All images courtesy of Getty Images/KISSonline
Welcome to the third article of the A Guide to KISS Bootlegs series! This article is a two-for-one special since it will be focusing on the tour KISS did in support of their third album, Dressed to Kill, as well as the shows from this tour that were recorded for Alive! This tour is very much split into two parts. The first half was essentially a continuation of the Hotter Than Hell tour and the second half, which started at the Cobo Hall show in May 1975, introduced a revamped setlist, new stage set, and costumes. Most of the recordings that circulate from this tour are true to what made bootlegs what they were back in the 70s, primarily being audience recordings. With that said, there are some very fine gems that lie within this tour. Enough of the chit chat, let’s dig right in! Or as Paul Stanley would say, “Oh yeah, so let’s rock and roll all nite, and party every day!”
The Roxy Theatre
March 19, 1975
Setlist (Second Set): Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/Nothin’ to Lose/Parasite/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/C’mon and Love Me/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll/Cold Gin
KISS performed two sets at this show, the second one being recorded. While the audience tape is a bit fuzzy in places, the vocal can be made out rather clear. What’s fascinating to mention is that after the show, the individual who taped it managed to meet Gene, Paul and Peter and recorded the conversations he had with them. This dialogue has not circulated. This show was released on vinyl under the straightforward title Northampton, PA March 19, 1975.
New York City, NY
March 21, 1975
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/Nothin’ to Lose/Parasite/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/C’mon and Love Me/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll
This show was a big homecoming for the band. It was a sold out show, there was extensive publicity surrounding it and due to high demand, a second show was added for 11pm the same night. With that said, it is unknown which set was captured onto tape. While this show is rather significant historically, the recording that circulates from this show is rough-sounding. It is overall distorted and sounds distant, almost as if the individual was seated in the far balcony of the theatre. This was released on vinyl under the title The Beacon Theatre 1975.
Fremd High School
April 19, 1975
Setlist (Partial): Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/She/Nothin’ to Lose
This audience recording tends to be a bit bass-heavy with barely audible vocals. While the show exists as being incomplete, the taper must’ve been around the high school prior to the gig. Before the show took place, they had recorded the band during soundcheck where they went through “Room Service,” which perhaps indicates that it was performed that night. The band also proceeded to rip through a jam which consisted of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” and “How Many More Times.” He also managed to meet the band and recorded his entire interaction with them, where they discussed the setlist, the newly released Dressed to Kill, and took some photos with the band members. This show has yet to see a vinyl release.
Upper Darby, PA
May 3, 1975
Setlist (Partial): Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/Nothin’ to Lose/She/Room Service/100,000 Years
This incomplete audience recording is rather decent-sounding. Both the band’s performance and vocals do appear clear with a little bit of background hiss. This was released on vinyl under the title Inferno.
DEBUNKING HISTORY: There are a number of photos that circulate which claim to have been taken from this particular show and it shows that Paul Stanley was wearing a pair of sunglasses on stage due to an eye infection while applying his makeup. I am here to state that all of those photos are mislabeled! My dad attended this show and as you can perhaps see in one of the photos that he took, Paul appears to be wearing his traditional Starchild makeup with no sunglasses on! In the above photo from the “sunglasses show,” you can see a road case on the left side of the stage with the Rush logo airbrushed on the case. The show my dad saw had Ted Nugent & The Amboy Dukes opening. To add further proof, here is his ticket stub from the show.
Long Beach Arena
Long Beach, CA
May 31, 1975
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/C’mon and Love Me/Rock Bottom/Nothin’ to Lose/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Cold Gin/Rock and Roll All Nite/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll
This show is the earliest known instance where roadie JR Smalling introduced the band onstage with the now legendary “You wanted the best…” introduction. This audience recording is another knock-out-of-the-park where the band’s performance is on point and the recording makes it out rather clear. This was released on vinyl under the title KISS at Midnight.
June 13, 1975
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/C’mon and Love Me/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Cold Gin/Rock and Roll All Nite
Here it is, the sole soundboard recording from this tour, and it is absolutely phenomenal-sounding. It is likely that “Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll” was dropped due to time constraints. This was released on vinyl under the title Tulsa Strutter.
Asbury Park, NJ
June 25, 1975
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/Rock Bottom/C’mon and Love Me/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Cold Gin/Rock and Roll All Nite/Let Me Know
This is one of the rare occasions that “Let Me Know” was re-introduced in the live set, this time around as a final encore. The audience recording that circulates from this show is a bit distant-sounding but is listenable. This was released on vinyl under the simple title Asbury Park 1975.
Wildwood Convention Center
July 23, 1975
Setlist (Partial): Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Nothin’ to Lose/C’mon and Love Me/100,000 Years/Parasite/Cold Gin/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll
This show may be recognizable because it is indeed one of the shows KISS recorded for the live album Alive! The way this show starts off is rather unique because JR Smalling doesn’t do his traditional “You wanted the best…” introduction; but instead he says, “So if you want to party with the hottest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world, you’ve gotta party with KISS!” Perhaps they were toying with other introduction prospects. Unfortunately, the bootleg recording that circulates from this show isn’t the multi-tracks Eddie Kramer oversaw for the Alive! album. With several songs missing, “Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll” being cut after the second verse and the vocals being barely audible, the audience recording leaves a lot to be desired. It only stands out due to the historical nature behind the show. It has yet to see a vinyl release.
