Listening to 'Alive!', it becomes clear why it became such a sales-juggernaut: the band sounds infinitely more powerful in the live setting than in the studio. Compare the live versions of "Hotter Than Hell", "C'mon and Love Me", "Parasite", "Black Diamond", or really any song here to their studio counterparts, and they all benefit greatly from their more muscular on-stage sound. The band's first top 20 hit, the live version of "Rock and Roll All Nite" became the band's signature tune, augmented with an excellent guitar solo from Ace Frehley not present on the studio version. The only flaws on the album are Peter Criss's extended drum solo during "100,000 Years" and Paul Stanley's at-times cheesy banter.
There's been a lot of speculation about the "live" merits of 'Alive!' over the years. There have been conflicting stories concerning studio over-dubbing (even between the band memebers) with some going as far to say that some entire instrument tracks were re-recorded! Whether or not this is true, if you've ever seen Kiss live, you can honestly say that this album is an accurate representation of what the band is like in concert.
Many will contest that Kiss is all about the image without any real musical substance. One listen to 'Alive!', however, will silence most any naysayer. If you're one such non-believer, give the album a chance. Either way, if you're a fan of '70s hard rock and heavy metal, 'Alive!' is an essential purchase. Live albums don't get any better than this.