In my quest to get as many Kiss Bootleg’s I can, I found this one in a local record store, new and sealed. And cheap. This is actually an easy one to get if you are collecting Kiss Bootlegs. I think I paid $25 for it. There is nothing really special about this one, no inserts, no picture sleeves and no surprised in the package like I have received in a lot of my bootlegs. This one is rather generic. For historical reasons though, it is pretty cool. The recording is an FM Broadcast from April 18, 1974 in Memphis, TN at the Lafayette Music Room and is one of the earliest recordings of the band.
Soundwise…well…let’s just say there is sound. This is a recording off a radio broadcast on to a tape. That tape was then copied, which was then copied, which was then copied, which was then copied and keep going for another dozen copies. There is a massive tape drag at several points during the show which slows the song down and it is quite noticeable. That proves that the source material was from an old tape that had been copied many times. Yes, the sound sucks at times and might be on the low end of some of my bootlegs, but I am still okay with it and because I collect them I will buy regardless.
If you look at the setlist, you will notice a few things stand out. One is they basically played the entire debut album with a few minor exceptions. Two, they play the song “She” which won’t come out until 2 albums later on ‘Dressed to Kill’. And Three, they play a song called “Acrobat” which is actually the basis for the song “Love Theme From Kiss” from the first album. This is two months after the debut album release, so it is strange they played the “Acrobat” version and not the album version.
The album and set opens with “Deuce” and boy can you hear the tape drag on this one, pretty drastic. But you can still make out the song and hear Gene just fine as it is in the instruments where you have the issues. Nothing is real clear except the vocals. Towards the end of the song, it clears up and gets a little louder and that cowbell comes in nicely. “Strutter” is up next after a slight pause and you get more wobbly instruments and even a little on the vocals this time around. Paul sounds like he is singing the song so much slower. Again, you are buying this strictly for the historical value…that is what I keep telling myself anyway.
“Firehouse” sounds great and I happy with that version. It is an untouched, live version warts and all and it is quite enjoyable. Ace’s solo sounds good and you get a glimpse of the band doing what they do best with no real hiccups. The cool song on here is “She” as I said it hadn’t even been released yet on an album. The guitar opening on it sounds a little slower and I am guessing that is the tape drag as there is a lot of wobble. But vocally again, sounds good. Gene is menacing as ever and Paul on background duties. The coolest part is the instrumental break/guitar solo as it isn’t what we get later. This the reason to buy this release if you need one. And last up for Side 1 is the badass song “Nothin’ to Lose”. And by this time you are used to the wobble and so it starts sounding pretty decent (okay, decent enough). I love this song as you get both Gene and Peter on vocals (and Paul is heard pretty good on backing vocals). I love Peter’s gritty and raspy old school singing on this one. Always fun.
Side 2 kicks off with the Ace Frehley penned song “Cold Gin” (after the radio DJ does a station break), but with Gene on vocals as Ace wasn’t singing this early on in the band. Now, I did get to see Ace do this one this past Summer when he opened for Alice Cooper but that is another story. I really love this song but I will say this version seemed a little flat and not sure if that was the band or the recording itself. After a little tuning, we get Gene’s bass and some thumps until they become “100,000 Years”. Paul sounds fresh and youthful and can do some great ooh-yeahs back then.
Another favorite of mine to hear live is “Black Diamond” even with a DJ interrupting the opening notes for a station break. The tape is wobbly again as it sounds a little funky and messed up, but it is still “Black Diamond”. I love the slow opening and then the bombastic explosion for the rest of the song. Plus, the instrumental break and solo are always great. An all around fantastic song every time I hear it. The song ends the broadcast. Then the show announcer comes back and the band is tuning their instruments a little they go in to what is labeled as “Acrobat” but it cuts out the “Love Theme From Kiss” parts off and is just the band jamming. Peter has a little drum solo piece then the band kicks in and they jam out, all instrumentally and then they start singing only a little. There are very few lyrics and they sing “You’re much too young” a couple times and then they go back to jamming and we get a killer guitar solo piece as well. Then Paul says “Good Night” and it is all over. Fun track.
Despite the tape drag and the wobbly sound in out at times throughout, I still find this an enjoyable most especially for an early version of “She” and for the encore with “Acrobat”. It is also a cool historical piece to have anything live and uncut from 1974 with them really just getting going. All-in-all, it turned out to be an okay show as you get used to the sound issues and you enjoy it for what it is. I can’t give it too high of a score, but I will give it at least a 2.5 out of 5.0 Stars (but it should get more for the two songs I mentioned – maybe a 3.0 to 3.5…but that might be too generous).
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Black Diamond: Lafayette Music Room, Memphis, TN April 18th, 1974 – FM Broadcast (KISS TOUR ’74)