REVIEW: KISS – Dynasty (1979, 1997 Japanese import)

Part 15 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!

DYNASTY FRONT

KISS – Dynasty (1979, 1997 Japanese import)

Ahh, the disco years! Alice Cooper did it, so did the Rolling Stones. Kiss were bound to follow. Paul Stanley admitted that he used to go to disco clubs. He found the music simple but interesting enough to try to write. The result was the now-classic “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, a song which was a bit despised for a while.   Even though it was one of Kiss’ all time biggest hits, it dropped out of setlists in the glam-metal mid-80’s.

Dynasty was designed to be the biggest Kiss album yes, and indeed it did spawn their second biggest hit. Unfortunately, on the inside, the band were coming apart at the seams. In order to placate Peter Criss, his solo album’s producer Vini Poncia was chosen to helm the next album. Poncia then kicked Criss out of the proceedings, as his chops were judged to be not up to snuff anymore.  He appears on only one song, “Dirty Livin'”, a song he co-wrote.

Anton Fig, of Ace Frehley’s solo album (and David Letterman, and later Frehley’s Comet) was chosen to replace him in the studio. It would not be Fig’s last album with Kiss. This was all kept secret at the time.

On the bright side, Frehley had a bunch of lead vocals: the Stones’ “2000 Man”, “Save Your Love”, and the story of his childhood, “Hard Times”. All three are great songs, and probably better than Gene’s two on Dynasty. I find Gene’s songs to be dull and plodding: “X-Ray Eyes” and “Charisma”.

Paul, on the other hand, had nothing but great songs: the previously mentioned “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, the majestic “Magic Touch”, and the excellent, underrated single “Sure Know Something”. All three are examples of his increasingly skilled songwriting and singing.

“Dirty Livin'” would be Criss’ last songwriting credit on a Kiss album, and his last appearance on one for a long long time. It is not a great song by any stretch, and it is one of the most disco sounding tracks on the album. Still, it has a street vibe that Criss was known for, and his fans love it.

Despite the flaws, Dynasty holds together remarkably well. Even the filler fits in the groove for a seemlessly enjoyable listening experience. After all, all four Kiss members sing lead on it, which was a rare thing that only happened on only a handful of Kiss studio albums.*Ace had more vocals than ever before, and then had lots more on the next album too. The band was tighter than ever with Fig on ghost-drums, and they actually make the best of the overly compressed production sounds.

Dynasty might not be as great as the first six legendary albums, but although cracks were beginning to show, it was still a continuation of the mighty Kiss legacy. What should have happened next was the band getting back to a solid rocker of an album and restoring the faith of the fans who were secretly and openly questioning the integrity of the band. That didn’t happen, and the original Kiss as we knew it was destroyed forever, never to be the same again. The phoenix that rose from the ashes was a different, albeit still powerful, beast.

A word about the Japanese version pictured here:  When Kiss began remastering their albums in the late 90’s, the Japanese got to hear them first, packaged in mini replica record sleeves.  Unfortunately, it does not include a replica of the LP Dynasty poster.  It was the first Kiss remaster I bought simply because I found it here on import before the others came out.

Don’t pick it up Dynasty as your first, but do pick it up.

4/5 stars.

*(Love Gun, Psycho-Circus, and Sonic Boom.)

17 comments

  1. What a ton of drama this RNR HOF has become!
    It’s amazing that dudes in there 60s are just a bunch of drama Kings!
    BUT
    It makes for a good read man!

    Enjoyed this Dynasty review as well…first time I had seen em live in Duluth Minnesota Oct 6 1979!!!
    Two days away from my 12th birthday!

    Like

  2. Yeah no shit……but I guess well Gene/Paul are control freaks and once Ace/Peter split that was that and they say they wanna give em credit but I don’t really think that’s the honest truth….
    Do the unplugged thing like when Kulick and Singer played a few tunes with Ace/Criss….
    No biggie but Ego can be brutal….
    Read Eddie Trunks thoughts on his site….

    Like

    1. On my way to the Trunk…

      Yeah good example with the Unplugged show. What’s the difference? Both times, Kiss has members who had been in the band for years but they still invited the original guys up to play 4 songs. It was a big deal — and that is what I think the truth comes down to. Gene and Paul don’t want a reunion with the original guys to be a big deal. They don’t want to have fans screaming for more, a tour, a few shows, whatever. Gene and Paul don’t want to deal with that. They make great money as they are and you know Gene has done the math on all their options.

      I think the truth is, Gene and Paul are scared of the original band overshadowing their current band, creating demand for a reunion. They’re so scared that they’ve killed the original band forever. It’s over — these are insults that won’t be healed in the lifetimes of the members.

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      1. Yeah, well, they’re done anyway. Paul couldn’t hold a tune to save his life and without his voice – no more Kiss. I can’t see why they just can’t let it go already. Sure, it makes them money, but they have more than they’ll eve need. By touring as a bunch of old timers that can’t do what they are there for anymore, they’re dragging the name through the mud. Let Kiss rest now. I know I won’t ever attend a Kiss concert again in my life.

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  3. Totally agree with u 100% …they feel they have built up this band with two studio albums tours etc it’s a step back???so much for giving people what they want…..they should remember back on the Asylum tour when they only played to half a house in Duluth whereas on the Animalize tour they had almost a full house!!….

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      1. Hahaha….ummm

        Duluth Rock City
        Creatures Of Duluth
        Uh All Duluth
        All Duluths Breaking Loose
        Duluth Diamond
        Hotter Than Duluth
        Hard Luck Duluth
        Shock Duluth
        And my fav…..

        Bang,Bang Duluth

        Hahaha

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  4. Not one of Kiss’ proudest moments, this album. Frehley’s tunes (his own the Stones cover) are all killers and so is Magic Touch. I’d give Charisma an ok, but the rest is really weak. Plus the sound is lame and lacks energy. Kiss were always a hard rock band that followed no rules, but with this album they started to jump on to what was hip at the moment, something they would continue to do throughout the rest of their career, with the exception of Revenge, Psyco Circus and their two latest efforts.

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    1. I love Dynasty but let’s face it — as Kiss fans we often have favourites that many others hate! Or vice-versa. I gave Unmasked a shit review and I have had some definite feedback from Unmasked lovers.

      Like

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