Kamala's KISS Korner

Kamala The Simp

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Forty years ago tonight in a divey club called Popcorn's in Queens in front of an audience of three people, a young band of New York Dolls wannabes called KISS made its debut. Few outside of the band could have predicted that they would become the biggest live act of the '70s and go on to sale 100 million records worldwide In honor of that anniversary, I thought I'd create a thread in honor of one of my all time favorites.

As evidenced by their debut gig, KISS' road to success wasn't without its stumbling blocks. After ditching the blouses and mascara for leather studs and greasepaint and forming a dynamic stage act, they were the first act signed to Casablanca Records in the Fall of '73. Casablanca spared no expenses in promoting the group, getting the band appearances on The Mike Douglas Show and Dick Clark's In Concert and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Casablanca themed record release party. Rock luminaries such as Alice Cooper and Rod Stewart attended the show as did executives from Casablanca's distributor, Warner Brothers Records. The executives were not thrilled by KISS' loud and bombastic stage show and demanded that KISS remove their make up or else they would end their distribution deal with Casablanca. KISS and their manager, ex-game show producer Bill Aucoin refused. Casablanca's distribution deal was dropped but undeterred, Casablanca founder Neil Bogart was certain KISS' self titled debut would become the biggest hit of 1974...


The record would go on to initially sell 75,000 copies and be a massive financial failure. However, KISS' live act was quickly gaining a reputation. They blew the well more established bands they were opening for off the stage and got thrown off countless tours in the process. KISS also had the ingenious strategy of playing many small cities in the Midwest and South that were passed over by other touring acts, gaining a rabid cult following of fans that in short time would dub themselves "The KISS Army".

Although the record was hated by critics and ignored by the general public, no less than five of its nine songs (a cover of Bobby Rydell's "Kissin' Time" would later be added to the record as a tenth track in an unsuccessful attempt to launch a hit single to bring the track number up to ten) would become staples of the KISS live set to this day.

KISS - "ABC In Concert" Dick Clark - UNCUT 1974 (Nothin' To Lose, Firehouse & Black Diamond)
Kiss - Deuce + Lyrics
Kiss Cold Gin + Lyrics

Next: KISS goes out West and gets heavy for their second album, Hotter Than Hell

Kamala The Simp

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Less than six months after their debut was released, KISS traveled to Los Angeles to record their follow up album, Hotter Than Hell. KISS quickly developed a distaste for their new surroundings and it's probably not a coincidence, that the result was perhaps KISS' darkest album. The muddy sounding production doesn't help lighten the mood. As a result of Warner Brothers' dropping their distribution with Casablanca (and significantly less promotion), this record managed to fare even worse than the debut.

In spite of the sludgy production (or maybe because of it), the record managed to become a cult favorite of the KISS Army and a few songs remain favorites of hardcore fans such as myself. This album also showcased the increasing songwriting presence of lead guitarist Ace Frehley, who wrote three songs although he was still too shy to take on lead vocals.

KISS - Got To Choose
KISS - Parasite
KISS- Going Blind
KISS-Hotter Than Hell
KISS - Strange Ways

Next: Casablanca head Neil Bogart decides to take matters into his own hands and decides to produce KISS' next album himself. KISS gets Dressed to Kill for their third release

Kamala The Simp

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Better than anything KISS has recorded in the past twenty years!

After the failure of their first two albums, KISS was in such dire financial straits that they couldn't afford to hire an outside producer for their third album, Dressed to Kill. Casablanca head Neil Bogart head to step behind the panel to produce. Bogart actually had a minor hit in the '60s under the name of Neil Scott but had little experience in musical production. Bogart's bubblegum flavored tastes gave the album a poppy sheen that the first two albums lacked and the album managed to sneak into the Billboard Top 40 and score a regional hit with "C'Mon and Love Me".


The songs themselves were a slight step back from the first two albums IMO but that hardly seemed to matter. Word of mouth about KISS' now legendary live act was spreading like wildfire. They had transitioned from opening act to headliners and were making the move from clubs and theaters to arenas.
KISS - C'Mon' and Love Me "Video"
Kiss - She + Lyrics
Kiss - Dressed To Kill (1975) - Rock And Roll All Nite

Next: KISS had seen marked improvement with every album but had still fallen well below the lofty expectations of their record label and the band was losing money hand over fist. They take a gamble and decide to try and attempt to capture their live act on record! I look back at when KISS came Alive!

