Saturday 12 June 2021

Album Review: KISS - Off The Soundboard - Tokyo 2001


01. Detroit Rock City
02. Deuce
03. Shout It Out Loud
04. Talk To Me
05. I Love It Loud
06. Firehouse
07. Do You Love Me
08. Calling Dr. Love
09. Heaven's On Fire
10. Let Me Go, Rock 'n' Roll
11. Shock Me / Guitar Solo
12. Psycho Circus

01. Lick It Up / Bass Solo
02. God Of Thunder / Drum Solo
03. Cold Gin
04. 100,000 Years
05. Love Gun
06. I Still Love You
07. Black Diamond
08. I Was Made For Lovin' You
09. Rock And Roll All Nite

As you may know, Kiss (alongside Judas Priest) is my favourite band and I've adored them since I was a kid. I've seen them countless times, have all of their albums, a few bootlegs, and all kinds of bizarre Kiss merch I've acquired over the years. When I heard that they were going to do a series of 'official bootlegs', starting with Tokyo 2001, I pre-ordered a CD immediately. What's money for, right?

Anyway, before I get stuck in to my review, I want to say how much I love this idea. Many bands moan about bootlegs, so why not beat the bootleggers at their own game by releasing official versions? There's obviously a demand for the products and Kiss are simply meeting that demand. To be honest, I'm surprised they didn't do something like this years ago. After all, when Gene Simmons smells dollars, he's usually there like a bloodhound. Just joking, we all know that Paul Stanley is the real decision maker in Kiss, and he's made a great decision here with this series.

Kiss have always received grief for releasing live albums that are far from completely live. I think a lot of that is jealously under the guise of a desire for authenticity, as Kiss are so successful. Both Alive and Alive II are undeniably legendary albums and sound great, capturing the spirit and magic of Kiss live shows, even if they were mostly recorded in the studio. Personally, I don't care. I'd rather have a fake live album that's enjoyable to listen to than an authentic recording that sounds like crap.

OK, so let's look at Kiss - Off the Soundboard - Tokyo 2001. First of all, I want to point out that I pre-ordered the two-CD set for a very reasonable £10.99. Yes, the artwork is very basic, if you can even call it artwork, and there's just print and no photos in the card wallet, but I think that adds to the 'bootleg vibe' of the album. It's a deliberately no-frills affair, cheap and cheerful. 

The gig itself was recorded at that awkward time in 'Kisstory' when the reunion was falling apart, Peter Criss had been replaced by Eric Singer who was now in the Cat-Man make-up, and, although Ace Frehley played this show, he'd leave the band in February the following year. 

The positives of this tumultuous era are that Eric Singer is clearly a way better drummer than Peter Criss, and Eric's power-house, rock-solid drumming is very apparent on this recording. Also, Kiss were starting to bring in deeper cuts from their repertoire, and not just songs from the classic line-up era. Those shackles had been broken, and Kiss fans could expect a few surprises in the set again, after hearing the same songs over and over for the previous few years. It was fantastic to hear songs like I Still Love You, Heaven's On Fire, and Lick It Up again. One of the highlights of this release is the Ace-fronted Talk To Me, which I'm pretty sure hasn't been released live before.

All of the obvious Kiss classics are there as expected and sound absolutely electric. Yes, I have countless recordings of Detroit Rock City, Shout It Out Loud, and Rock And Roll All Nite, but it's always nice to hear them again, especially in a context such as this killer live album.

The biggest surprise about this record is the sound quality. I don't think anything has been re-recorded, but it has had a professional mix and master to make it shine. It sounds fantastic. I may even like it more than the 'official' live albums. 

I have no doubt that this show was cherry-picked as it was a particularly on-point show from the tour, but that's surely a good thing. It represents Kiss at their best from that point in time. It's a rock-solid release and makes me genuinely excited for what's to come next from this series. Hopefully something from the Revenge tour will be released at some point. 

Hopefully, the days of unlistenable bootlegs are a thing of the past, and the legendary shows that were lost in bad, amateur, bootleg mixes will be brought back to life and presented properly.

Kiss may have had their fair share of detractors over the years, but records like this prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are one of the best and most important Rock bands in history. 


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