Providence Civic Center
August 3, 1975
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/C’mon and Love Me/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Cold Gin/Rock and Roll All Nite
The setlist appears to be condensed but rest assured it is complete since KISS was opening for Black Sabbath (man, what a lineup!). The audience recording that circulates is perhaps the best audience recording from this tour. The performance and vocals appear so clear! It is quite humorous to hear some fans get grossed out during Gene’s bass solo! There are two variations of this show that circulate, both of which were recorded with Sony tape recorders and microphones. The variant attached to this article is the “Lampinski” (last name of the individual who recorded the show) version. One would think that a matrix (a combination of the two recordings) exists. It takes very careful, trained listening to decipher it! The only vinyl release this show has seen is as part of a collection of shows from the first three tours called The Originals under the title Dressed in Providence. It needs to be released separately!
Calderone Concert Hall
August 23, 1975
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/Nothin’ to Lose/C’mon and Love Me/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Cold Gin/Rock and Roll All Nite/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll
Supposedly, the taper of this show also taped the Asbury Park show from two months earlier. Even though it sounds a little distant, this audience recording is rather nice and the band’s performance can be made out quite clear. This was released on vinyl under the title Calderone Malt.
So, as you can tell, there are a couple of solid audience recordings (Providence and Long Beach) and a phenomenal soundboard recording (Tulsa) to sink your teeth into. The rest are for the absolute diehard KISS Army members, but do provide some interesting listens as various songs got swapped in and out of the live set. But wait, we’re not done yet! Let’s take a deep dive into one of the seminal and most important live albums of all time…
There were five shows from this tour that were recorded for the live album Alive!, which were as follows:
Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI, May 16, 1975
Music Hall, Cleveland, OH, June 21, 1975
RKO Orpheum Theatre, Davenport, IA, July 20, 1975 (two shows)
Wildwood Convention Center, Wildwood, NJ, July 23, 1975
It has been stated that some studio trickery was involved when it came to producing the album, whether it be fixing mistakes, re-overdubbing vocals, or amplifying the sound of the audience. I am certain that the multitracks still exist in the archives and if they do, they shockingly have never hit the bootleg circles. With that said, there are a few recordings out there that come from the shows recorded for Alive! that give us an undoctored/alternate view on what they sound like. Lets dig right into them!
King Biscuit Alive
Hotter Than Hell – Wildwood
Firehouse – Wildwood
Black Diamond – Wildwood
Let Me Know – Cleveland
Rock and Roll All Nite – Cleveland
These recordings come from a DIR King Biscuit Flower Hour program that was broadcasted on November 9, 1975. The reason why it has earned the nickname King Biscuit Alive! is because the programming consists of recordings that are from the shows recorded for Alive! There is some speculation as to if these are undoctored recordings taken from the shows. On tracks such as “Hotter Than Hell” and “Firehouse,” you can hear Paul’s original live vocal faintly bleed through in the background and over the top it is his newly overdubbed vocal. In cases like that, these can be seen as rough mixes. The real treat of this broadcast is “Let Me Know,” a song that did not appear on Alive!
Rock Band DLC
The rhythm video game Rock Band offers downloadable content through online services that users could purchase and play on their respective video game consoles. In 2009 and 2011, Rock Band uploaded several live KISS tracks, all of which are taken from the shows that made up Alive! Right off the bat, “Deuce” and “Strutter” sound like alternate mixes with the vocal overdubs. However, the same can’t be said for the rest of them! “Parasite,” “100,000 Years” and “Rock and Roll All Nite” are true, undoctored raw recordings. There are frantic drum fills that Peter does in “Parasite” that I don’t recall hearing on the Alive! album. Paul’s vocals on “100,000 Years” are on the weaker side but the stage rap during Peter’s drum solo is completely different. Gene flubs the lyrics on “Rock and Roll All Nite” and the gang vocals in the chorus are more lackadaisical.
One can say that recordings of “Room Service” from Davenport and “Two Timer” from Detroit exist in the vaults. These tracks, which were claimed to be recorded at those respective cities, appeared on the 1996 compilation You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best! But we’re not even going to talk about those obvious 1996 vocal overdubs…
All of these various recordings can be found on one of the best modern KISS bootlegs called Alive! The Outtakes. While listening to these recordings in the present day, we can understand that Eddie Kramer and the band were striving for perfection while putting together this album. People may think that touching up live recordings is sacrilege but in the case of Alive!, it was all about recreating a live experience and they sure as hell lived up to that experience. Now one can hope that these multitrack recordings will get a release someday in the form of a box set. Who wouldn’t buy it?!
Stay tuned for my next entry in the A Guide to KISS Bootlegs series, where things are about to become “Alive!”
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