By Adam Waldman
On May 23, 1979, Kiss released their seventh studio album – Dynasty. The album peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200 chart. It would be the last high-ranking album for several years.
Although Dynasty was panned by many for embracing the popularity of disco in 1979, the album still produced one of the band’s biggest hits, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (which peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart). It was the first song that featured a collaboration with songwriter/producer Desmond Child.
Dynasty marked the first time that the original four members did not appear together for the full album. In the early days of Kiss, the band released an album every year. However, they didn’t release one together in 1978 (aside from Alive II). Between Love Gun and Dynasty, each member released self-titled solo albums on the same day. Because the band was back together as a full unit, the tour for Dynasty was billed as the “Return Of Kiss.”
The album was produced by Vini Poncia (the producer of Peter Criss’ solo release). After pre-production and rehearsals were completed, Poncia voiced his concerns about Criss’ drumming ability. This concern was shared by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Criss’ playing ability had been hampered by injuries to his hands (the result of a 1978 car accident).
Although the original lineup appeared on the cover of the album (and the poster that came with the vinyl records), it was Anton Fig who did the majority of the drumming on Dynasty. Fig was also the drummer on the follow-up album, Unmasked. Eventually, Eric Carr replaced Criss on a permanent basis. Criss would not contribute drum parts again until 1998’s Pyscho Circus. Even then, he only played on one song.
Dynasty features more Ace Frehley on lead vocals than previous albums. His vocals are front and center on “Hard Times,” “Save Your Love” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “2000 Man.” Interestingly, Frehley was more comfortable as a backing vocalist. However, if you ask most Kiss fans, they will tell you that Frehley’s solo album was the best of the bunch (by far).
Stanley sang lead on three songs as well (“I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” “Sure Know Something” and “Magic Touch”). Simmons, who had always had lead vocal parts on previous albums, only sang lead on two tracks on Dynasty (“Charisma” and “X-Ray Eyes”). Criss only sang lead on one track, “Dirty Livin.”
The tour in support of Dynasty took place during the second half of 1979. It was the band’s most expensive tour to date. In recognition of the solo albums, each member of the band sported a new costume that corresponded with the color on their album covers. The showmanship was on full display on this tour. Simmons would be hoisted up to a small stage for his bass solo (which proved challenging at times due to malfunctions). Frehley also went airborne for a smoking guitar solo and rocket-shooting stunt. One stunt never came to fruition. Inspired by the movie Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, Stanley was supposed to shoot a laser from the left eye of a headset, but it was ultimately deemed unsafe.
Despite the fact that Kiss spared no expense for the “Return Of Kiss” tour, attendance started to dwindle. A hometown show at Madison Square Garden was cancelled, as was a show scheduled for the Pontiac Silverdome. The tour, which wrapped up in the Toledo Sports Arena in December of 1979, was considered to be a financial failure. It would be the final tour for the original lineup until the reunion that took place in 1996.
What makes the tour in support of Dynasty unique is the song selection. It was the only time in the band’s history that songs were played from the solo albums of 1978.
The poster that was included on the vinyl release was the same as the image on the cover of the album. Originally, it was supposed to feature the band in a group shot wearing straitjackets, but the record label nixed the idea because they didn’t think that it would be appropriate for younger fans. Like many from my generation, that poster was prominently displayed in my room for over a decade.
Dynasty may never be looked at as a classic Kiss album, but to this day, it remains a personal favorite for nostalgic reasons. “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” always brings back great memories, but since everyone already knows the song, I decided to share an underrated song that might actually be my favorite…