Welcome to the second article of the A Guide to KISS Bootlegs series. This article is going to be focusing on the tour KISS did in support of their sophomore album, Hotter Than Hell. It is tough to determine when the start of the Hotter Than Hell tour took place. Most publications state that the last show of the KISS tour was on October 4th, 1974, and the start of the Hotter Than Hell tour was on October 17th, followed by the album’s release on October 22nd. We’ll leave it to the diehard archivists to decide that! While there are plenty of shows in various degrees of quality from the tour for the first album, there are not too many recordings that circulate from the Hotter Than Hell tour. However, don’t let the low numbers fool you. The quality of the recordings that circulate from this tour are absolutely phenomenal and you will see why as you read this article. Enough of the chit chat, let’s dig right in! Or as Paul Stanley would say, “We’re gonna get this place…HOTTER THAN HELL!”
October 18, 1974
Setlist (Partial): Got to Choose/Firehouse/She/Nothin’ to Lose/Parasite/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll/Cold Gin
The recording that circulates from this show, which was leaked in 2010, is a solid soundboard recording. The only downside is that it starts midway through “Got to Choose” and doesn’t feature the opening portion of the show (more than likely “Deuce” and “Strutter”). This was released on vinyl under the title 9teenseventy4.
East Lansing, MI
October 21, 1974
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Firehouse/She/Nothin’ to Lose/Parasite/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll/Cold Gin
KISS managed to sell out two nights at this nightclub which was located near Michigan State University. The first of the two nights was captured via a soundboard recording which is just as good as the show from Hammond three days earlier. More points are given to this show being superior considering the setlist is complete. This was released on vinyl under the title Electric Magic.
San Francisco, CA
January 31, 1975
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/Got to Choose/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/Watchin’ You/Nothin’ to Lose/Parasite/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Cold Gin/Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll
This show is rather well known to KISS fans and collectors. While this show doesn’t exist as just an audio document, it was filmed by Winterland’s in-house video crew. Shot in black and white, it is a phenomenal look at the band at its early phase. It had been circulated by fans for many years until it was given an official release as part of the KISSOLOGY Vol. 1 DVD set in 2006. Between bootlegs and the official release, “Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll” ends during the last verse, perhaps due to damage from the master tape. Now here is the sad truth. Most shows that were held at the Winterland Ballroom were captured onto videotape by the in-house video crew. There was a fire that destroyed the video archive in the early 1980s. Aside from this show, KISS had appeared at Winterland multiple times, coincidently June 1st of both 1974 and 1975. If both shows were archived on video, they no longer exist due to the fire. The only reason this show exists is because KISS purchased the rights to the video. While the video quality is great, the audio quality is of the same caliber, more than likely taken from the soundboard and certainly warrants a bootleg release. A highly reputable label by the name of Verne Records released this on vinyl under the title Alive! in Winterland January 1975.
And that is it! While there are only three shows represented from this tour, it is certainly a rarity that all of what circulates are indeed soundboard recordings. They are all phenomenal listens (YouTube links to the shows are embedded in the article for your pleasure) and resemble some of the best earliest KISS bootlegs in existence.
Stay tuned for my next entry in the A Guide to KISS Bootlegs series, which by then, will be “Dressed To Kill.” Wait until you see the minutia that unfolds!!
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