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.
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.
I have been a huge Ace Frehley fan since I was probably 8 years old. He was my very first guitar hero. I had only seen him play with Kiss and I have never seen him love as just Ace Frehley. When I saw he was opening for Alice Cooper, I couldn’t click the purchase ticket button fast enough. This was also the first concert I had attended since Covid began around 19 months ago so it was even more exciting.
The concert began at 7:30pm on October 7, 2021. We arrived in plenty of time because I was damn well sure going to make it to see the opening act, because, well, as was the opening act. We stand in line to get stamped with proof of vaccination (or proof of negative covid test) and then go in line again to go through the metal detector and all good so far. I don’t know why I said “so far”, because we ran in to ZERO issues all night. It was supposed to rain…None! The weather was a little chilly, but felt great. We hit the restrooms (TMI) and then went and bought some bottled water…except…they don’t sell bottled water anymore…WHAT!!! Nope. It is now in a can…huh???
Yes, they sell water in a can now so I guess non-drinkers don’t get harassed for not drinking as it looks like a beer can. I have to admit, it looks pretty damn cool for water. We then hit the merch table and there were a ton of Alice stuff and only a little Ace, but I saw Alice 3 years ago almost to the day, so I went with the Ace Shirt. They were already out of XL size, so I went 2XL and I hope it shrinks…
The 2000’s have seen Kiss release more live albums, greatest hits packages and box sets than Studio Albums. And this particular release has sat on the shelves for six years because one thing or another got in the way. The album was recorded on December 31, 1999 and January 1, 2000 at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada and consisted of the original band members of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. The original intention for this album was to be released as Kiss Alive! IV, but there was a problem and it got shelved because the record label, Mercury, was being gobbled up by Universal in a giant merger. Then a few years later, Universal agreed for Mercury to release it, but the band was working on the Symphony show which would become Kiss Alive IV. One thing after another kept pushing this release back. Thoughts were that it wasn’t a good show, but I think it was bad timing.
The album would see a release on November 21, 2006 when it was included on the box set Kiss Alive! 1975-2000. That box set included Alive!, Alive II and Alive III as well and since those have already been reviewed, I went with just reviewing the Millennium show as that did get a separate vinyl release of its own.
One of the cool things about this release is that there are three songs on here that had never been played by all 4 of the original members. You get “Heaven’s On Fire” and “Lick It Up” both from the non-makeup era that Peter and Ace were not on and you get “I Love It Loud” which Peter was not on and Ace was credited on the ‘Creatures of the Night’ album but reality proved he didn’t play on it. However, the opening track on here is “Psycho Circus” and Peter and Ace actually didn’t play on that song either even though it was the “Reunion” album.
We have come to the end of Tuesday’s Memes. I started it with a little Kiss, so I will end with a little Kiss. I have been doing this for 3 years I believe so it is time to come to an end. These are a huge draw to the site, but I am bored with them and need to change things up a little. So for one last time…
“You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best, The Hottest Band in the Land…KISS!!”
On February 18, 1974, the world received their first Kiss album, simply called ‘Kiss’. But not many people took notice. It only sold around 70,000 copies at the time and quickly faded into existence. But hold on, before we get in to the album, let’s go back to the first Kiss show one year earlier on January 30th, 1973. For that show, the band didn’t really wear any make-up. They had their name, but were just setting out and didn’t know who they were yet. They had the drag/glam look going for them, but the make-up progressed rather quickly. Each member was discovering their personalities….The Demon (Gene), The Starchild (Paul), The Spaceman (Ace) and the Catman (Peter). Over the next year, they would settle on who they were and so much more. And who were they? They were the following:
Paul Stanley – The Starchild
Gene Simmons – The Demon
Ace Frehley – The Spaceman
Peter Criss – The Catman
In early March, the band would finally decide on the make-up, then about a week later, they entered The Daisy in Amityville, NY with famed Led Zeppelin producer and recorded a five song demo. The same 5 songs we talked about briefly on the Wicked Lester demo album from last week.
Then shortly after that, they were doing a showcase in the Summer and they meet a lad named Bill Aucoin who would become their manager and change their life forever. But before they signed with Bill, they said he had 2 weeks to get them a record deal. Not much time for anyone, but for Bill, he made it work. The band would be the first band to sign with Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Record label on November 1st, 1973. Quite a busy year. And yes, I skipped so much, but this isn’t a history lesson, this is an album review. So why don’t we get to that part now.
