20 Years Ago: Kiss Go Acoustic (and Reunite) on ‘Unplugged’
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In the time leading up to the 1995 taping of Unplugged, Kiss had become far removed from the arenas they had played in the past, but would somewhat prophetically reclaim in subsequent years.
It had been two years since the release of Alive III, while the group’s prior studio outing, 1992’s Revenge, saw the band triumphantly emerge from the second creative slump of their career, but ultimately, the record did little to reignite the passion of their dedicated fans.
That would change, in more ways than one, with the March 12, 1996 release of Unplugged.
The previously televised concert served as a career retrospective for the legendary group, kicking off with 1974’s “Comin’ Home,” before revisiting other hard-driving classics like “Plaster Caster” and “Do You Love Me?” all of which were impeccably catered to suit the stripped-down nature of the performance.
Fortunately for the die-hard fans, Unplugged was so much more than just the group playing some of their biggest hits on acoustic guitars, because they brought out some of their deeper cuts, too. Dynasty‘s “Sure Know Something” packs an incredible punch here, as does Gene Simmons‘ 1981 ballad “A World Without Heroes,” and “I Still Love You” from 1982’s Creatures of the Night.
And while the band had the crowd eating out of their hands for the first half of the performance, the overall energy and enthusiasm were ratcheted up a notch when original Kiss members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss joined the band on stage.
Wasting no time, Kiss, reunited with Frehley and Criss for the first time since 1979, launched into their cover of the Rolling Stones‘ “2000 Man” sounding as though they hadn’t missed a beat.
After Criss takes center stage for a faithful rendition of his massive hit “Beth,” then-current Kiss members Bruce Kulick and drummer Eric Singer return to the stage to perform as part of an expanded Kiss line-up on “Nothin’ To Lose” and eternal crowd-pleaser “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
The rousing reaction afforded to the reunion of the original Kiss lineup on Unplugged subsequently led to the four taking the stage together at the 1996 Grammy Awards to present. Six weeks later, the band confirmed the reunited Kiss lineup would undertake the Alive/Worldwide Tour.
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