This 1984 concert is the only known soundboard recording with guitarist Mark St. John, whose tenure is one of the briefest chapters in Kisstory.
St. John played on Animalize then developed a sudden case of arthritis and had to depart the group. On these live tracks, his style blends bursts of ’80s shredding, whammy bar dives, and distorted chords he injects to familiar riffs such as “Cold Gin.”
It’s fun to hear forgotten early-’80s songs like “Fits Like a Glove” and an incomplete “Young and Wasted.” Kiss’ 1984 hit “Heaven’s On Fire” misses the studio refinement but maintains its hooky power. His two-and-a-half-minute “Guitar Solo” is showy, but erratic. His playing is grittier on the primal “War Machine,” a skittering solo delivers a bullet in “Love Gun,” and the band crushes “Black Diamond.” Gene Simmons’ bass is prominent in the mix – his “Bass Solo” thunders with memorable licks.
Occasionally messy (and diminished by Paul Stanley’s tour-blown voice), the Poughkeepsie recording is a valid historical document for soldiers of the Kiss Army. If you’re a more casual fan, stick with Animalize as the definitive Mark St. John statement.
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.