On April 1st, 1974, Kiss played at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio. It was broadcast live on the radio and we have that show captured right here on another in the Bootleg Series. This is probably one of the most famous of the bootlegs and one the band seems to like as well.
Kiss was signed only 6 months earlier on November 1st, 1973 to Casablanca records and Casablanca was heavily promoting them and this bootleg contains 3 such promotions. The Agora Ballroom show, 3 songs from the ABC In Concert performance from March 29th, 1974 and their appearance on the Mike Douglas Show on April 29th, 1974. It is Kiss at their infancy.
The recording is from a broadcast and it is sounds really great. Now do remember that this is a bootleg and so the sound isn’t perfect, but I think it is a true representation of the band’s live show and how cool to have such an early show. The sound is a little flat as the bass is a little understated (okay, a lot understated) and only one strong guitar sound (Ace). The guys are eager, they are hungry and they are tearing it up. There are no explosions, no one is breathing fire, it is straight up Rock & Roll. Well, there is the siren for “Firehouse”, but that is it.
The next in the Kiss Bootleg Series is a show from March 19th in 1975 on the Dressed to Kill Tour. The show was at the Roxy Theatre in Northampton, Pennsylvania and is actually opening night of the Tour.
As usual, we will start with the packaging and what this bootleg has to offer. First, it is a double LP, however, they skimped and there is no Gatefold to be had. It is actually a pretty flimsy album jacket and I don’t think it will hold up over time. The back cover is another live shot of the band but you can’t see anyone’s face. Not the best choice for a picture.
The album came with a couple surprises. The first being a collection of Kiss photographs from an L.A. photoshoot at the Playboy Club Rooftop on January 16th, 1974. The photos came in a nice little mailer as seen below…
We are up to the fifth album in the Bootleg series and we are still on the albums I found in Paris back in April. And since it is July 4th, I thought what is more American than July 4th…well KISS!!!
This was was from September 14, 1974 on the Hotter Than Hell Tour and it was recorded at The Victory Burlesque in Toronto, ON, Canada. This was actually a warm-up show for the tour, one of two nights (not sure which one). This was also about a month before the Hotter Than Hell album came out.
As usual, before we get into the music we will talk about the packaging and what was offered with this set. First off, this was a single LP and not a double like all the others as this was only a 9 song set as you have to remember this was only 1974 and Kiss hadn’t been around very long with only 2 album to choose from at this point. The packaging was quite simple. The front (as seen above) is a very early shot of the band before all the glitz and glamour. The back is a great shot of the band on stage (what show, I do not know for sure…we will assume this one, but I am sure it is not).
The vinyl sleeve is a nice solid cardboard sleeve that is very sturdy and has more great pictures.
For My Sunday Song #131 and for the next 10 songs, we are celebrating the songs of Kiss!! Now that Kiss has started their Farewell Tour, I thought I would honor some of my favorite Kiss songs. There will be No “Beth”, No “Detroit Rock City” & NO “ROCK & ROLL ALL NITE”!!! Sorry, not my favorites..,well Detroit is one but too obvious a choice. We will start it off with “Black Diamond” from the debut album ‘Kiss’.
Black Diamond was written by Paul Stanley and it was about New York as were a lot of their songs. This one was on the seedy side of it at least. It is about street hookers and the queen of them all, the Black Diamond. Stanley has been quoted as saying this was partially inspired by the Rolling Stones classic “Brown Sugar”.
Lyrically there is not much there, but musically…Damn!! What a way to close out your debut album. The song kicks off with Paul Stanley on vocals for the first verse while playing an acoustic guitar. He screams “HIT IT!!” and all hell breaks loose. Peter Criss takes over vocals and the song kicks in to full gear with his pounding drums, Gene Simmons’ thumping bass and Ace Frehley’s frenzied guitar.
The guitar solo is top notch and I love how it ends with the heavy ass bass sound with the ominous sounding drums as it gets slower and slower and then fades out. It is amazing how so few lyrics can turn into a song over 5 minutes long and when the play it live it is even longer…live is a whole other story. Don’t get me started on how great this song is live. They used to close their live shows with this one a lot.