After the solo albums, Kiss jumped back in to the studio in January/February 1979 and began work on their seventh studio album (the solo albums aren’t really considered Kiss Studio albums) to be called ‘Dynasty’. It was set up to be the return of Kiss as it was the band’s first “band” album since 1977’s Love Gun. I say “band” because by this point, “band” is a very loose term.
The band was having serious problems with Peter Criss at this point. Peter had hurt his hand in a car accident, he was heavy in to drugs and alcohol and he was basically difficult to work with. To help try and ease things with Peter, the band hired Vini Poncia as the producer as he produced Peter’s solo album so they thought it would make things easier…it didn’t! In fact, Vini did not feel’s Peter’s playing on the recordings was sub par…basically, it sucked. So, they brought in a drummer to do all the drum parts. His name was Anton Fig and he played drums on Ace’s solo album. Anton played on every song, but one. The one song Peter played on was the one he sang, “Dirty Livin'”. It would also be the last Kiss song he played on any album until 1998’s Pyscho Circus (which is a whole other story to be discussed much later in the series).
Thanks to the huge success of Ace’s solo album, he developed some major confidence and Gene and Paul knew he was the current fan favorite, So Ace got himself, not one, not two, but three songs on the album. Hell, he even sang more songs than Gene on this one. Not too shabby for someone whose confidence was not really that good back a few short years ago. He’d come a long way.
A lot of people consider this a “Disco” album (man, I’m using quotes a lot) based on the opening track “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and first single, but the album is far from it. Yes, the album is a little more pop than what they had done before. However, it still rocked at times and that one song was really the only dance type song. I think the album gets a very unfair label as a result. Okay, the picture on the album sleeve with the multi-colored Kiss logo doesn’t really help the argument either.
Before we get to the album packaging, it is time to footnote a few things with Kiss at this time. The band went out and toured this album as the album itself was very successful, however, The Kiss image was changing in the public eye. With the Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park movie, with all the merchandising, Kiss was thought of now as a band for kids. Not a legitimate rock & roll band for the main concert going public. In fact, several of the shows on their tour had to be cancelled due to poor ticket sells. The Kiss “Dynasty” in the US was slipping. And one other thing to note, despite all the troubles with Peter during the recording of the album didn’t translate to the Tour. Peter played every show. I’m not saying it went smoothly, but Kiss as we knew was about to come to an end.
Let us talk about the album packaging for a minute. I have read that the album cover of the band is not really a single band shot. Each picture was taken individually and pieced together to make it appear as one band shot which, if true, is symbolic of the band’s turmoil behind the scenes. They would go on to keep that smoke & mirror routine going as long as they could as it would be years before people learned of the issues within the band and that most of the time, the band wasn’t really playing the instruments on the album.
Kiss had been putting special inserts in to their albums for a few years now and Dynasty kept that tradition going. For this album they included a wonderful Kiss Army merchandise form so you could mail off and order so many great Kiss items including the Kiss Pinball Machine. Man, I want one of those!!
They also included a band poster, however, this is the only thing missing from my copy of Dynasty. Yes, I am a little sad about that. I stole a picture off Discogs so you could see what it looked like.
Actually, it looks like the label on the vinyl as they used the same picture and not the usual Casablanca logo they had in the past. I think I’d rather see the band members anyway. Alright, I think we have rambled on for quite a while now so let us get to the main reason we are here…the music.
The opening track and first single was “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”. The song was written by Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia and the great Desmond Child makes his first of many appears with the band (only one on this album). The story goes that Disco was really big at the time and the record company wanted the band to be a little more commercial. Paul thought any idiot could write a disco song and a bet was made and a few hours later, the song was written and the Paul proved his point. The song went to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. And as I mentioned earlier, the result was people thought this was a disco album. Wrong!! This song did have every trapping of a disco song, the tempo, the beat, the pop sound, the disco sound effects…I mean it was disco…but it was good and it was catchy and they still play it, but I still don’t know if I can give it full marks. Now on a side note, this is Gene’s least favorite song (and Peter and Ace hate it too).
The second track was the first of three Ace songs. The first was “2,000 Man” a cover of The Rolling Stones song. The song brought back the Kiss rock sound and a classic Ace sound with his guitar riffs blasting away. Ace plays all guitars and even the bass. Basically he did everything but the drums as those were Mr. Fig and as a result, the song sounds like it came right off his solo album which in my opinion is great thing. Killer track and great cover!!
