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Kiss - 'Love Gun (Deluxe Edition)' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/28/91/fd/Kiss-Love-Gun-Deluxe-Edition-24-1426453734.jpg Hot

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This version is the one you should go for.

It's 1977 and Kiss are at the peak of their powers, the career saving 'Alive' having set them on the road to superstardom, the extravagantly produced 'Destroyer' sealing the deal in bombastic style. Released the same year as 'Destroyer', 'Rock And Roll Over' stripped the band's sound back to basics, before 'Love Gun' struck the perfect middle-ground. KISS classics ensued; the unmistakable Peter Criss machine gun drum intro of the title track, the immediacy of Paul Stanley's vocal on 'I Stole Your Love' and guitarist Ace Frehley's electric 'Shock Me' all still instantly recognisable. However balancing the thrusting pose Kiss were famous for, bassist Gene Simmons leered through the manhood encasing 'Plaster Caster' and foresaw his future as a dirty old man for the piano led, but far from ballad-like, 'Christine Sixteen'. Add in the anthemic 'Tomorrow And Tonight' and sheer Rock 'n' Roll of 'Hooligan', where Criss provides a fine vocal, and there's no surprise that '...Gun' is the favourite album of many a Kiss fan... although the less said about the questionable version of 'Then She Kissed Me' the better. This updated version is re-mastered by Kevin Reeves, the sharp sound a revelation that as ever, will split opinion. Good though it is (and it is) I'll be more likely to stick with the familiar original.

However with the band now finally willing to delve into the vaults to release some of their countless unheard recordings, this two disc 'Deluxe Edition' offers up six previously unreleased demos (alongside the repetitive 'Reputation', which was initially released on the recent compilation 'KISS40'), a 1977 radio interview with Gene Simmons and three previously unreleased live recordings from the same year. Of the demos, three Simmons efforts (including the '...Sixteen'-like 'Reputation') lead the way. A plodding 'Much Too Soon' sounds like it belongs to the bassist's 1978 solo album and a rough version of '...Caster' a revealing insight into the song's progression. Then we get a "teaching demo" where Stanley talks and demonstrates his way through how '...Gun' should be played, before a cracking full version of the song itself reveals a few guitar licks that didn't make the final arrangement.

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The Simmons interview unveils the beginnings of the pompous self-aggrandising chap we all now know and (ahem) love (the part where he explains that those who spend their lives telling you how to live yours are all fools is laughably ironic), before an instrumental run through of '...Tonight' gets things back on track. Finally, the excellent 'I Know What You Are' would have fitted on the main album perfectly, Simmons in fine voice as a cool groove grows behind him. Add in the three live tracks, '...Gun', '...Sixteen' and 'Shock...', which capture the band in full (and less 'Alive II' polished) glory and as a long standing KISS fan, this disc alone makes buying this superbly packaged edition, with its interesting liner notes and artwork a must.

If you don't own 'Love Gun', then you should, it really is a perfect snapshot of Kiss at their best and with the added value, this version is the one you should go for.

Steven Reid

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