Released on September 10, 1975.
Alive! peaked on Billboard's chart at # 9 and stayed on the charts for 17
weeks. It was also to become the longest-lasting album by the band to sit
on Cash Box's Top 200 album a total of 110 weeks and peaking at #9. The single,
"Rock and Roll All Nite" (live) backed with the original studio version of
the same song, broke throuhg Billboard's Top 40 singles, staying a total of
10 weeks and reaching as high as #12.
Alive! was the first album from the band to go Gold, then platinum
and then double platinum.
Alive! was the first album by KISS to feature additional freebies.
The gatefold album contained a full-color booklet with live photos of the
band members. Front cover of the Alive! booklet pictured above.
Eddie Kramer, who produced Alive and Alive II, Comments On Alive!
In the recent issue of
Home Recording magazine producer/engineer Eddie Kramer was asked about recording
live albums. A couple of names were dropped and KISS was mentioned, since
he was the chief producer and engineer on both KISS ALIVE and KISS ALIVE II.
When asked if any overdubs were used, he mentioned that since KISS was "all
over the bloody place" on stage, it was very hard to be perfect and thus
there was a lot of sloppy playing and missed vocals. He also stated that KISS
was not very "tight" musically and that the entire KISS ALIVE album except
for the drums were all overdubs. The interviewer had said that the album couldn't
really be "Alive" then, Eddie replied, "Hardly".
According to Gene Simmons own autobiography Kiss and Make-Up, "There have always been rumors that the Alive! record was substantially
reworked in the studio. Its not true. We did touch up vocal parts and fix
some of the guitar solos, but we didn't have the time or money to completely
rework the recordings. What we wanted, and what we got, was proof of the band's
rawness and power." (Kiss and Make-Up, Gene Simmons, p.111)
According to Ace Frehley, "The recording and remixing of 'Alive!' has been the subject of endless speculation and gossip over the years, so I'll try to set the record straight...With a KISS concert, the mission was accomplished on a nightly basis. That's what he wanted to project with 'Alive!'–the sense of fun and excitement and energy that was such a big part of the KISS experience. Eddie (Kramer) wanted that too; he also wanted to make a record that sounded great. In order for that to happen, he explained, some minor adjustments would have to be made...We all went into Electric Lady (Studios), and for the better part of three weeks we tinkered and tweaked...and sometimes completely overdubbed songs. None of us got off the hook completely. There were times when Eddie was unhappy with Paul's singing or Gene's singing. While he was generally pleased with my solos, I didn't nail every note as well as I might have. Sometimes Peter's tempo was off just a bit on the drums. As the studio sessions went on we became increasingly flexible in terns of what we considered to be acceptable doctoring. We all agreed that Eddie had a strong ear and a great production sense. We trusted that he could bring 'Alive!' to life in a way that would please our fans without compromising our integrity. Eddie wanted a record that seemed like a live album, that reminded people of how it felt to be at a KISS concert...without having to indulge the imperfections of a live performance. Does that mean it's a fake? I don't think so...Eddie was absolutely right. There was no escaping the fact that the original concert recordings needed...enhancement."
-No Regrets, Ace Frehley, p134-136
"The things that mattered most to him as a producer–precise playing, clear, pitch-perfect singing–were secondary to us. Not that we didn't want to hit the right notes...but the reality of playing in a theatrical rock band is that mistakes are not uncommon. A live setting is a different animal than a studio. When the audience is screaming and your running all over the stage, sweating and exhausted, your heart racing, things go by in a moment that would be unforgivable in a studio setting. The audience rarely even recognizes the clunkers–they're too caught up in the show.
-No Regrets, Ace Frehley, p134
According to Peter Criss, "In September of 1975, our lives were forever changed. That was when our Alive album was finally released. It was a crazy time for us. We had tried and failed three times to capture the vibrancy and immediacey of the band on record. We were a huge-sounding heavy metal band on the road but on the albums we sounded so small. So when Eddie Kramer agreed to come out on tour with two trucks to record us, we were exstatic."
-Peter Criss, Makeup to Breakup, p. 107
"Alive was crafted to sound like it was recorded in one night at Cobo Hall in Detroit, but we actually recorded a bunch of shows. Then (Eddie) Kramer went back to New York and began culling the best performances. Picking out the best drum tracks was the first step. Once you had the drum track, then you could sweeten everything else. If you had to throw on a new lead, you could. Throw on some bass, add some rhythm guitar, all possible. In the end we wound up keeping only my drum tracks, my vocals, and Paul's between-song raps. Everything else was re-created in the studio."
-Peter Criss, Makeup to Breakup, p. 107
According to Paul Stanley, "People have argued whether Alive! is a purely live recording or somehow enhanced. The answer is: yes, we enhanced it. Not to hide anything, not to fool anyone. But who wanted to hear a mistake repeated endlessly? Who wanted to hear an out-of-tune guitar? For what? Authenticity? At a concert, you listen with your ears and eyes. A mistake that passes unnoticed in the moment lives forever when recorded. We wanted to re-create the experience of our show–whatever needed to be done, we did it. The flashpots were enhanced with recordings of cannons, because that's what they sounded like in person. The audience was jacked up to immerse the listener in the crowd. It was the only way to replicate our concert-on-steroids. We figured people who celebrated with us at a concert wanted to hear what they remembered, what they perceived...We couldn't have picked a better person to do KISS Alive! than Eddie Kramer."
--p173, Paul Stanley, Face the Music-A Live Exposed, 2014
"The result–basically the entire show we were doing at that point–captured the sonic magnitude of KISS live."
--p174, Paul Stanley, Face the Music-A Live Exposed, 2014
Alive! was the first KISS album to feature free goodies as part of the package
(the 8 page full color photo book) and set a trend for the group to give the
fans something extra with each succeeding album. The first pressing of the
cd didn't include any of these photos. The Remastered Series includes all
the photos as part of the booklet.
Alive! peaked on Billboard's chart at # 9.
Alive! wasn't expected to sell well because not only was it a live album,
but a double album as well (i.e. more expensive).
Alive! was recorded
as a means to fulfill contractual obligations with Casablanca Records. Because
the first 3
albums sold poorly, Alive! would quicken the band's progress in fulfilling
album quotas with Casablanca before moving to another label. Fortunately for
both Kiss and Casablanca, Alive! took off with "Rock and Roll All Night"
as the lead single. Alive! was also released as a result of KISS being dropped
from tours because headliners were constantly being upstaged by the band.
The Japanese version of Alive! was subtitled Crazy Beast (Running Amok)
5 shows were recorded for the album - Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan;
Tri-Cities, Wyoming; Wildwood, New Jersey; and Springfield, Illinois.
picked Alive! as the second-best album of the year behind Led
Zeppelin's 'Physical Graffiti.'
to Kiss Discography