Released: September 1975
Chart Peak: #9
Weeks Charted: 110
Certified Gold: 12/4/75
Kiss onstage could possibly be mildly entertaining for about ten minutes, but on record, minus the impact of gaudy painted faces and stage theatrics, the band must be judged solely for its music. It's awful. Criminally repetitive, thuddingly monotonous. And like the legions of equally talentless bands across the country, Kiss attempts to get by on volume and tired riffing. Unlike these other bands, however, they came up with the idea of dragging rock further into the pits of theatrical overkill, managing, in the process, to pick up a legion of young fans who hadn't heard these riffs in their previous incarnations (Grand Funk comes to mind). That Casablanca has decided to promote the band as new bad-boy teen idols is obvious from the packaging -- a glossy full-color, multipage insert showing all the Kisses in close-up, and a suitably trippy letter from each ("Dear Earthlings:... When I play guitar onstage, it's like making love... Love, Ace").
- Alan Niester, Rolling Stone, 1/1/76.
One of the premier heavy metal bands in the land are cut live on this double set in the Midwest, the part of the country they show their greatest strength in. Strong instrumental work, good raucous vocals and the crowd reaction is one of the more enthusiastic heard on any live set this year. Kiss are one of those bands, like ZZ Top, who nobody seems to know except for several hundred thousand record buyers, and while it has become fashionable to put them down, they are certainly among the best of the current wall of sound genre groups. Best cuts: "Deuce," "Hotter Than Hell," "Parasite," "Black Diamond," "Rock And Roll All Nite."
- Billboard, 1975.
There are those who regard this concert double as a de facto best-of that rescues such unacknowledged hard rock classics as "Deuce" and "Strutter" from the sludge. There are also those who regard it as the sludge. I fall into neither category -- regret the drum solo, applaud "Rock and Roll All Nite," and absorb the thunderousness of it all with bemused curiosity. The multi-million kids who are buying it don't fall into either category either. B-
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
Given the wildly inconsistent quality of Kiss' first three albums, the high quality of Alive! comes as somewhat of a surprise. Then again, Kiss were showmen, not songwriters, which means they were always at their best when they were on stage. Part of that show -- the makeup, the explosions, the lights, the dry ice -- could not be replicated on record, but the group was invigorated by the live setting, adding passion and conviction to their thunderously loud riffs. Of course, some of the material still falls flat, but most of Alive! seeths with energy, making their finest moments -- "Rock and Roll All Nite," "Deuce," "Strutter," "Black Diamond," "She," "Hotter than Hell" -- seem like hard rock classics. * * * * *
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine , The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Kiss Alive! clearly reveals that Kiss is stronger in the arena than in the studio. Previously lumbering riffs turn thunderous, the bombast catching fire on soon-to-be classics such as "Deuce," "Strutter," "Firehouse" and the anthem "Rock 'n' Roll All Night." * * * *
- Allan Orski, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
A triumph of entertainment and attitude, this definitive disc (even if it's not 100% live) does everything but put you in the front row, showcasing the excitement and raw energy that launched the national phenomenon, back when we didn't know what they looked like underneath the clown makeup, before the days of the Kiss koffin, Kiss kondoms and Kiss koffee mugs. The unkonverted kiss them off as kontrived. * * * *
- Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
"We wanted to put out a souvenir, almost like when you go to the circus," said Kiss lead singer Paul Stanley. "I really enjoy myself onstage, prancing around, shaking my ass, shaking my head, playing the guitar between my legs. I enjoy it as much as the audience. Basically, I am entertaining myself up there." This double live album, recorded largely in Detroit (with some bonus material from Iowa, New Jersey and Ohio, plus a whole bunch of studio overdubs), was the breakthrough record for Kiss, with exuberant versions of "Strutter" and "Rock & Roll All Nite," plus a classic litany of alcohol choices in the intro to "Cold Gin."
Alive! was chosen as the 159th greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
- Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
Main Page | The Classic 500 | Readers' Favorites | Other Seventies Discs | Search The RockSite/The Web