KISS – Off The Soundboard: Poughkeepsie, New York, 1984
Release Date: 07/04/23
Running Time: 01:19:00
Review by Simon Black
Many people I talked to back in the day generally had two things to say about KISS. Firstly, that the album that really got them into the band was 1977’s “Alive II”; secondly that they were way, way better in their make-up days. Now, I’m a bit of an old fart, if truth be told, and the sad part of that statement in that context is that even though I caught the back half of one of the genre’s heyday’s in the 1980’s, that still made me too young to catch KISS at their original best. I didn’t actually come across them until 1987’s “Crazy Nights”, which despite having a hugely successful single in the title track did nothing for me. “Never mind”, thinks teenage me, “They’re supposed to be good live, so let’s see how they fare at Donnington”. The answer was sandwiched on the same bill as a top of their game Iron Maiden and David Lee Roth in 1988, not so well.
So, I pretty much ignored them until an old friend and also Paul-a-like of KISS tribute band Dressed To Kill dragged me to their inaugural show. Now being a tribute, he and the band were out to recreate exactly the look and feel of that 1977 classic live album, to the point where my eyes and ears were opened, and I went back and listened to them again for the first time properly. I promptly worked my way through the back catalogue, and I’ve been a fan ever since, but for me things really started to go downhill after “Dynasty”. The mid-1980’s may have seen some solid radio hits, but this was an act trading on the past and with only half the original line-up in tow, and we’re still a full twelve long years until pride and egos are swallowed down enough for them to become their own tribute band and re-form and re-mask.
So, this live album, buried in an archive somewhere for thirty years, is possibly coming at the point of greatest interest for me in Kisstory. But. It’s them in their absolute best possible spot – playing live to a packed out and appreciative crowd, and after a shaky start they do not disappoint.
As the title implies, this is a rough and ready mix straight off the mixing desk snapshot and so far the fifth of such releases in the series. Hailing from the analogue days, this makes it quite challenging to polish and mix to modern standards, and is certainly missing the benefit of a full multi-track live recording desk that had been planned and rehearsed within an inch of its life for one of the many Alive sessions. Frankly though, it’s no worse than the bootlegs the fans will have paid out for in the dim and distant past, and the advent of digital analysis software means that it can be deconstructed and polished a lot more than a bootleg ever could, whilst still capturing the feeling of the time.
It does have more than a few rough edges, however. Paul Stanley’s voice takes an age to warm up, and with an awful lot of bum notes mixed in there in the first half of the show, but his banter with the audience and their response clearly indicates that no-one either noticed or cared. Equally the roughness also means that the tape ran out halfway through ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’, but hey, it’s at least authentic. The unique selling point for KISS Army types is also the only downside for me, in that there’s a lot of material from contemporary “Lick It Up” that hasn’t aged so well, but since this is probably the only commercially sanctioned live release for this era, then snap it up they will regardless, which is exactly the point of all these releases in the set.
What it lacks compared to the polish of the Alive series, it gains in historical verisimilitude and to be honest has pulled the same trick “Alive II” did and made me go and listen to the rest of the set. And yes, there is one from that period too…
01. Detroit Rock City
02. Cold Gin
03. Creatures Of The Night
04. Fits Like A Glove
05. Heaven’s On Fire
06. Guitar Solo
07. Under the Gun
08. War Machine
09. Drum Solo
10. Young and Wasted (Incomplete)
11. Bass Solo
12. I Love It Loud
13. I Still Love You
14. Love Gun
15. Black Diamond
16. Oh! Susanna
17. Lick It Up
18. Rock And Roll All Niter (Incomplete)
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar,
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass Guitar,
Eric Carr – Drums, Backing Vocals
Vinnie Vincent – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.