Dynasty is the seventh studio album by American rock band Kiss, produced by Vini Poncia and 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.
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 on September 18, 1978.
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 by this time was hindered by injuries suffered to his hands in a 1978 car accident. Kiss hired 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," reflected Stanley, "so I wouldn't point to it as a classic Kiss album." With the exception of his song, "Dirty Livin'", Criss does not appear on the album, and he would not perform on another Kiss album until 1998's Psycho Circus, on which he would again only play 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 tour for the album began.
Frehley, who himself would depart the band 3 years later, sings three songs on Dynasty: "Hard Times", "Save Your Love" and a cover of the Rolling Stones song "2000 Man". Although he had frequently sung backing vocals and had written the Kiss classics "Cold Gin" and "Parasite", Frehley had only debuted as a lead singer on his song "Shock Me" on Love Gun as he lacked confidence in his ability as a lead singer.
Stanley's "I Was Made for Lovin' You" was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of disco music. It was one of their biggest singles ever, peaking at #11 on the American singles chart. He also sang on "Sure Know Something" and "Magic Touch". In contrast, Simmons sings lead vocals on only two songs: "Charisma" and "X-Ray Eyes". Giorgio Moroder was originally scheduled to produce Dynasty. . Escape from Hell was the subtitle of Dynasty's Japanese release.
The album includes a colorful jacket cover. The album cover 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.
The album was originally intended to include a poster of the band members in straitjackets. However, Casablanca did not feel that this was appropriate for Kiss' younger fans, and had the poster altered, so that the band appears to simply be wearing black shirts.
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. The Kiss remaster states it at double platinum.
The Dynasty Tour, also known as "The Return of Kiss", spanned the entire second half of 1979 and was Kiss' most ambitious and expensive. It was their first tour since the Alive II tour ended on April 2, 1978 in Japan. Kiss sported new costumes featuring colors which coincided with the colors of their respective solo albums: purple (Stanley), red (Simmons), blue (Frehley) and green (Criss).
The new production featured Simmons being hoisted to a small stage atop the scaffolding during his bass solo (typically played before "God of Thunder"). The harness malfunctioned on several occasions. Frehley was similarly elevated for his smoking guitar solo and the tour was the first to feature his "light-guitar" and his rocket-shooting stunt. A trick was designed for Stanley that involved him putting on a headset and shooting a laser out of his left eye (to mock the effect seen in Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park a year prior). After several run-throughs both Stanley and Bill Aucoin nixed the idea, citing the danger involved to both him and the fans.
The tour saw a decline in audience. Shows at Madison Square Garden and the Pontiac Silverdome were cancelled, while an additional night at the Los Angeles Forum was moved to the 10,000-capacity Anaheim Convention Center. The last concert with all the original members took place at the Toledo Sports Arena, in Toledo, Ohio, on December 16, 1979. The tour was considered a financial failure, and it would become the final tour featuring the original band until the 1996 Reunion Tour seventeen years later.
The tour is famous for being the only tour to feature songs from all four members solo albums. Simmons performed "Radioactive", Criss performed "Tossin' and Turnin'", Frehley performed "New York Groove" and Stanley performed "Move On". The two former songs were replaced early in the tour by more familiar songs. "Dirty Livin'" was reportedly rehearsed, but never performed.
Frehley stated in various interviews that Kiss was becoming a youth-oriented band with kids attending their concerts with parents in tow.Paul Stanley - vocals, rhythm guitar (lead guitar on "Sure Know Something"), bass guitar on "I Was Made for Lovin' You"
Ace Frehley - vocals, lead guitar (all guitars on "2,000 Man", bass guitar on "2,000 Man", "Hard Times" and "Save Your Love")
Gene Simmons - vocals, bass guitar
Peter Criss - drums, percussion and lead vocals only on "Dirty Livin'"
Anton Fig - drums, except "Dirty Livin'"
Vini Poncia - backing vocals, keyboards
Vini Poncia - producer
Jon Mathias - engineer
Jim Galante - engineer
Jay Messina - mixing
George Marino - mastering engineer