Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast – Plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review

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.

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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.

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Kiss – North Hampton, PA March 19 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review

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.

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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…

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Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review

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).

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The vinyl sleeve is a nice solid cardboard sleeve that is very sturdy and has more great pictures.

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My Sunday Song – “Black Diamond” by Kiss

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.

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