Alive II


Casablanca Records, 1977

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Imagine it's 1977. You're a manager for the band Kiss. The band's popularity has hit a peak thanks to Destroyer, but their last two albums have been dropping in quality. (Add in the rumors that there is tension within the band, and you've got a juicy timebomb that you're sitting on.) What is one to do in order to reclaim the glory that the band just grasped?

The answer might seem obvious: Kiss first grabbed the brass ring with Alive!, so why not unleash a second live set on the masses?

Well, for plenty of reasons. Alive II is a half-assed attempt at a live disc, hastily thrown together and not necessarily capturing the band at its best. And that's being kind.

Think about it. It had only been two years since Alive! had been released, so putting out a second live disc seemed to be a tad too soon. It was also the fourth Kiss album in two years - a possible sign that the band was suffering from creative burnout. (Never mind that Kiss had basically been releasing one album every six months since their debut came out in 1974.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Oh, sure, you could argue that the inclusion of five new studio tracks on side four of Alive II meant that the band wasn't running dry creatively. Granted, "All-American Man" and "Rocket Ride" are better than half of the sludge on Love Gun. But including another cover -this time, the Dave Clark Five's "Any Way You Want It" - was a sign of bad juju. (Add into this the rumors that guitarist Ace Frehley played on only one studio track - "Rocket Ride," which he also sings lead vocals on - and you've got a further sign of trouble.)

And think about it again. What new ground could Kiss break with Alive II? For an album that featured songs only from Destroyer, Rock And Roll Over and Love Gun, Gene Simmons and company had greatly narrowed their field of vision - in a sense, perhaps too much. It was a mistake to completely ignore their pre- Alive! history; if anything, Kiss should have pulled out a few rabbits that weren't taken from the hat the first time around. ("Room Service," perhaps?)

Think about it one last time. Alive! was meant to show listeners where Kiss's true energy was - on stage - and to get people interested in their three previous albums. Alive II was basically thrown together to have new Kiss material on the shelves for the holidays. Sound-wise, this is not Kiss at their best; the recording sounds quite muddy, with the crowd noise almost drowning out the band at times. There has also been the claim made that a lot of studio trickery went into getting this album ready for the masses - if so, couldn't they have cleaned up the overall sound, for Crissake?

Alive II is proof that the music industry is more about marketing than it is about the music. If it were otherwise, this disc would have been cut down and replaced with a better-sounding alternative with a better track listing - and this "studio side" bullshit would have either been eliminated, or included as a bonus 7-inch record. Kiss has yet to top the original Alive! - and Alive II suggested they were nowhere near accomplishing that feat.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Casablanca Records, and is used for informational purposes only.