ON THIS DATE (33 YEARS AGO)
May 23, 1979 – KISS: Dynasty is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 3.5/5
# Allmusic 3/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Dynasty is the seventh studio album by Kiss, released on this date in May 1979. It was produced by Vini Poncia and released on Casablanca Records. Dynasty was to be the last high-charting album by Kiss for several years at #9 on the US Billboard charts. “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” was Kiss’ first songwriting collaboration with Desmond Child, who would show up later on Animalize, Asylum, Crazy Nights, Smashes, Thrashes & Hits and Hot in the Shade. Dynasty would restore the band to commercial prominence, reaching #9 on the US Billboard album chart and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
For many of the faithful, Dynasty marks a turning point in the Kiss story. Their first release after the members’ solo albums, it was their last outing with drummer Peter Criss (he was on the cover of Unmasked, but not the tracks within), and Ace Frehley’s departure wasn’t far off. Dynasty is an album of some bombast, with slick production, the inevitable nod to disco (“I Was Made For Loving You”), a Stones cover (“2000 Man”) and plenty of their trademark hard rock/pop hybrid.
Definitely a softer take on the Kiss sound, this was a harbinger of what the ’80s would hold for the band–a more radio-friendly style. With the catchy echoing chorus of “Charisma” and the wistful strut of “Magic Touch,” Kiss evolved past the Neanderthal stomp of yesteryear and into a new age of slick, sophisticated, and ultimately more lucrative pop mastery. In later interviews, the band admitted that they started to listen to outsiders about what direction the music should go around the time of Dynasty.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
The Kiss army is going to mutiny when they hear “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” the disco-inflected leadoff track on the Masked Marvels’ latest album. They’ll demand to know why their heroes, after years of rallying the troops into battle against disco and other threatening schlock, have turned tail and joined forces with uptown popsters like producer Vini Poncia (whose soft-rock credentials include LPs by Ringo Starr and Melissa Manchester) and singer/tunesmith Desmond Child (who cowrote the offending song with Kiss’ Paul Stanley).
But Dynasty is Kiss’ eleventh record — not including last year’s four solo discs — and apparently the time has come to increase the band’s credibility quotient outside the headbangers’ community. A cover photo by Francesco Scavullo is one obvious tip-off, and the tentative disco rhythms in both “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and “Dirty Livin'” are another. Kiss also offers the hip gesture of including the Rolling Stones’ “2,000 Man” as the album’s token cover version. But, unfortunately, this move backfires because, whereas the Stones were playfully psychedelic in the Their Satanic Majesties Request original, Kiss humorlessly trots out the same old buzz-saw guitars and goose-stepping drums over which Ace Frehley sings with absolutely no conviction.
Much of the blame for Dynasty’s sorry lack of spark can be laid at Poncia’s console. Poncia — who just as timidly produced drummer Peter Criss’ solo LP — has smothered most of the fire in the classic Kiss sound, reducing the guitars, drums and even Gene Simmons’ bloody howl to a pseudosophisticated whimper that makes the group’s ragged 1973 debut disc sound like apocalypse now. Only Stanley’s “Sure Know Something” is salvaged — and that by one of the new record’s few memorable hooks.
Kiss itself still has to answer for erratic playing and an increasingly dull songbook that may never transcend the brainlessly brilliant “Rock and Roll All Nite (and Party Everyday).” You can’t blame these guys for trying, but the respect they so earnestly crave is far more than just a kiss away.
~ By David Fricke (August 23, 1979)
1 I Was Made for Lovin’ You (P. Stanley, V. Poncia, Child) 4:30
2 2,000 Man (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) 4:54
3 Sure Know Something (Stanley, Poncia) 4:00
4 Dirty Livin’ (Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Poncia) 4:19
5 Charisma (Gene Simmons, Howard Marks) 4:25
6 Magic Touch (Stanley) 4:41
7 Hard Times (Frehley) 3:30
8 X-Ray Eyes (Simmons) 3:46
9 Save Your Love (Frehley) 4:41