After over a year of reviewing everything Kiss and pretty much everything in my collection, we are finally to very last Kiss record in the collection…I am sure it won’t be the last as they will release more over the years to come and I will add them to the series. For now, this is it though. Kiss has finally realized they can make money on these Kiss Bootlegs that are out in the wild by finally releasing their own Bootleg Series called “Off the Soundboard”. First up for them is the show from Tokyo 2001 which is a short era of the band that has little to no representation anywhere else. It was with the line up of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, of course, but also features Eric Singer on drums and Ace Frehley on lead guitar. This line-up was only around a very short time right after the first Farewell Tour that was really a farewell to Peter. And it is this line-up that is the major selling point which is why they highlighted it on the front cover.
The album came out last month on June 11, 2021 and it is great to go out on the Review Series with a new release, but do note, I would’ve bought it no matter what. The packaging is really fantastic and yet very simple. Kiss brilliantly gave the set a look like it was really a bootleg. It looks like cheap cardboard box with everything just stamped on to the box. It looks cheap and yet it is that cheapness that is the brilliance. The vinyl are on a white label that looks like the info was also stamped and typed on to it which gives it even more of a bootleg feel. If it is going to be an official bootleg, make it look like one and they did. I hope this is the beginning of a lot of great shows that are out there in the bootleg world and yet we will get a cleaned up mix with some great sound and this one is a perfect start.
The show for this release was on March 13, 2001 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. This was actually part of the Farewell Tour and really close to the end. As I mentioned earlier, by the time this show was done, Peter was gone and Eric Singer was brought in. This set list is impressive. It contains 21 songs and includes all the solos, the great Paul Stanley banter and all mistakes which is exactly what you want from a bootleg. The show is over 2 hours long and does cover 3 LPs. Kiss didn’t skimp on this release in the least.
By the end of they Dynasty Tour, the Kiss Empire was eroding quickly. Between Ace’s and Peter’s drinking problems (among other things), the band was at an all time low. During an interview on October 31, 1979 on the Tom Snyder Show, Ace was totally hammered and you could see the faces of Gene and Paul and they did not look altogether happy. Pissed is a probably a good word for it. And let us not forget Peter during the Tour. By the end, he would make so many screw-ups and some times would simply stop playing. Gene and Paul had had enough and so had Peter.
When 1980 rolls around, the band have to make a new album and this would become the first album without all four members of the band. Peter did not play on the album at all and there are no Peter sung songs, but he was credited to play and he was on the cover as Kiss wanted to keep the illusion going the band was fine for as long as they could. Who handled the drumming, well that would’ve been Anton Fig.
Now Ace, well, he was on the album, however, he only shows up on probably 5 of the 11 songs with the rest of the guitar parts being handled by Paul, Gene or Bob Kulick. It was becoming more and more obvious that the end was near for Ace as well although it wouldn’t be for another year or two. He somehow managed to hang in there for a little while longer.
Welcome back to Part 4 of the 6 Part series. We have already talked about the Box Set and its packaging in Part 1 and we have covered Disc 1 and Disc 2 in the set. For those, we got about 20 unreleased tracks between those two. Quite impressive. For Disc Three, we only get 3 unreleased tracks. Rather a big let down after the first two. As a result, I will also talk about the other songs on here to make it a fair representation.
Disc Three covers the years 1976-1982, which were some very rough years for the band. Coming off the fantastic Alive II album, the band released 4 solo albums, Dynasty, Unmasked, The Elder and Creatures of the Night. Creatures being the only album that was truly fantastic…one of their absolute best. The others were not so great. The solo albums were a mixed bag, Dynasty was too Disco, Unmasked was too Pop and I don’t know what the hell The Elder was (I like it better as I am older). Kiss lost a lot of fans during this era and probably for good reason.
Disc Three contains 19 songs covering all the album I mentioned above and then some. Like the albums from this time, the songs for me are a mixed bag as well. It starts off with “Detroit Rock City” and omits the opening intro which is a version I don’t have so I will gladly take it. The next song is “King of the Night Time World” off the Alive II album. This is the only live song off that album which to be honest, I am a little surprised. Instead, we get two of the studio tracks from that album which more than makes up for it as the songs are “Larger Than Life” and “Rocket Ride”, with “Rocket Ride” being one of my favorite Ace Frehley tracks. It rocks out quite nicely.