Prime Cuts: Kiss
"C'MON AND LOVE ME" (Dressed to Kill, 1975)
STANLEY: We were in L.A. on the Hotter than Hell tour, and the president of Casablanca Records, Neil Bogart, came to us after the show and said that Hotter than Hell wasn't selling anymore. He wanted us to go back to New York the next day and start working on another album. It was a real interesting concept—especially since we hadn't written any new songs yet. [laughs] So we packed our bags and went home, and every morning Gene and I would write. When Peter [Criss] and Ace would show up, we'd say, "Okay, guys, here's today's song." It wasn't unusual for us to write a song in an hour and a half.
The verses to "C'mon and Love Me" were probably written in half an hour, and yet it's one of my favorite songs to this day—in fact, we may bring it out on the next tour. It sounds every bit as good today as it did back then.
SIMMONS: We were at the peak of our career when we recorded Alive!, and we knew it. Alive! was real, and was very much a product of its time—it wasn't just Kiss, it was the mid-Seventies. People had had enough of the hippie, political thing and just wanted to rock out and have a good time.
At that time live records didn't sell, and we knew we were doing something that the industry thought was stupid. But Alive! changed all that. Frampton Comes Alive was released shortly thereafter, and then everybody started putting out live records. But we weren't aware of it as a marketing thing, it was just real—a lot like our first record. To me, it's one of the two or three records we've done that still holds up.
With anything good, there's always more than ingredients—it's how long you cook it and how hungry you are when it's ready. As much as I'd like to take all the credit for Alive!, it was a lot more than just Kiss. All the planets lined up, the fans were right, radio didn't matter and there were great rock and roll magazines like Creem. It was just a very pure, innocent time. And the music reflected that, which is why that album works so well. A lot of the musicians who are happening now wanted and needed what we gave them then. It made kids want to pick up the guitar and put a band together.
"It was recorded mostly at Detroit's Cobo Hall, as well as in Wildwood, New Jersey and Davenport, Iowa. "Detroit Rock City" was written as a result of those shows, because we did three nights in an 11,000-seater. People thought we were out of our minds for playing there, because up until then we had been playing the 5,500-seat Michigan Palace. But in those days we thought excess was best.
STANLEY: We didn't think that any of the first three albums captured what we were about—being a live band. To this day, most of the studio versions pale in comparison to those on Alive! Our live show was akin to four people leading 12,000 in a church revival. Everybody there had tremendous commitment.
The cover of that album was shot at the Michigan Palace in Detroit. We did it in the afternoon while our crew was setting up the stage at the Cobo Hall, which is where we recorded most of the album. We wanted the perfect live shot, so we set everything up and played in an empty theater. We got our picture.