Sunday 7/18/21 12am ET: Feature LP: KISS – Dynasty (1979)

Dynasty is the seventh studio album by the American rock band Kiss, produced by Vini Poncia and released by Casablanca Records on May 23, 1979. It was the first time that the four original members of Kiss did not all appear together for the entire album.

The album and the following tour were billed as the “Return of Kiss”. Kiss had not released a studio album since Love Gun in 1977. Instead, the band released their second live album, Alive II, and each member had recorded eponymous solo albums, which were simultaneously released on September 18, 1978.

Prior to recording the album, the Kiss members were working separately on various demos:

Peter Criss recorded and submitted a four track demo with the songs “Out of Control”, “Rumble”, “Dirty Livin'” and “There’s Nothing Better”. “Dirty Livin'” made it to Dynasty; “Rumble” remains unreleased officially by the band but has surfaced on the internet as a bootleg. The other two songs ended up on his solo album Out of Control.

Ace Frehley recorded and submitted a five track demo with “Hard Times”, “Save Your Love”, a cover of “2000 Man”, “Backstage Pass” and “Insufficient Data”. Three of the songs are on Dynasty, and the last two remain unreleased.

Gene Simmons wrote and recorded a large number of demos including some with the members of the band Virgin.

Paul Stanley wrote songs with Desmond Child, one called “The Fight” which was released on a Desmond Child & Rouge album and one called “Tonight”, which formed the verses of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and was combined with a chorus written by Stanley and Vini Poncia.
After pre-production and rehearsals were completed, Vini Poncia (who had produced Peter Criss), decided that Criss’ drumming was substandard, an opinion shared by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Criss was hindered by injuries to his hands that he had suffered in a 1978 car accident. Kiss hired the South African-born studio drummer Anton Fig, who played on Ace Frehley, to play on the Dynasty sessions. “On Dynasty, Peter was pretty much out of commission through drugs and alcohol, and he was not being nice to most people. I wouldn’t point to it as a classic Kiss album.” With the exception of his song “Dirty Livin’ ”, a rewrite of a song of the same title demoed during his pre-Kiss days in Lips, Criss does not play drums on the album, and he did not perform on another Kiss album until Psycho Circus in 1998, on which he again only played on one song. Fig was again hired to replace Criss during recording sessions for the following album, Unmasked. Eric Carr was hired as Criss’ permanent replacement before the Unmasked Tour began.

Frehley, who himself left the band three years later, sings three songs on Dynasty: “Hard Times”, “Save Your Love” and a cover version of the Rolling Stones’ song “2000 Man”. Frehley is the only Kiss member to appear on those three songs except for occasional backing vocals by Paul. Although Frehley had frequently sung backing vocals and had written the Kiss classics “Cold Gin” and “Parasite”, he had only previously been lead singer on his songs “Shock Me” on Love Gun, and “Rocket Ride” on the studio side of Alive II, as he lacked confidence in his ability as a lead singer.

Stanley’s “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” was one of the band’s most successful singles, peaking at #11 on the American singles chart. In eleven countries around the world it reached the #1 spot or 2nd position. It was the first Kiss single to have a disco remix, as a 7 min 54 sec version was released on 12″ single. He also sang on “Sure Know Something” and “Magic Touch”. In contrast, Simmons sings lead vocals on only two songs, “Charisma” (which became a minor hit in Mexico) and “X-Ray Eyes”.

The album includes a colorful jacket cover which is actually a collage of photos taken from the photo session and not a group shot as it appears. The label shows a portrait of all four members instead of the usual Casablanca label. Inserts included a merchandise order form and a full-color poster.

  1. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” 4:30
  2. “2,000 Man” 4:54
  3. “Sure Know Something” 4:00
  4. “Dirty Livin'” 4:27
  5. “Charisma” 4:25
  6. “Magic Touch” 4:41
  7. “Hard Times” 3:30
  8. “X-Ray Eyes” 3:46
  9. “Save Your Love” 4:41

Paul Stanley – vocals, rhythm guitar; lead guitar on “Sure Know Something” and “Magic Touch”, bass on “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”
Gene Simmons – vocals, bass; rhythm guitar on “X-Ray Eyes”
Ace Frehley – vocals, lead guitar; all guitars and bass on “2,000 Man”, “Hard Times” and “Save Your Love”
Peter Criss – vocals and drums on “Dirty Livin’ ”
Anton Fig – drums (except “Dirty Livin’ ”)
Vini Poncia – keyboards, percussion, backing vocals