In 1977, KISS was at the peak of the band's commercial powers. It was the year Gene Simmons and company had come in at #1 of the annual Gallup Poll's list of the most popular rock groups in America. From the moment KISS broke through with their 1975 live album, the band had been on a nonstop whirlwind tour of live shows, album releases, television appearances, and any other possible opportunity for manager Bill Aucoin to keep his guys in the public eye.
After the release of blockbuster album Love Gun in June 1977, Aucoin and company were itching to get some new product in front of the fans by the time the school year rolled around in the fall. Given the degree of burnout from the past two year's of work, KISS was granted something of a reprieve in the form of a second live album.
Compiled from performances (and soundcheck) at the Los Angeles Forum in August 1977, KISS Alive II hit record store shelves across the country on October 14, 1977. Comprised of live versions of tunes from the band's three studio albums since KISS Alive!, the fourth side of the double-album was reserved for a collection of new songs.
The album's arrival was like Christmas in October for KISS fans. Opening the gatefold sleeve, the record was packed with extras, including a full-color booklet, merch order form and a sheet of KISS temporary tattoos.
Those fans responded by snapping up copies of Alive II in mass quantities, sending the record shooting up the charts until it peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 for the week of January 7, 1978. The #1 album in America that week: Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.
"Well, it was mostly Eddie Kramer, you know. All we did was perform live," guitarist Ace Frehley shrugged in a recent interview.. "As you probably know, a lot of 'Alive I' and 'II,' things were overdubbed in the studio, it wasn't a pure live record. We cheated a little, but it's still a great record, and it still captured the essence of the group live. As much as it's been said about things being overdubbed and things like that, it's a little unfair to KISS in light of how many bands currently - pop stars, rock bands, that's how every live record is. There's some amount of polishing, you want to sound good."