Kamala The Simp

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KISS is three albums in and has garnered a lot of media attention and some success regionally in the Midwest but are losing thousands of dollars every day. They're more or less living on their manager's American Express card and to add insult to injury, Casablanca spent millions of dollars producing and promoting a double album of Johnny Carson's monologues from The Tonight Show, which sold about exactly as well as you'd think an album like that would sell. KISS wasn't exactly eager to jump back in the studio after churning out three albums in a little over two years so they decided to take a gamble and hire legendary engineer Eddie Kramer to go on the road with them to record their act. Casablanca and KISS thought it was a low-risk, moderate rewards gamble. A live album didn't cost much so at least they wouldn't lose money like they did with their first three albums.

KISS Alive! surpassed all expectations, becoming a surprise smash. It became the band's first Top 10 hit on the Billboard album charts and the lalbum's version of middling Dressed to Kill album track "Rock and Roll All Night" climbed to #12 on the singles chart. Over the years, the album served as a landmark for live albums. Even the avowed KISS haters at Rolling Stone Magazine placed the album in their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In the upper half of the list even!

kiss Alive (Full Album 1/2)
kiss Alive (Full Album 2/2)

Up Next: KISS sees if the success of their live album will translate into studio magic as they team up with celebrated producer/cokehead Bob Ezrin for their biggest risk yet, their fourth studio album Destroyer

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster

After the success of Alive!, KISS was hoping to finally capture the energy of their live act in the studio. Though considering the overdubs on Alive!, some would say they already had! Har har har! Dorky jokes aside, KISS went to great lengths to produce the biggest album of their career. Bob Ezrin, who had produced Alice Cooper and Lou Reed's Berlin, handled production and outside songwriters were solicited for the first time (with glam rock imperssario Kim Fowley being most notable). No expense was spared with production flourishes with sound effects, children's choirs, and orchestras used on the album.

Ezrin quickly became frustrated with the band's rudimentary musicianship and would often stop the sessions to teach the band basic lessons in music theory,, greatly aggravating the band (especially Frehley who was replaced on several tracks by Cooper guitarist Dick Wagner). When Destroyer was released in March of 1976, it was not apparent if the hard work had paid off. Die hard fans used to the band's usual brand of meat and potatoes rock n roll scoffed at the band's new evolved sound. While the spiritual sequel to "Rock and Roll All Night", "Shout It Out Loud" sputtered into the Top 40, the next two singles belly flopped on the charts. By August, the album had almost fallen off the charts when Canadian superstation CKLW began playing the B-side to the third single "Detroit Rock City", "Beth". "Beth" was a piano ballad written and sung by drummer Peter Criss that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley lobbied to keep off the album because it was such a departure from the band's typical sound.

"Beth" shockingly became the band's biggest hit to date, climbing to #7 on the Billboard singles chart and reigniting sales of the album. In November, Destroyer became KISS' first album to be certified platinum. There would be more to come but in many ways, this was the beginning of the end. With success, the egos swilled and so did production values until they were out of control. Still, if I had to pick one album to represent what KISS was all about, it would be this one.

Kiss - Detroit Rock City ( 2012 Remix ) - Destroyer Resurrected Album 2012
KISS shout it out loud

Next: KISS teams up again with Eddie Kramer to try and recapture the success of the previous two albums with their fifth studio album, Rock and Roll Over


Odd how Detroit Rock City didn't fare so well before "Beth" became a hit. "Detroit Rock City" and "God of Thunder" are two of my favorite songs by them.

Kamala The Simp

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KISS chart history is sort of odd. They've had nine Top 40 hits but only four of them ("Rock and Roll All Night", "Shout It Out Loud", "Beth", and "Calling Dr. Love") get any sort of play on classic rock/oldies stations.

Speaking of Top 40 hits, this next record spawned two of them...


For Rock and Roll Over, KISS brought back Alive! producer Eddie Kramer and recorded in The Star Theater, a run down moviehouse in the Hudson Valley of New York. To achieve the proper drum sound, Peter Criss recorded his parts in an upstairs bathroom and communicated with the band via a primitive video teleconference. According to his recent autobiography, this was p. much just an excuse for the Catman to snort some monster rails. This was back to the basic, dumb party rock of the first three albums (with improved production albums). And it doesn't get any dumber and more awesome than the album's biggest hit and one of Gene's signature songs, "Calling Dr. Love", which climbed all the way up to #16. Also cracking the Top 20 was "Hard Luck Woman", a song Paul Stanley originally wrote to give to Rod Stewart.

I'm in the minority but I think this one of the lesser albums from the original lineup. It was kind of clear that recording five albums in less than three years was having its effect on the band and the album tracks are kind of rote even by KISS standards. Album still is 1000x better than pretty much anything they'd record from '80 on and kicks ass so minor quibbles here.

