Fried Alive

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Released in 1976, this generally excellent bootleg LP documents one of Kiss' early shows and takes us back to a time when Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss had yet to become superstars. When Fried Alive was recorded live at Long Beach Auditorium on May 31, 1974, the band had only one album out: 1974's Kiss. In fact, most of the seven songs that Kiss performs in Long Beach are from that self-titled debut album, including "Black Diamond," "Deuce," "Firehouse," "Strutter," "Nothin' to Lose," and "100,000 Years." Stanley doesn't do nearly as much talking as he would at future shows, and Fried Alive gives the impression that in May 1974, Kiss hadn't fully mastered the art of putting on a show. Nonetheless, the band really tears into the songs, which become more metallic on-stage than they were in the studio. The only thing on Fried Alive that isn't from the Long Beach show is "Rock 'n' Roll All Night," which was recorded at a San Diego concert in 1976 and doesn't sound nearly as good as the rest of the album. While the Long Beach performances were obviously recorded from the venue's soundboard and boast good sound quality, "Rock 'n' Roll All Night" has lousy sound and was no doubt recorded using a crude mono home recorder. But because the Long Beach gig takes up most of the LP, Fried Alive was worth the price of admission back in 1976.