After the passed down early Beatles and Monkees records from my older sister, the most influential album of my young life was Alive! the breakthrough 1975 Kiss album:
I say “breakthrough” because this was the first album I remember infiltrating the ranks of my rural Elementary School psyche… Someone’s older brother got a copy for Christmas of 1975 and the hype spread like wildfire!
Many of us congregated in Robby Martin’s basement and listened to this record over and over again in the winter of 1976.
The fan magazines of the time spun National Enquirer-esque stories about aliens and rituals and how the newly formed KISS Army were affiliated with the Nazis!
I don’t remember ever being approached to join the Nazi Party as a 10 year old, but I was entranced by all the pictures of the Spaceman shooting fire from his guitar, the Demon spitting blood on the stage the Catman’s elevated drum kit and the girls going crazy over the Starchild.
This was like a Marvel comic book coming to life and playing the most anti AM radio rock and roll I had ever heard!
We tried to emulate the bands costumes, in our own 10 year old ways, by strapping tin cans to the bottom of our sneakers to make platform soles and breaking into our sister’s makeup drawers to steal our face paint…
For all of 1976 I spent every penny I had on magazines and posters of the band. The fake wood paneling in on the walls of my room it became a veritable shrine for Kiss. I couldn’t get enough!
I begged my parents to buy me a copy of Alive! but had a trouble convincing them that there was no funny business about belonging to the KISS Army.
I don’t remember when Kiss became uncool to my peers and I. It may have been after the 1977 Kiss comic book debacle when the band donated vials of their blood to be mixed with the red ink, it could have been when Gene Simmons hooked up with Cher, it might have been the obvious sell out of Kiss Alive 2.
Most likely it was puberty! I eventually took all my kids posters down and replaced them with the iconic Farrah Fawcett poster. I also took all my accumulated Kiss records and sold them, unceremoniously, at a yard sale one summer.
I have been searching for a decent copy of Alive! for the past year. I finally found one at the local use record store Groove Merchants.
It still amazes me how after 40 years I can still remember much of the onstage banter and the order of songs and how they were supposed to sound together.
I think we all know that this album is not a musical masterpiece, but to a 10 year old kid living in the sticks, still reading comic books and watching the Creature Feature on Saturday afternoon TV, this was as good as it gets!