Release Date: September 10, 1975

Credits: The original KISS lineup (Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss) as captured and enhanced by legendary producer and engineer Eddie Kramer

Backstory: Although the band got together in Queens, New York, in 1973 — and put out three records, gaining plenty of press in the meantime — by 1975, KISS was struggling. They were known more for live shows (and makeup, and pyrotechnics) than for skill in the studio, and their onstage antics kept getting them fired as openers. That would change when Kramer, who had also recorded their first demo, was finally able to capture the kinetic vigor of their live set on this double album, recorded live during four dates on their 1975 American tour. Finally, they could headline their own arena tours, and it was so popular that they set a precedent for ’70s hard rock acts — after Alive!, everyone from Rush to Cheap Trick to Peter Frampton followed suit.

New album, new life: All the songs, including future classics like Firehouse and Strutter, had been previously released, but on Alive! they took on the raw emotion their studio versions lacked. This album’s cut of Rock and Roll All Nite, in particular — with the addition of Ace Frehley’s searing guitar solo — became the definitive version.

 The KISS Kontroversy: No one denies that there were some overdubs on the album — the question is how much. “It’s anything but flawless,” Paul Stanley said. “If we wanted a really flawless record, we would have doctored it up, but it’s as close to live as it needs to be.” Gene Simmons claimed ignorance, saying, “It happened so long ago … but I think by and large what you heard is what you got.” However Ace Frehley and Eddie Kramer would later admit that large swaths of the album were recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York’s Greenwich Village. “We all went into Electric Lady,” Frehley wrote in his autobiography, “and for the better part of three weeks we tinkered and tweaked … and sometimes completely overdubbed songs. None of us got off the hook.”

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