Kiss’ career defining album, Alive! , was released 40 years ago this September. After their first three studio albums (Kiss, Hotter Than Hell & Dressed to Kill) all failed to make an impact on the charts, Alive cemented Kiss’ legacy in the pantheon of rock n’ roll.
Alive capitalized on Kiss’ amazing live shows, catapulting the album to number nine on the charts and becoming a multi-platinum best seller.
Over the years, the album has come under fire for its authenticity. Is it actually a live album? The album’s producer, Eddie Kramer, and all four founding members of the band (Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley & Peter Criss) each acknowledged the use of overdubs on the making of Alive.
Gene Simmons has gone on record, when speaking to VH1, saying that Kiss’ onstage performances at that time were simply too untamed to expect complete and flawless takes. “In those days, I’d be taken over – I’d be possessed, and I’d make tons of mistakes on my bass,” he said. “I remember talking back stage with the guys, and everybody agreed that we would jump around less – that we would try to hit the notes more.”
Paul Stanley in his 2014 book, Face the Music: A Life Exposed, made no apologies. “Yes, we enhanced it – not to hide anything, not to fool anyone,” he said. “But who wanted to hear a mistake repeated endlessly? Who wanted to hear an out-of-tune guitar? For what? Authenticity?”
For better or for worse, Kiss Alive is still considered an essential listen but is it an actual live album? That’s the million dollar question because if a band goes into the studio and re-records sections of songs, by changing the out of tune instruments or vocals, does the album still remain live? I’m still on the fence with this but I love album nonetheless.