Kiss – ‘The Ritz On Fire’ – Album Review (The Bootleg Series)

I can’t believe we are on our 20th Review in the Kiss Bootleg Series. Nuts to think I’ve picked up that many. This one is called ‘The Ritz on Fire’ which is from August 12, 1988, The Ritz, New York City. A radio broadcast, from the Crazy Nights tour. This one is not the full show, but sort of a Best Of Compilation of that show. There are a bunch of different ones out there, some with full shows and some like this. I do have a show from the Crazy Nights Tour that was recorded on April 18, 1988 in Osaka, Japan, so I figured I’d grab this one as well as why not, you can never have enough Kiss Bootlegs…obviously or we wouldn’t be on #20.

I have found that this version is one of the few bootlegs that get all the packaging correct. They have the right band members in the pictures (Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick) and the right song titles and I don’t see any mistakes which is rare in the Bootleg world.

This is Kiss live much in the same vein as their current “Off the Soundboard” series in that there are no touchups, it is as you heard it when it happened and in this case as it was on the radio broadcast. The first 9 songs on this 10 song set are in order of the original setlist and it isn’t until the 10th song that it jumps ahead a number songs and plays one more. Basically, it is the first half of the show.


The show kicks off with “Deuce” and the band is tight and on fire. Gene sounds great and it is one of the great songs to kick of the show even if “Detroit Rock City” is a better choice. They go straight in to “Love Gun” and Paul sounds youthful and fantastic. Eric drives the beat and he is a more of a rock drummer than Peter ever was so no confusing the two. Bruce is technically, the best guitarist they have ever had even though he still doesn’t have Ace’s feel, his solos are his solos, no copycat going on here.

Next up is one they don’t play very often live and with Gene on the vocals we get “Fits Like A Glove”. The song is off the ‘Lick It Up’ album and they speed it up even more than it already is. They blast through it like a hot knife through butter. One of the few Gene songs from the 80’s that I thought was killer. A little rough around the edges here, but still killer. And Bruce, damn, he was so awesome to hear live. And keeping the 80’s songs going we get “Heaven’s On Fire” from ‘Animalize’ and Paul can hit that opening note still and it is a thing of beauty (unlike today). A fun track and great to hear live. And the last song on the first side is “Cold Gin” with that killer Ace riff mastered perfectly by Bruce. Gene delivers another stellar vocal performance and the band sounds like they are having fun. Let’s go back to Bruce as the solo is awesome. This whole show he nails it as his playing is exciting for me as there is character to it unlike some players.


“Black Diamond” opens side 2 and we finally get Eric Carr on vocals. That graspy vocal is great for the song and he makes it his own. You get Pauls’ opening guitar work and vocals on that first verse before it slams hard in to the rocked out part with Eric. One of my favorite songs that is played live as it is so explosive of a song.. Then we get one they don’t play very often and it is a Bruce Kulick signature song called “No, No, No” off the ‘Crazy Nights’ album and one of the best on the album. That opening guitar solo is one of the best he’s every done and throw in Eric’s frantic kick drum accompaniment and it is truly killer! Plus, Gene’s bass work on this one is sublime as well.

The band goes hardcore with “Firehouse” with that deep dark groove. The strut through it like they’d played it 1,000 times…which they have. After the siren screams and the song ends, we go back to the 80’s with the song “Crazy, Crazy Nights” which is a pure cheesed out 80’s track…no denying that. However, still a fun, fan frenzied track. The show jumps ahead about 5 songs in the setlist to end this album with “Strutter” which gives us our 5th song off their debut album and you know what…I’m okay with that. It is as hard and heavy as ever and it such a great gritty riff that it gets stuck in your brain and you sing with the riff when Bruce plays it. Not a bad song to go out on actually.

One of the nicest things about this live set is it excludes “Rock & Roll Night”. The full show has it, but this 1 LP version of it does not and I am perfectly fine with that omission. Overall, the sound quality is fantastic, the guys sound really great and the songs on here are a great selection of tracks from the band up to that point in time. My Overall Score is a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it is a good one, but wish it was the full show.

The Bootleg Series:

  1. Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
  2. Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
  3. Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
  4. Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
  5. Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
  6. Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
  7. Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
  8. Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
  9. Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
  10. Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
  11. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
  12. Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
  13. Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
  14. Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
  15. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  16. Kiss – Black Diamond: Lafayette Music Room, Memphis, TN April 18th, 1974 – FM Broadcast
  17. Kiss – End of the Road: In Allentown 2020 (PPL Center, Allentown, PA, 4th February 2020) (End of the Road Tour) – Blu-Ray
  18. Kiss – ‘Monster Tour: Simpsonville 2013’ (Charter Amphitheatre at Heritage Park, Simpsonville, C – 13th August 2013) – Blu-Ray
  19. Wicked Lester – The Original Wicked Lester Sessions (Bootleg)
  20. Kiss – The Ritz on Fire (August 12, 1988, The Ritz, New York City. A radio broadcast – Crazy Nights Tour)

28 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘The Ritz On Fire’ – Album Review (The Bootleg Series)

  1. This is actually missing quite a few songs. My CD version has 18 tracks. Sorry John this is where we disagree! The packaging may be good but it should have been a double so my score would be 1/5!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I got the full show which I reviewed last year which I think is on triple vinyl….my copy if you recall has them in makeup lol Great set list etc and Gene forgetting the words that is live which is great..

    Liked by 1 person

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