I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.
As the regular readers of my blog have noticed, I never print two articles from the same edition of a paper. But I have made an exception this time. Why? Because this article must be one of the first reviews of a Kiss concert in one of the large music papers of the time. Even if it doesn`t say so in the article, this review must be from December 31, 1973. In “Kisstory” there are only two documented shows at the Academy of music, this one and the one they performed January 26, 1974.
Why is this important? Because everywhere you look it says that this is the show where Gene Simmons sets his hair on fire, but the review tells another story. Very strange. You figure it out, Kiss-fans!
Night of fear!
Chris Charlesworth is your guide for an evening`s entertainment in New York
We start at the Academy of Music on 14th street and Third Avenue, just around the beginning of the Village where four groups are scheduled to appear, all American and all what I would term “new-phase” bands.
The Academy of Music is not unlike our own Rainbow, but shabbier. It had been described to me earlier as a 3,000 seater urinal which was a little cruel but it doesn`t figure in my personal favourite venue list after last night. On the bill are Blue Oyster Cult, Iggy and the Stooges, Teenage Lust and Kiss in reverse order of appearance.
The audience are of the more bizarre category, some dressed as flashily as the bands and others resembling down and outs seeking a warm retreat for a few hours away from the cold outside.
Within two minutes of arriving a sallow looking youth has inquired whether I have any acid to sell.
At the front door there`s a search: could be for a gun.
Above the stage is the word Kiss in large illuminated letters and on it roadies are scurrying around setting up amplifiers.
Next to the bass player`s equipment are seven lit candles as if the forthcoming music had something to do with the Jewish celebration of Hanukah, or Christmas as it`s better known.
But what arrives on stage five minutes later is anything but four nice Jewish lads from the Bronx.
Kiss dress in costumes from the classic American comicbooks; bat uniforms to be precise. The bass player wears bats` wings and all four are caked in make-up: to say they were disciples of the devil would not be an understatement.
The music is both loud and heavy; pretty simple, riff based rock and roll with a very steady funky beat to it. Variation of mood is not their forte, although what they play is effective enough. There are no hitches apart from a mike that fails midway through the set.
The climax to their act is brash and spectacular and not a little borrowed from Arthur Brown. The closing number, “Firehouse,” I think, ends with clouds of dry ice puffing from amps, flashing lights all round them and a display of fire-eating by the bass player.
He even chucks a few loose flames out in the general direction of the audience and one fiery mass appears to land on an unfortunate youth`s head. He`s carried out holding his face in his hands but few seem to notice.
There`s a 20 minute delay before Teenage Lust appears, and once again we are treated to a brash, flashy group. Here the emphasis is not so much on the theatrics or dress but on the Lustettes, three very young looking girls who chant along behind the lead singer.
Dressed in black undies at the outset and changing to black hot pants suit for the remainder of the show, the Lustettes win for themselves a place in my heart. Not a particularly wholesome place, though.
In the tradition of the black singing groups from the Motown school, the Lustettes (who don`t look much older than 16) sing and dance with intricate precision, dwarfing their group for sheer interest.
Their main sing is “Teenage Lust” which opens and closes the set; the rest is a pot pourri of rock and roll.
Next on is Iggy and the Stooges. There are no changes since I last saw them in Los Angeles. At the Academy Iggy is contorting his features and screaming his head off behind a very basic and very noisy group.
To be fair, I should point out that Iggy gets a hero`s welcome, but his particular writhing, his unintelligible vocals and his band`s total lack of any subtlety leave me cold as ice.
But time presses and we must leave the Academy – unfortunately missing Blue Oyster Cult – for the Felt Forum, a smaller hall within the Madison Square Garden complex. Mountain, reformed and ready to blast away, are appearing. We can`t miss that.
The Mountain audience look older and more sophisticated than the 3,000 who showed up at the Academy. And the Felt Forum is a better place to go anyway.
Mountain provide the best music of the evening, demonstrating very forcibly that there`s no substitute for age and experience when it comes to rock and roll.
Maybe in two or three years the Kisses and Teenage Lusts of this world will attain the kind of maturity that Mountain have – and the musicianship that comes from instrumentalists like West and Felix Pappalardi.
It`s not strictly the same Mountain as it used to be. There are no keyboards any more, and David Perry, a black guitarist friend from Nantucket, has been added to bring the total up to four. Corky Laing remains on drums.
Mountain plays a stormer for a couple of hours; very long numbers interspersed with somewhat emotional introductions by Pappalardi who seems very happy to be back on stage with his old chum Leslie.
The highlight is a 45-minute version of “Nantucket Sleighride” which winds its way through a phenomenal bass and drum workout as well as some intricate guitar patterns by West.
For an encore they give us “Mississippi Queen” and that`s it.
Half an hour and two dollars later Stevie Wonder`s in Les Twinkie Zone, a newly opened discotheque on East 48th street.
There`s nothing really remarkable about the party except that reliable informants claim that several of the guests are actually transvestites. That many persons in women`s dresses are actually the male species isn`t hard to see.
Stevie`s fine albums are played over and over again for scores of happy dancers, and after a drink it`s time for home.
This number of Melody Maker also contains articles/interviews with these people: Leo Sayer, Robert Partridge about Jobriath, David O`List, Jacksons, Ronnie Scott, Golden Earring, Shep Gordon, Jefferson Airplane, The Soul Report (An assessment of the big names in soul.), Deke Leonard, Bob Dylan, Roar of the crowd (A survey into audience reaction in Britain), Underground Music (About buskers in London), Robin Dransfield.
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