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.
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…
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.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming of Tuesday’s Memes to bring you this special announcement…
August 10th, 2019, Kiss bid farewell to the city of Charlotte, NC. The End of the rode made a stop on a beautifully, hot night and a venue that holds 19,500 people was pretty freaking packed!! If it wasn’t sold out, it wasn’t by much. The place was filled with young and old alike and the costumes and make-up were a plenty including leather pants so tight, I don’t know how the women got them on (or off for that matter).
My first show was December 26, 1983 and August 10, 2019 was my last. That is according to Kiss as this is the Farewell Tour or so they say. I tried to drag my kids to it, but in the end, my oldest was the only one to go so I let her bring a friend. My youngest has a few issues with noise sensitivity and after the show, I realized, she was probably right not to go as it would have been too much for her as the explosions and music were pretty darn loud. Hell, my ears are still ringing a little this morning as I type.
With tickets in hand, we found our seats and were ready to see “The Hottest Band in the Land…KISS”
But first, we had to sit through the opening act. No, not a rock band. Nope, not a comedian either. We got the great pleasure of having David Girabaldi doing some performance art…painting. What? Painting is a performance art? I was not aware of this. David is immensely talented and whipped through 3 paintings in about 30 minutes. He did one of Jon Bon Jovi, while their music played. His final one was of Kiss which was raffled off with proceeds going to Make a Wish Foundation which is cool. The 2nd painting was of Ozzy!! And it was really great…heck…they all were. The problem was it was so boring and unexciting. The crowd liked it somewhat, I thought it sucked. I would have liked a band to play, a young up & coming band or someone that had toured with Kiss before…Actually, Bruce Kulick’s band would have be the bomb!!
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…
Back in April 2018, Ace Frehley released his first single from his upcoming (yet unannounced) album. The day was actually April 27th which was Ace’s birthday…do you think they planned that?? This the first new track since his 2014 album ‘Space Invaders’. He did have a new album back in 2016, but it was a cover’s album so nothing new there.
The reception of the new music was so great, that a special limited edition 12″ Single has now been released (3 months later). They had no intentions of releasing a physical copy of the song, but the people spoke and Ace & the record company listened and BAM!! Physical product.
I was able to pick up one of these Limited Numbered Edition 12″ Singles with the White/Black Marble vinyl. And they weren’t kidding about being numbered. I am #3701 out of #4000, I believe.
The new song “Bronx Boy” is a heavy guitar driven track…what else would you expect, it is Ace “freakin’ Frehley. There is a raw, grittiness to the song that harkens back to his early days growing up in the Bronx, New York. The song opens with a quick, nasty guitar riff and jumps right into the vocals describing Ace’s life as a “street kid” and his “street life”. The vocals are rough and classic Ace which is what is great about the song. Plus, the guitar solo is what we know and love from the Spaceman and he doesn’t disappoint.