Kiss/ Love Gun Deluxe Edition (Casablanca/ Mercury/ Universal, 2014; original album released 1977)
Kiss...oh how this band has bled me dry over the course of my life. This marks the eighth time that I have owned this album. My first copy on LP was a gift on my fourth birthday in 1977 (Mom, what were you thinking, putting me on this path which has led to my eternal damnation?), then a Columbia House cassette copy with a sticker label, late '70s (my Mom may have forgot to return the card on time?), eight track cartridge purchased in the '90s, a cassette copy purchased in 1987, original CD purchased in early '90s, Japanese remastered CD in LP-style card sleeve circa 1996/97, US remastered CD in 1997, and now this 2 disc Deluxe Edition. Yes, I love Kiss. Yes, I obviously hate my money, which is a prerequisite of being a member of the Kiss Army, you know. All children in the late '70s were indoctrinated by Kiss and Star Wars. So severe was the cultural penetration that it swallowed us all whole, and to this day Star Wars and Kiss remain beloved symbols of our childhood.
The main album is, of course, absolutely brilliant. While many of the OG members of the Kiss Army went AWOL during this era there were so many new fans that it would be several years before the fallout would become apparent. I know someone who saw them at Cobo Arena on the Alive! Tour in January of 1976 and he said that this was the album where he bailed. Fuck that Christine Sixteen shit. Girly music, he says. Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, man. So spoke someone who was there at the time. I Stole Your Love, Tomorrow And Tonight, and Plaster Caster are among the greatest songs ever written. I just wish that the CD label was a replica of the original vinyl label. The reremastering doesn't sound too different from the 1997 remastering, maybe a little flatter on the EQs but nothing too noticeable. If you were not happy with the remastering before you won't be now.
Disc Two is the real draw, as we get three unreleased songs from the Love Gun sessions. Much Too Soon, a sort of Stonesy throwaway; Reputation, which would go on to become Radioactive on Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album; I Know Who You Are, which would become Living In Sin, also later found on Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album. The other demos are interesting but not essential. The Gene Simmons Radio Interview from Montreal 1977 shows that Gene Simmons has been laying his line of bull on folks for a long, long time. Love Gun (Teaching Demo) shows the inner workings of Paul's mind as he wrote the song. It is obviously sourced from a cassette but that is part of the charm, like he is sitting in a hotel room calling out chords and notes as he maps out the song in his head. Fascinating.
The three live tracks show just how “sweetened” Alive II is. We all know that Kiss did a lot of rerecording of that “live” album in the studio and that it is not at all indicative of the summer 1977 setlist. I wonder if they did any further tinkering with these here? My guess is probably. I would love to see a series of true live album from every tour released.
The packaging is one of those cardboard tri-fold digi-paks with two plastic hubs. There is a booklet with all kinds of cool pictures and notes, including the original cover pitch which was rejected. There is a magnet replica of the original popgun, which is cool. My only complaint is that the BANG is absent, whereas it is included in the booklet of the 1997 remaster.
So yeah Kiss, you got my money again. I can't wait to buy the entire catalog yet again in this deluxe format. Kill me now.
Junk Food For Thought rating- Main album: 6 out of 5. Disc Two- 4 out of 5.