After sinking deep into this musical celebration, even the not-so-avid listener will surely know something more about Kiss, a classic rock icon of the '70s roaring back in vibrant and passionate form. This recording of a session done expressly for the program MTV Unplugged in 1996 brought together a special group for a remarkable, if unexpected, reunion. Throughout this record, you can feel the support and raw adoration of the audience present, certainly a mixture of long-time fans and new admirers. The members of Kiss got together to rock hard on their axes and crash big on the drums, bringing a renewed sense of freshness and excitement. Nearly rock & roll legends, they exceeded expectations and, given their newfound energy, charisma, and love for the music, their performance provided the catalyst for the beginning of a successful world reunion tour. "Coming Home" delivers a feverish and electric opening that gets the crowd on its feet in a hurry. Soon the emotion and presence of this group are brought back with startling grace and wisdom on "Plaster Caster," and the beautiful acoustic medley "Goin' Blind." The decades of Kiss, their costumes, and their wild stadium shows roll back in a heartbeat through the crashing tune "Do You Love Me." Perhaps one of the most bewildering tunes that really reflects the image of Kiss is the rocking blues tune "Domino." The crowd is really fired up now, next experiencing the charming and soulful power rock ballad "Sure Know Something." "A World Without Heroes" is very subdued and reflective. "Rock Bottom" is delicate and mysterious in the opening seconds, with a lush minor harmony delivered picking style on the acoustic. "Now it gets rough," expresses Stanley, grooving in a racy blues statement. "See You Tonight" is a romantic and pretty ballad delivered with sweetness, and the group sings, "I'll see you tonight/And if I can't, I'll cry, I'll cry/I see you tonight, outside." Then on comes the darker resonance of the band with "I Still Love You," expressing grave longing after a grueling breakup. "I got to make you see," is a gripping line in a haunting bridge section, before the shouted, emotional, sometimes painful chorus: "Girl, it seems the price I have of losing you/Will be my hell to pay/It makes me want to die/'Cause I still love you." The solo during the bridge is reminiscent of the chord structure of the Guess Who's "Undun." After this painful, depressing song, new breath is found with "Every Time I Look at You," a song of forgiveness, delivered with sincerity and the feeling of hope: "Every time I hold you/The things I never told you seem to come easily/'Cause you're everything to me." The bridge is brilliant and seems to elevate the melody to a gratifying level, before breaking into a chilling guitar improv, layered over with a shimmering string orchestra. "Beth" is the most heartwarming song of Kiss' power ballads: "Beth I know you're lonely/And I hope you'll be alright/'Cause me and the boys will be playing all night." Finally, a Kiss show wouldn't be complete without the ultimate party song, "Rock and Roll All Night," a tune still electric without electric guitars.
© Shawn Haney /TiVo