Paul is back with the next track, “Sure Know Something” which he and Vini wrote as well. It incorporates some disco elements and was the band’s next single. It barely missed the top 40 as it clocked it at #47 on the Billboard Charts. I don’t really think this is a disco song. It has a great dirty bass groove and feels more R&B than disco. Of course, there are a lot of pop elements, but the tone and feel to me are more of the sound Paul had on his solo album. The chorus rocks out and it isn’t really a dance song so not sure why the disco label on this one.
The final song on Side 1 is “Dirty Livin'” which is Peter’s only appearance on the album…literally. The song was written by Peter Criss, Stan Penridge and Vini Poncia. The song is another one that was leftover from his early days with Stan in his band Lips and a leftover from his solo album as well. The song is definitely on the pop side and the song is softened up with those backing vocals added on the chorus. It has a nice solo by Ace to help it and it does fit Peter’s style so it might be a throwaway song, but at the same time, I kinda like it.
Side Two kicks off with Gene Simmons song “Charisma” he wrote with Howard Marks. The song is a heavier and darker song which has to be done to fit the Demon image. It is still softer than what we are used to hearing and Vini adds layer upon layer of vocals on the chorus to soften up. The subject matter is more cocky Gene bravado and when you throw in a sweet little Ace solo you have a decent Gene track.
Then Paul is back with another song that sounds like it could’ve been on his solo album called “Magic Touch”. A very poppy song, but Paul sounds great throughout and the chorus is nice. Paul even does the lead guitar on this one as well and he does a fine job.
Now Ace is back with another song called “Hard Times” which was written by Ace and is showing that he is getting more confident in everything he does. The song is about the rise of fame and the troubles it can bring. The guitar sounds like Ace and the bass on it is great which is Ace as well. It is another example of how bad things were with the band as Ace again does all guitars and bass and Anton on drums. All three of songs on here he does without help from any other member…the writing is on the wall!! If you listen to the lyrics, it sounds like he doesn’t want to be there in the band anymore and he is ready to go solo as he is on the right track and I would agree he is.
“X-Ray Eyes” is up next and it is Gene again (hell, only his 2nd). I don’t know if it is as good as “Charisma” from earlier, but it sounds like Gene. It even sounds like it could’ve been left over from his solo album as well as that seems to be a trend with this album. Were these all leftover tracks from their solo albums…hmmm? Looking back, was Gene even in to this album. He got 2 songs and only played bass on 5 of the 9 albums. Not much work there if you ask me.
Then Ace comes in to end the album on his third song “Save Your Love”. This is another great rocker with more damn fine guitar work, a great catchy chorus, strong backing vocals with Paul (and others) and Anton pounding away on those drums. Ace’s songs might be the saving grace on this album as all three of his songs were strong.
- I Was Made For Lovin’ You – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- 2,000 Man – Keeper
- Sure Know Something – Keeper
- Dirty Livin’ – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Charisma – Keeper
- Magic Touch – Keeper
- Hard Times – Keeper
- X-Ray Eyes – Keeper
- Save Your Love – Keeper
The Track Score is pretty good at 8 out of 9 Songs or 89%. You don’t get much better than this as a track score. However, the album is not the Kiss we had grown used to hearing. The Disco sound and influences on some songs hurt the image. The songs were softer and more pop and a lot of the heavy rock sound was gone. Which is really crazy if you think about the time with AC/DC and Van Halen tearing things up for them to go soft is nuts. They were chasing the chart success and nothing else. Regardless of that, it is still a solid album. I will still give it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars because if you are in the mood for something softer, this is still a great one to throw on. The only thing is I am so tired of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and I could do without that one. Maybe I’m tired of it as I spent a lot of time with it thanks to the next post.
Next Up: Kiss – ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You ’ (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
The Kiss Review Series:
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Kiss (1974)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
- Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
- Kiss – Alive! (1975)
- Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
- Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
- Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
- Kiss – The Originals (1976)
- Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
- Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
- Kiss – Alive II (1977)
- Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
- Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
- Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
- Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
- Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
- Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978) Movie
- Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
Kiss – The Box Set:
- The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)
Gene Simmons – The Vault:
- Part 1 – The Grand Opening
- Part 2 – Disk 1
- Part 3 – Disk 2
- Part 4 – Disk 3
- Part 5 – Disk 4
- Part 6 – Disk 5
- Part 7 – Disk 6
- Part 8 – Disk 7
- Part 9 – Disk 8
- Part 10 – Disk 9
- Part 11 – Disk 10
- Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
- Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
- Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
- Part 15 – The Final Verdict