After Kiss’ first three studio albums failed to capture the public’s imagination on a national level, manager Bill Aucoin and Casablanca Records CEO Neil Bogart hatched a plan: Not only would a live album be cheaper to record than a studio album, but it would capitalize on the band’s formidable live reputation. Recorded across four stops on the Dressed to Kill Tour—Detroit; Cleveland; Davenport, Iowa; and Wildwood, New Jersey—Alive! boasts 16 tracks from Kiss’ first three albums. It’s also loaded with “post-production”—i.e., extensive studio overdubs recorded at Electric Lady in New York. In fact, only Peter Criss’ drum tracks remain intact from the original concert recordings—even the crowd noise was doctored. Not that it matters. Alive! was a massive success, staying in the charts for more than two years, and turning Kiss into rock superstars. The live version of “Rock and Roll All Nite” remains the group’s best-known song; even the band members can barely recall the studio version. They closed their sets with it for the next five decades, right through to their final live performance. Yet it’s not even the best track on the album: “Deuce,” “Black Diamond,” “Hotter Than Hell,” and “Parasite” all smoke. And let’s not forget Paul Stanley’s hilarious and weirdly clueless banter concerning alcohol—at the time, he rarely drank—in the introduction to “Cold Gin.” Released in September of 1975, the album’s title is a nod to British glam kings Slade, favorites of Kiss who’d released the live album Slade Alive! three years prior. In turn, the success of Kiss’ Alive! set off a double-live-album avalanche over the next five years, as some of the biggest names in hard rock—Zeppelin, Rush, Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, and UFO—followed suit.

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