Kiss – Alive!
The cover says it all: coloured lights, dry ice, flash bombs and Kiss in all their gaudy glory. But behind the greasepaint, spandex and platform heels, there lurked a ferociously good rock band, as proven by every one of the 16 songs on Alive!
By 1975, Kiss had three studio albums under their belts, so they could cherry pick the best songs for a storming live set. Controversy still continues about how much was really recorded “live”, but the simple truth is the versions of the songs on Alive! have a raw drive and power to them that the studio versions lack and, while the band’s lyrics straddle the divide between sexy and sexist, there is an enormous sense of fun to the music: the band clearly love the songs they are playing and are hungry for a greater audience, and this infectious combination of good times and relentless ambition is the core of the album’s appeal.
So, how did the album help shape The 109s’ sound?
Hearing the way Stanley, Simmons and Criss combine their voices on the album convinced me that harmony vocals were going to be at the heart of The 109s’ sound. The album also influenced my guitar-playing in a number of ways: the dual-harmony lines in “Watchin’ You”, the funky counterpoint in the verses of “100,000 Years”, the succession of riffs and dynamics that brings “Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll” to its epic conclusion.
And then there are the solos. While Ace Frehley is far from being my favourite guitar player, he plays a no frills style of lead guitar that is relatively easy to learn, and from which fledgling guitarists can easily lift licks to add to their own palette.
I know I certainly did.