“We had to fight to be accepted
It wasn’t right and I protested
For hangin’ out we got arrested
Every day life in the city“
– Hard Times
In honor of Kissmass in July 2017, I am taking a retro (active) look at four of the least loved KISS albums. To tie in with this, we have been asking readers on our Facebook page to give us their thoughts on each of the albums. Some of the reader quotes include:
“I love Dynasty. Dirty Livin’ is a great, possibly underrated track.”
“Dynasty is great, especially if you dig a bit deeper into the album, beyond I Was Made, Sure Knows and 2000 Man. Those song to me are closer to what they did on Rock and Roll Over than Love Gun. Well crafted album both the rockier numbers along with say the melodic Sure Knows Something. It´s KISS no matter what.“
“Garbage! The guitars sound like the volume was turned up to 2.“
The late 1970’s saw the dominance of disco on the American charts. It was the era of Chic and Donna Summer and Saturday Night Fever had gotten a grip on the music scene across the world. Riding along on the flared legs of disco came KISS, who decided that they could integrate some of this phenomenon into their music…
Dynasty was the result. Their seventh studio album, it was produced by Vini Poncia and was released on Casablanca Records on May 23, 1979. It marked the first time that the original four members of KISS did not all appear together for the entire album. 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.
As mentioned earlier, the album is not loved by all KISS fans, but it is a great album of its time. The bass is funky and up front, the beats a bit more dance-friendly and there was a groove and an energy that was characteristic of the end of the 1970’s.
The album and the following tour were billed as the “Return of Kiss“. KISS had not released a studio album since 1977’s Love Gun. Instead, the band released their second live album and each member had recorded eponymous solo albums, which were simultaneously released in 1978. The album also had the distinction of not featuring much of Peter Criss, who was largely replaced by Anton Figg, except for his “Dirty Livin’” song.
The opener of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” made some fans cringe, but I love the way in which the disco sounds mesh with the rock element of KISS. The spacey groove always makes me want to dance and the energy makes my heart run a bit faster. It is one of my favourite tracks of the band’s and should be considered a classic. Paul Stanley has never sung better either and his forays into soul are a testament to the versatility of the man.
From this dance track, the album goes to a cover of the Rolling Stones song “2000 Man“, which is sung by Ace Frehley. The song sparkles with a Seventies sensibility that makes it feel like a glam rock bang up. It is a pretty good hark back to more classic KISS and keeps the tempo up wonderfully.
My favourite track is the next with “Sure Know Something“, featuring the best bass playing I have heard on a KISS track. Gene Simmons gives us a virtuoso lesson in funk and rock. The song is moody and funky and ever so catchy. One of my favourite KISS tracks “forever“.
Other highlights include Gene Simmons bellowing out “Charisma” and the sleazy easy of “X-Ray Eyes“.
Dynasty would restore the band to commercial prominence, reaching #9 on the US Billboard album chart. It was certified platinum by the RIAA, and would be the last high-charting album by KISS for several years. “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. Not loved by many fans, Dynasty is one of my favourite KISS albums and encapsulated a moment in time when excess was all the rage! A perfect time for an excessive band!
“You know what I’m talking about…”