I listen to an album it’s on and I take a break during the song when I see the band perform in concert. Best songs on the live sides to me are ‘I Stole Your Love’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’, then all of Side 1!
I played Sides 1, 2 and 3 of the cassettes daily but I virtually ignored Side 4, the studio tracks. As I became a more seasoned KISS fan, I revisited the 4th side and I like most of the studio songs. ‘All American Man’ is a typical Paul Stanley rocker and my second favorite original on this album. ‘Rockin’ In The USA’ is one of those Gene Simmons throwaways that reminds my of ‘Kissin’ Time’ from the debut album, it’s a gimmick track. The second Gene song is ‘Larger Than Life’ and it’s another typical Gene sex innuendo song and it’s only marginally better than ‘Rockin’ In The USA’. Ace Frehley’s ‘Rocket Ride’ is the jewel of the five studio songs and I still wish that it could have been on the LOVE GUN album, it would have made the album so much better. ‘Any Way You Want It’ is a cover song originally done by The Dave Clark Five and it reminded me too much of the terrible ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ on the live part and was a partner to the cover tune that ended the LOVE GUN album: ‘Then She Kissed Me’. ‘Any Way You Want It’ is a waste and totally unnecessary, I skip it to this day.
Back when I was a kid, I didn’t know much about the history of the album. Thanks to KISS konventions, KISS fanzines/books, and the Internet, I know all the stories about which tracks were seriously overdubbed and who did or did not play on the studio side. Today it’s all well documented but I prefer to remember the thrill of hearing my favorite band in concert with fresh ears. I played that album so much that I’m surprised I didn’t wear the tapes out. I still have those cassettes today and I have a few other formats as well: I own the original pressing gatefold vinyl with all the inserts, I have the original CD issue, and the 1997 remastered reissue CD. I used to have a copy of the Japanese paper sleeve remastered reissue from around 1997 or 1998 but I ended up selling that on Ebay for double what I paid for it.