After three rather lame studio albums and one ground-breaking live album, Kiss were still on the cusp of success.
Their fourth album could not have been more important for them. With so much relying on this album, record company Casablanca brought in über producer Bob Ezrin to take control. This he did in his usual meticulous fashion. Once recorded, the members of Kiss likened the experience to Musical Boot Camp.
The album was recorded from scratch, with Ezrin rejecting most of the songs the band had prepared. As a producer, he was brutal. When Ace Frehley was just not up to the job of the solo on Sweet Pain, his work was simply replaced by session guitarist Dick Wagner. He also brought in sound effects, orchestration, and choirs.
The results were spectacular. The rockers thundered and the ballads wooed the soft rock audience. Beth, an extremely soppy ballad from the pen of drummer Peter Criss, was a smash hit single. The rockers are still main staples of the stage show to this day.
Within six months, the album had gone Platinum saving Kiss and their record company.
Now 45 years later, it’s getting the big box set treatment. There are two versions: the Deluxe Version and the Super Deluxe. Well, naturally, I’ve gone for the Super Duper all flags flying edition.
What do you get? Well, a book, posters, membership of the Kiss Army, photos, tour programs, an edition of the Gotham City newspaper, etc. I could go on, but you get the idea. Kitchen sinks.
You also get four CDs and a Blue Ray disc. On the first CD is the actual album. Take my word, stunning. But surely, if you’re a Kiss fan, you have already got this. This clocks in at under 35 minutes, very short in this day and age.
CD Two is basically a collection of Paul Stanley and Gene Simmonds’ demos, all songs Bob Ezrin rejected in their basic form.
CD Three is outtakes, alternative versions, etc., with five more different versions of Beth!
So for a fan, CDs 2 & 3 are interesting to listen to once.
CD Four is a recording of the band live in Paris, 1976. Hardly definitive or essential. There are far better live recordings elsewhere.
Progressive Rock Guru Steve Wilson remastered the Blue Ray disc, and it is remarkably crisp.
If you fancy putting this in somebody’s Christmas stocking, it will set you back one hundred and ninety-three American dollars, plus eighty-four dollars shipping, then taxes. If the person doesn’t have a Blue Ray player (perhaps you could buy him one too?), that’s over 70 dollars a CD!
Merry Christmas from Mott the Dog.