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Non-Prog CD Reviews


Symphony:Alive IV

Review by Patrick Hennen

This is the fourth installment of the Kiss Alive series. The first Alive, which was recorded in Detroit Michigan takes us back to 1975. This one was recorded in February of 2003 in Melbourne Austrailia. What a difference a couple of decades make. This also marks the debut of Tommy Thayer on guitar. Tommy used to play for a band called Black and Blue, whose last album was produced by Gene Simmons.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
This track has the dubious honor of being on 3 of the 4 Alive discs. It was the opener of the first one in 1975, it was included in Alive III and now opens this one. It's not a bad choice.
Another alumni from Alive I, this one showcases Paul Stanley's ability to take his own song and sing it in a whole new way. You'll have to hear it to completely understand what I mean. Paul's vocals are awesome.
Let Me Go Rock and Roll
Again, this is one from Alive I. However this time the focus is on the guitar work of Tommy Thayer. Tommy doesn't do a bad job at matching Ace Frehley's original lead from the first Alive disc. He actually plays it note for note. The ending is different from the original version but Tommy puts a unique flair to this classic track.
Lick It Up
This only had one other Alive appearance and that was on Alive III. It's a good crowd appeal song. There are some slight musical changes from the studio version of this. Listen for The Who influence in the bridge. It's another classic.
Calling Dr. Love
Paul makes reference to "Rock and Roll Pneumonia" just like he did before this track on Alive II. Gene's vocals are incredible on this one.
Psycho CIrcus
This is a track which makes its first Alive appearance. This was one of my personal favorites on the album of the same name. This live version is terrific. "Welcome to the show".
This is the first track where we now add The Melbourne Symphony Ensemble. There is no taped recording here like there usually is when you see them live. Peter puts forth the same effort on this track that he did on Alive II.
This was a bit of a surprise to me to see this played with The Ensemble. The softer track from the Hot In The Shade disc still packs a good punch when you include this group behind them. It's a great song live.
Goin' Blind
Prior to this, the only way to hear this song live was on the Unplugged disc. This classic from the Hotter Than Hell album is nothing short of phenomenal when you include the orchestration behind it. This is one of the major highlights to this collection.
Sure Know Something
Let me just say, I never thought I would see the day that a metal band would play one of their disco tunes with an orchestra. With that being said, you might want to check this track out.
This track was done specifically because they were playing in Melbourne. Australia holds the honor of being the only continent that Kiss played in for the Unmasked tour. This just happened to be the single from that disc. It's a great tune especially with the Ensemble backing them.
Disc 2
Detroit Rock City
This is the first track with the entire Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. I can sum this number up with one word: WOW! Anyone familiar with this song knows how this song builds. Now add the orchestra and you'll be searching behind your couch to find your breath. So that's where that remote went.
King of the Night Time World
I know this disc is starting to open up like Alive II all over again. However the addition of the orchestra is nothing short of awesome. I truly never thought that this cut would sound right with orchestration added to it. I was wrong.
Do You Love Me
A true crowd favorite, you gotta love the way that Paul has the crowd alternate singing the lyrics in the opening of this track. I love the horn section playing during the chorus.
Shout It Out Loud
A true classic gets a facelift. The orchestra brings out the true intensity of this anthem. Gene does kind of fumble with his lyrics in the second verse. "Let them tell you that there's too much noise, old to really understand." Simmons does get too wrapped up in the moment occasionally.
God of Thunder
This song has been aching to be done with orchestration for some time. I was so glad to see it on here that I just about jumped out of my skin. (That's not a pretty sight I can tell you) This true gothic classic is worth the entire price of the disc!
Love Gun
This was another track that I, quite frankly, did not expect to see done with orchestration. This was pulled off very well.
Black Diamond
This is I will admit openly right up front, this is my all time favorite Kiss track. To have this done with orchestration is truly a dream come true. Peter sings it with the same intensity that he did in 1973 plus some.
Great Expectations
This track is one that has never been played live before… until now! When this cut was recorded in 1976 they included a kids choir on this song. They brought out an entire kids choir with the orchestra. This is truly awesome.
I Was Made For Loving You
The disco classic from the 1979 disc Dynasty gets an interesting lift with the orchestration. I'm glad to see this song get redone. It gives it a new look for the millennium.
Rock and Roll All Nite
We all knew that this one would be on here somewhere. The orchestration is interesting. No matter how many times you hear this song you can't help but sing along with it. It's a great tune to close this mighty disc with.
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