This broadcast recording is unique for its time. This August 1988 appearance was Kiss' first club date for 15 years; the venue was The Ritz, then on East 11th Street, in New York City. The gig was arranged as a warm up for Kiss' appearance at the UK's world-renown Donnington Festival scheduled for a week later. So, superbly captured here - by local radio station WNEW - is a rare opportunity to hear this major stadium-level band at full-blast in a small capacity nightclub.
Gene Simmons (vocals, bass) and Paul Stanley (vocals, rhythm guitar) first got together in a New York City band called Wicked Lester in 1971. They played a handful of shows and recorded an album for the Epic label, which remained unreleased. In 1972 they had recruited lead guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss and renamed themselves Kiss (Criss had previously played in a band called Lips). Their debut gig was in January 1973, and by March the band had decided to adopt garish stage make-up and super-hero style characters and costumes to distinguish themselves from their peers; thus Simmons became 'The Demon', Stanley 'Starchild', Frehley 'Spaceman' and Criss 'Catman'. Musically and visually the band were inspired by hard rock but tempered by the trashy glam theatricals and punchy rock'n'roll of the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper.
Kiss live gigs soon became a maelstrom of blood-spitting, fire breathing, guitar-smashing and explosive pyrotechnics. Their record releases began to build momentum, beginning with their eponymous debut in 1974 and 'Hotter than Hell' later the same year. 1975's 'Dressed to Kill' was their best effort yet and reached number 32 on the US charts - it also featured the band's anthemic Rock And Roll All Nite. A live version of the same number drawn from the subsequent 'Alive!' album (1975) was issued as a single and became the band's first Top 40 chart entry; the album itself went Gold and served to really break the band into the big time.
Kiss was extremely productive and hugely successful. The albums 'Destroyer', 'Rock And Roll Over', 'Alive II' and 'Love Gun' all went platinum and were all issued between 1976 and 1978, as were simultaneously-released solo albums from each member of the group! After such a flurry of creativity, they cut back a little, but throughout the 1980's they consistently put out a new album every year, a work rate alien to most of their peers! But there were casualties; by 1988, Frehley and Kriss were long gone, their positions now occupied by Bruce Kulick and Eric Carr.
The live set here draws material from across Kiss' entire career to date - from the eponymous debut album come no less than five mighty tracks: set opener Deuce, Cold Gin, Black Diamond, Firehouse and Strutter. From 1975's 'Dressed To Kill' comes the perennial live favourite Rock And Roll All Nite. Shout It Out Loud and the closing Detroit Rock City are both from 1976's 'Destroyer'. There's a track apiece from 1976's 'Rock And Roll Over' and 1977's 'Love Gun': Calling Dr. Love and the title track respectively.
Moving into the next decade, 'Creatures of the Night' (1982) is represented by War Machine and I Love It Loud; and 'Lick It Up' (1983) by Fits like a Glove and the title track. Heaven¿s on Fire is drawn from 1984's 'Animalize'. Finally, the latest album released before this concert took place, 1987's 'Crazy Nights', contributes No No No, and Crazy Crazy Nights.