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KISS Alive II 35

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Just three years ago, KISS began celebrating the 35th anniversary of their most acclaimed album: Alive!. The band toured the world playing the majority of the album in order and KISS fans poured out of the woodwork to catch this very successful tour.

There's no doubt that Alive! is a great album. It has been said that it may be one of the best live albums ever recorded. However, some within the ranks of the KISS Army (including myself) feel that Alive! is not the best live record in the band's catalog.

I present to you, KISS' finest live album:

Alive II opens up with so much energy that it practically melts your ears! KISS proves they mean business from the opening riffs of "Detroit Rock City" and puts together a blistering audio assault that extends all the way though to the bombastic conclusion of "Shout it Out Loud".

If you were lucky enough to own the vinyl LP, you were treated to one of the coolest stage photos ever seen. As a kid, I can remember marveling at this epic shot and imaging what a KISS show was really like.

One of the main differences between Alive! and Alive II is that this album features many of KISS' biggest singles: "Detroit Rock City, "Love Gun", "Calling Dr. Love", "Beth", "Hard Luck Woman", "Christine Sixteen" and "Shout it Out Loud." Aside from "Rock and Roll all Nite", many of the songs on Alive! are fairly unknown the average Joe.

Hits aside, some of best songs on the album can be found are scattered in between including Paul Stanley's "I Stole Your Love", "Makin' Love" and "I Want You." Each one is a fiercer, superior version of their original studio counterpart.

No song in the KISS catalog benefits more from the live treatment than "God of Thunder." The version on Destroyer is a plodding track marred by echo and the strange voices of little kids. This version features a faster pace, a devastating riff and animalistic vocals by the world's most famous Demon.

One of the coolest things about Alive II is that it features a song by every band member. Fans were finally able to hear Ace Frehley take to the microphone and croon his debut KISS song, "Shock Me", which concludes with a brief, but scorching guitar solo. And while Alive II's version of "Beth" isn't nearly as polished as the studio version, hearing the crowd clapping in unison and screaming at the top of their lungs really helps give it a charm of its own.

When it comes down to it, the reason I believe that Alive II is superior to Alive! is simply because the live versions of these songs are almost all better (and many significantly better) than the studio tracks. While the performances of the songs on Alive! are admittedly great as well, the studio versions of those songs are as good or better.

So cheers to Alive II on its 35th Anniversary -- at least according to KISS' accelerated calendar -- and let's hope that there will be an Alive II 35 Tour in the near future!

Alive II:

1. Detroit Rock City
2. King of the Night Time World
3. Ladies Room
4. Makin' Love
5. Love Gun
6. Calling Dr. Love
7. Christine Sixteen
8. Shock Me
9. Hard Luck Woman
10. Tomorrow and Tonight
11. I Stole Your Love
12. Beth
13. God of Thunder
14. I Want You
15. Shout it Out Loud


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