Friday, January 20, 2012

KISS - Dynasty

Happy sixtieth birthday today (January 20th) to Paul Stanley.

Since they recorded on Casablanca Records, a label known in the late 1970’s as one of the homes of many disco acts, it is no surprising that the hard-rocking band KISS would end up putting out a record with dance overtures. Of course, this being KISS the result was going to be big, loud and theatric. The end result was 1979’s Dynasty, the seventh studio album for the group, released on May 23rd.

Despite the change in musical styles, Dynasty sold well. The Platinum selling record went to number 9 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 6 in Canada, number 8 in Germany and number 2 in Australia.

Side one opens with the first single. “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” reached number 11 on the US Billboard Top 40, number 2 in France, Germany and Switzerland, and number 1 in Canada, Norway and Holland. Stanley penned the song in part just to prove how easy it was to write a dance song, and he definitely achieved it while keeping enough rock elements in it as well. Lyrically, it tells of a hot steamy night of romance. The guitars have a driving rhythm to them that goes right to your core. The falsetto vocals by Stanley and the backing vocal harmonies also add to the whole disco elements.

“2000 Man” is up next. Ace Frehley takes the lead vocals on this cover of a classic Rolling Stones song; it is fitting for the “space man” to sing lead this rocking number with sci-fi overtones.

“Sure Know Something” was the second single from the album; it went to number 44 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 48 in Canada, number 5 in Australia and number 3 in the Netherlands. By playing down the ferocity of their guitars and playing up the drums, KISS finds the right sound to appeal to the dance crowds on this mid-tempo number.

“Dirty Livin’” is the only track on the album where Peter Criss played the drums; the rest of the tracks were done by guest drummer Anton Fig. Criss sings the lead on this one track too. I like how the dance sound continues on this one too with the pounding bass.

Side two starts with “Charisma”, a song written by and featuring Gene Simmons on lead. It opens with a solid guitar riff. Simmons plays off his outgoing personality on his delivery of this song that drips with vanity. I find it all rather fitting.

“Magic Touch” slides the scale a bit back to the rock side but maintains a wicked beat.

Next, Frehley is back to sing lead on a song he also penned. “Hard Times”, which talks about those years of struggling to make it, too sticks more to the rock side of things.

“X-Ray Eyes” is another Simmons composition. I like the combination of guitars and piano on this one; it gives the song a bit of a different sound from the others.

The album closes with another Frehley penned track on which he sings lead. “Save Your Love” is a good song but the one part that doesn’t fit for me is the backing vocals by Stanley and Simmons (they seem like they could have been a bit better to me for some reasons).

I have to thank one of my Twitter friends (Derrick) for recommending that I review this album.

I had a few of the songs from this one already in my music library but I was not familiar with the whole thing. In 1979 when it first came out, I was into the whole disco scene so I knew the lead track from radio airplay. My older brother was a fan of the earlier KISS albums but I don’t believe he had this one in his vinyl collection (disco was certainly never his thing). Had I heard this entire record back then, I definitely would have had it in my collection. I love the grooves that KISS lays down on this album.


70s80sSpawn said...

My first exposure to KISS was the 45 for I was Made for Lovin' You my brother gave me around 1980. Always liked that song.
I wasn't too crazy about this album the first time I heard it but a relisten several years later changed my mind. Now it's up there as one of my favorites along with the (I feel) under appreciated "Unmasked".
So if you need an idea for another review Martin, there you go! :)

Martin Maenza said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I will keep it in mind for the future. And thank you for reading. It is always appreciated.