Ahh, the disco years! Alice Cooper did it, so did the Rolling Stones. Kiss were bound to follow. Paul Stanley admitted that he used to go to disco clubs. He found the music simple but interesting enough to try to write. The result was the now-classic I Was Made For Lovin' You, a song which was so hated for a time that it was out of the Kiss setlist for a decade before finding its way back in.
Dynasty was supposed to be the biggest Kiss album ever, and indeed it spawned their second biggest hit. Unfortunately the band were coming apart at the seams. In order to placate Peter Criss, his solo album producer Vini Poncia was chosen to produce the next album. Poncia proceded to deem Criss not up to the task, and he was replaced on 8 out of 9 songs by Anton Fig, of Ace Frehley's solo album. It would not be Fig's last album with Kiss. This was all kept secret at the time of course.
On the bright side, Frehley had a bunch of lead vocals: The Stones' 2000 Man, Save Your Love, and the story of his childhood, Hard Times. All three are great songs, and dare I say, better than Gene's on Dynasty. I find Gene's songs to be dull and uninspired: X-Ray Eyes and Charisma. Yes, only two songs by the Demon, and there's a reason you've never heard them played live.
Paul, on the other hand, had nothing but great songs: The previously mentioned I Was Made For Lovin' You, the powerful Magic Touch, and the excellent, underrated Sure Know Something. All three are examples of his increasingly skilled songwriting and singing.
That leaves Peter Criss with one song. It would be his last songwriting credit with Kiss, and his last appearance on drums for a long long time: Dirty Livin'. Not a great song by any stretch, and it is one of the most disco sounding tracks on the album. Still it has a street vibe that Criss was known for, and his fans will love it.
Despite the flaws, Dynasty holds together remarkably well. Even the filler fits in the groove for a seemlessly enjoyable listening experience. After all, all four Kiss members sing which was a rare thing that only happens on a handful of Kiss studio albums. (Love Gun, Psycho-Circus, and Sonic Boom.) Ace had more vocals than ever before, and would have lots on the next album too. The band was tighter than ever with Fig on ghost-drums, and they actually make the best of the overly compressed production sounds.
Dynasty might not be as great as the first 6 studio albums, but although cracks were beginning to show, it was still a continuation of the mighty Kiss legacy. What should have happened next was the band getting back to a solid rocker of an album and restoring the faith of the fans who were secretly and openly questioning the integrity of the band. That didn't happen, and Kiss as we knew it was destroyed forever, never to be the same again. The phoenix that rose from the ashes was a different, albeit still powerful, beast.
Don't pick it up first, but do pick it up. Four stars.