Review: KISS / Love Gun deluxe

Graeme Piper reviews the Love Gun two-CD deluxe reissue from Kiss.

US clown white make-up icons, Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees and larger than life rock titans, KISS, are big business these days. Hitting their 40th Anniversary this year, playing in excess of 2,000 live shows and selling over 100m albums worldwide, they are currently ripping Las Vegas a new one in a month long residency at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino with their trademark bombastic live show. Not too shabby by any stretch of the studded codpiece.

Continuing to celebrate in style, Universal Music have just issued a Deluxe Edition of their multi-platinum album Love Gun. Originally released in 1977 when, after three years solid touring and recording, KISS had made themselves into larger than life superheroes and become the biggest rock band in America.

This two-CD set includes the original album remastered, featuring fully-fledged KISS Klassics, I Stole Your Love, Christine Sixteen and Ace Frehley’s first lead vocal, Shock Me (inspired by Ace being electrocuted on stage, fact fans!). Any KISS devotee worth their salt will probably have multiple editions of this album already, but disc two of this new set delves deep into the dusty archives and pulls out a couple of surprises.

Consisting mainly of previously unreleased demos, perhaps the most unusual, bordering on the bizarre, is the Love Gun (Teaching Demo) where we listen to a lacklustre Paul Stanley taking us through various chord progressions and explaining how he put the song together. It could be quite interesting, but it sounds like he’s oblivious to the fact he’s being recorded and, as a result he comes across as largely apathetic.


However, though not drastically different to the album versions, Love Gun and Plaster Caster – complete with an urgent, ad-hoc ending – do sound great, as does the instrumental Tomorrow and Tonight, perversely sounding better without vocals! As for the remaining three Simmons sung demos (Much Too Soon and Reputation were previously released on this year’s two-CD set KISS 40) only I Know Who You Are would perhaps warrant a place on the track listing of the final album, in terms of style and substance.

Also included are an early Love Gun Tour radio interview with Gene Simmons and live versions of Love Gun, Christine Sixteen and Shock Me recorded in Landover, Maryland in December 1977 on the Alive II US tour. Though previously unreleased, these tracks are in truth little different to the Alive II live album versions, other than the lack of studio production and overdubs!

The pack also includes a decent 24-page booklet with never-before-seen photos, liner notes from Def Leppard’s Joe Elliot and track-by-track notes from each member of the band. There’s also a piece from Ken Kelly, the Love Gun cover artist about his inspiration and how the band really wanted to be seen.

With the KISS Army always clamouring for more unreleased music from the KISStory vaults, this latest release might leave them thinking that this is another missed opportunity to release some really obscure and unheard gems (the infamous demos cut with Alex and Eddie Van Halen perhaps?), but Love Gun Deluxe Edition isn’t just for the completists because it’s actually both interesting and entertaining in equal parts for any rock fan.

Love Gun Deluxe Edition is out now.

Review by Graeme Piper for SuperDeluxeEdition.


Track listing

Disc One (original album)
I Stole Your Love
Christine Sixteen
Got Love for Sale
Shock Me
Tomorrow and Tonight
Love Gun
Almost Human
Plaster Caster
Then She Kissed Me

Disc Two
Much Too Soon (Demo)
Plaster Caster (Demo)
Reputation (Demo)
Love Gun (Teaching Demo)
Love Gun (Demo)
Gene Simmons Interview (1977)
Tomorrow and Tonight (Demo)
I Know Who You Are (Demo)
Love Gun (Live in Largo, MD 1977)
Christine Sixteen (Live in Largo, MD 1977)
Shock Me (Live in Largo, MD 1977)

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Tom Staszewski

Being a KISS fan since 1976(I know I know, everyone says that, but it’s true), I am used to the band occasionally dropping the ball on things and doing things that infuriate me. One example was back in 1996 when they released a live compilation(You Wanted the Best) to celebrate the reunion tour….with 4 unreleased live tracks from the 70s…problem was Simmons and Stanley went in the studio and RERECORDED all of the vocal tracks on them! Obvious to anyone familiar with their voices in 1975 vs 1996. So here we go again with this Love Gun reissue, where on the live tracks, Peter Criss’ snare drum has been replaced with a modern sounding drum sample-horrible. The trigger is going off in places where Peter was not hitting the snare(anyone who has the Largo video of this show can check it out). The mix is also washed in echo and is just not very good. Mixing old live tracks to bring out good sonics is one thing, but messing with the original recording of the vocals or instruments is another. Sigh. Oh well. The packaging is awesome, the remaster of the studio album is excellent. Let’s hope that any deluxe versions of Alive! or Alive! II that have unreleased live tracks are NOT replaced with modern samples or vocals….what’s the point?

Luc Swaenen

A bit of critisism here..

– I’ve heard from a good source the 2nd disc was supposed to be a dvd. The total running time of the 2 discs seem to confirm that. (ie. less than 80 minutes)
– Since when did the plastic sleeves disappeared from the deluxe editions ?

Then again the positive.
Kevin Reeves did a magnificent job on transferring the masters into digital. The reviews on the new vinyl releases (and now highresolution downloads) have been nothing but positive. This can also be said for this release..


Any chance of a review for some of the Lisa Stansfield reissues? Real Love maybe?

Phil Lloyd

Does anyone know if they wrote/named the song/album because Gene Simmons was impressed by the name ‘Sex Pistols’? I heard this many years ago and wondered if it was true.


I think this is some kind of disappointing reissue. Who’s really interested in an interview being put in the middle of the tracklist? Bruce is absolute right! Why not expanding the first cd with some demos and giving live recordings to the second cd …?


Actually Bruce makes a good point. I enjoy the demo’s etc. – but this disc set isn’t exactly stacked, is it. Other deluxe editions really create something special – this is all a little lackluster. And given there’s no way you’re going to want to listen to the Gene interview more than once a millennium, it’s even shorter than you’d think…..


“Much Too Soon” was not on KISS 40, but Gene $immon$ would gladly rei$$ue it for $uch a rea$on.


I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about this release as the reviewer, as this reissue could and should have been a lot better given how much they are charging for it. The demos would easily fit on the first disc, which would allow the second disc to be devoted to the complete Largo concert. If they had room at the end of the first disc for the Gene interview then it would be a nice bonus, but no big loss if it couldn’t fit. In the US Universal is charging a premium price ($26.88 on amazon at the time of writing) but the value is not there compared to many other recent deluxe reissues.

Graeme Piper

This is selling on Amazon.co.uk for a little over £13 which is not too bad a price for a 2-CD set, but agreed, it could have had a bit more stuffed on to it.

Herb k

I’m surprised no one else mentioned this. I feel they should’ve used the original Casablanca record label with the dessert like background, and second the running time of the new remaster has a longer running time then the original remaster from 1999. I no longer own the 1st pressing on cd to compare.


Okay – here’s a gripe (don’t we all love to gripe?)

Message to record labels and compilers: If you’re going to have a mix of interviews and music on a single CD, can you put the interviews AT THE END of the disc please? How stupid is it on this release to have some songs, then a reasonably lengthy interview, and then more music? Stupid!

I also compared my SHM releases to this, and sonically I don’t hear any difference. Oh, and no Love Gun. :-(

But it’s Kiss! it’s Love Gun! Everyone should have one!