Riding the popularity wave of their successful 1992 studio album, Revenge, KISS recorded and released Alive III in 1993.
Alive III, much like its predecessors Alive! and Alive II, does an excellent job of capturing the raw energy of one of KISS' live shows. Unlike those ablums, though, Alive III does it without Ace Frehley or Peter Criss, the band's original guitarist and drummer, respectively, who were featured on the previous albums. Both of these founding members had been out of the lineup for over a decade, and Alive II was released in 1978, so many changes (musically and lineup wise) happened before Alive III was released. Bruce Kulick, who was the group's lead guitarist throughout most of the 80's and up until the return of Frehley for Psycho Circus, provides the strings on this album while Eric Singer, who replaced Eric Carr after his death in 1991, sits in on the drums.
The playlist on the album features quite a few KISS Klassics that longtime fans of the group will immediately recognize like Detroit Rock City, Rock And Roll All Nite, and Deuce, all of which can be heard on the other live albums. What makes Alive III worth giving a listen, though, is the addition of live recordings of popular songs by the band from albums like Dynasty, Animalize, and Hot In The Shade that weren't previously available as well as a heavy dose of tracks from Revenge.
It's very interesting to hear Kulick's take on tracks like Detroit Rock City, Lick It Up, and Heaven's On Fire. While the songs sound very much like the original studio recordings (all of which featured different guitarists), Kulick puts just enough "spin" on each track to let the listener know that Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent, and Mark St. John aren't playing the tunes this time around.
Singer adds a bit of flair to the drums on many of the tracks as well, giving some great tunes a fresh sound. I especially enjoyed his take on I Love It Loud on this album, as I consider it to be one of Eric Carr's best studio performances with KISS.
Gene Simmons provides steady bass as usual and gives solid performances on his lead vocals on tracks like Unholy (which, in my opinion, is the most "Demon" sounding track from KISS during their non-makeup years). He also sounds great on Domino.
Paul Stanley manages all of the chaos with his typical energetic style, and his vocals sound strongest on tracks like Forever and Lick It Up.
While the entire album sounds great, I must single out one song as THE song to purchase this album for. While it is a classic, it isn't a KISS Klassic. In fact, it's a KISS cover of a song that has been covered by numerous bands over the years. It's a song that was inspired by events that took place during the War of 1812 and was actually a poem before it became a song. It was penned by Francis Scott Key in 1814, and any good citizen of the United States of America recognizes it as our national anthem. So what is it? It's The Star-Spangled Banner. KISS performs the track as an instrumental and, yes, Jimi Hendrix fans will scoff at the following statement but I stand by it: This is the greatest performance of The Star-Spangled Banner I've ever heard! Bruce Kulick is a monster on this track as he strings out the song. We get to hear the fireworks explode and the crowd's reaction. There are no excessive flourishes added to the song at all. It's just KISS giving the people a straight-ahead rendition of our national anthem. THIS song makes KISS Alive III worth picking up. It's the kind of track you want to crank up when the Fourth of July rolls around, and it's KISS' best live recording ever.
Whew! I got a bit carried away with that last paragraph but I completely meant it. KISS Alive III may not feature the original lineup of the band, but it does come packed with some great tracks and a killer finisher. Highly recommended to any KISS fan and recommended to anyone who likes to rock out to the national anthem!
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