The tracklist here delves deep into the band's '70s album tracks and overlooked singles. Opener "Comin' Home" is a rare Stanley/Frehley collaboration from Hotter Than Hell; "Sure Know Something" is a forgotten gem from Dynasty; "See You Tonite" is a gorgeous ballad from Gene Simmons's 1978 solo album; even "A World Without Heroes" is resuscitated from the abortive 1981 concept album Music from 'The Elder'! Although the songs may be unfamiliar to those uninitiated with Kiss's back catalogue, these acoustic takes actually sound better than their original incarnations in many instances; by stripping down the arrangements to essentially skeletal forms, the excellence of the songs is more easily discerned.
Even at their most raw, Kiss can still sound as powerful as when plugged in. The sleazy Revenge rocker "Domino" is transformed into a blues song, as is "Rock Bottom". "I Still Love You", a live staple throughout the non-makeup era, is an absolutely devastating power ballad; it is given its ultimate reading here, largely due to Paul Stanley's incredible vocal performance. The band's first single, "Nothin' to Lose", and of course, Kiss's anthem, "Rock and Roll All Nite", bow things out on an electrifying note as all six band members perform together and share vocal duties.
The only real issue with Unplugged is that this is not the complete session; there were six more songs performed that night. Fortunately, footage of the whole show can be viewed on the Kissology Vol. 3 DVD set. Unplugged may seem like a footnote in the lengthy Kiss discography at first glance, but it ranks among their most pivotal releases in significance and quality. If it were not for this album, Kiss may have never put the makeup back on and may not have continued to the present day. But perhaps more importantly, it proves once and for all that even if the volume, stage tricks, and crowd-pleasing tunes are taken away from their arsenal, Kiss are still one of the best live rock bands of all time.