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…
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.
In Part 1 we talked about the packaging and all that was included in The Box Set. Now, we are going to talk about the music. There are 5 discs included in this set and they are broken up in to certain eras/timeframes of the band. They cover from the very beginning all the way up to 1999. The set was released in 2001 so nothing from after Psycho Cirus.
First up is Disc One that covers the era from 1966 to 1975. Wait…Kiss didn’t start until 1973, how do we have stuff from 1966? Well, you will have to wait and see. The disc has 21 songs and of those, 12 are previously unreleased. And it is those 12 songs that are the prize on this release. Here is the entire track listing for this disc.
The first two songs up are demos that were done in 1973 at Electric Lady Studios with the great Eddie Kramer on the boards. You know Eddie from his work with Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix…at least you should. The two songs were “Strutter” and “Deuce”, two of the bands most iconic songs. These versions had never been released prior to this set. I think I am going to go out on a limb and mention that these versions might be better than the actual recordings on the debut album of which, Eddie was not a part. These songs had so much more meat to them. They had more edge and captured more of the band’s essence.
“Strutter” is actually from an early Gene Simmons song called “Stanley the Parrot”. They took the chord pattern off that song and turned it in to a song that Paul feels has a “strutting” feel to it and thus the name. “Deuce” was another song that was sort of a Frankenstein pieced together from a couple of other songs except these weren’t old Kiss songs. The band loosely based it off the song “Bitch” by the Rolling Stones and the beginning of the song came from The Raspberries song “Go All the Way”.
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.
The second review in the series is for a bootleg of the 1988 tour of Crazy Nights. And of course, this is another tour that I saw. This one was recorded on April 18th, 1988 at the Castle Hall in Osaka, Japan. Now, I saw the tour on February 10th at the Omni in Atlanta, GA. At my show they only played 13 songs. They played those same 13 songs in Japan plus 6 more tracks. Yes, just like the Japanese Edition of CDs, Japan gets extra tracks during live shows as well.
Now the packaging for this release is not quite as nice as the first review. It is a double LP, but not a gatefold.
There is no pictures or posters included, but it is a colored vinyl. It is a pretty white with a white label on one and a black label on the other.