Kiss - I Want You ! ( official video )
1976 KIϟϟ - Hard Luck Woman
Kiss-Calling Dr. Love

Next: KISS teams up for a second album in a row with Eddie Kramer for the last album to feature the original lineup on every track, Love Gun

Fall of Epic

Epic Reine
Hard Luck Woman is actually one of my favorite KISS tracks. Going Blind is another great one. I love the Melvins cover of it too!

I don't have any problems with this band at all. Ask any rock act in the 80's and 90's and they'll tell you that KISS influenced them in some way.


That's actually the re-recorded version of Calling Dr. Love. The original had palm-muting in the intro, though I don't think they ever played it that way live.

Kamala The Simp

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Love Gun is last truly great KISS album. Not coincidentally, it's the last one where all four original members play on all of the tracks and the first where all four members take turns on lead vocals. My favorite KISS album changes constantly but this is a fixture in the Top 3. If I had to recommend any KISS album for anybody who wanted to check them out, it'd probably be this one.

KISS was the heights of its powers commercially during this period. During the recording of Love Gun, a Gallup poll was released that indicated KISS was the Most Popular Band in The U.S. ahead of Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Eagles. They were not just a band anymore but now a well oiled merchandising machine that released t-shirts, lunchboxes, and an increasingly absurd amount of assorted memorabilia. But they hadn't reached the point yet where their albums had merely become another piece of merchandise (that'll happen with the next two posts).

The title track is KISS at its most KISSy, absurdly cheesy lyrics with a driving hard rock rhythm, it's been justifiably played on most of the tours they've done since the albums release. Might be Paul Stanley's finest moment. He also contributes the incredibly awesome/rapey album opener "I Stole Your Love" and the unsuccessful but fun attempt to ripoff "Rock and Roll All Night", "Tomorrow and Tonight". Gene tries to one up Paul on the creep factor with the ode to penis molds, "Plaster Caster" and one of the aforementioned KISS Top 40 Hits You Never Hear on The Radio today, "Christine Sixteen". Fun fact: A young Eddie and Alex Van Halen played on the demo of that one.

In the long term, perhaps the most significant contribution to the album was "Shock Me", which was Ace's first lead vocal on an album. Though he'd written songs for the band since the beginning, he had been too shy to sing them. He recorded the vocals to this song lying down. The song would end up Ace's "signature song" and remains in KISS' setlist to this day (even though they replaced Ace ten years ago...this still rankles me a bit). Despite being the weakest vocalist of the four original members, Ace's songs would often be the saving grace of their albums at the end of the '70s/beginning of the '80s. Plus, out of nowhere, he'd easily have the best of their four solo albums but we'll get to that my post after next in this thread.

Love Gun unsurprisingly was a massive success. Going platinum less than two weeks after its release and becoming KISS' highest charting album to that point, going all the way to #4 on the Billboard charts.

KISS-"Shock Me"
KISS- "Christine Sixteen"
KISS- "Love Gun"

KISS here was hitting the point of saturation. After this is the period where KISS releasing an album every eight months wasn't a product of them being a hard working band but the product of them having to release more merchandise for overeager fans in order for Gene, Paul & Casblanca to fill their Swiss bank accounts and Ace & Peter to afford to snort monster rails and crashing Mercedes while driving 125 mph on the Bronx River Parkway. Gene & Paul were already raging narcissists and after Peter's success with "Beth" and "Hard Luck Woman", his ego was swollen as well. Now Ace was contributing more to the albums and you had a shit storm of arrogance brewing but that---is also for the post after next.

Next: Speaking of oversaturation, we take a quick look back at Alive II, the sequel to KISS breakout album and their first compilation, Double Platinum.
Damn, did you have all these recaps written in advance or did you churn them out one-by-one yesterday? Either way, good retrospective, I'm enjoying it.

Kamala The Simp

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YPOVingus said:
Damn, did you have all these recaps written in advance or did you churn them out one-by-one yesterday? Either way, good retrospective, I'm enjoying it.
Churned them out one by one on a whim because yesterday was dreary outside and hey, I'm now unemployed. It was fairly easy since I'm such a huge fan of the early albums and have been reading this stuff since I was 12. Speaking of which, I should include a review of Peter Criss' autobiography since it's awesome. The best sleazy, probably 80% made up autobiography ever.

Alive II/Double Platinum and the solo albums today. Dynasty and Unmasked tomorrow. The Elder this weekend (which I'm sure Gary is looking forward too).


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Good shit, Kamala! Personally, I'm a fan of everything up until, and including, Love Gun in 1977 (Dressed to Kill is easily one of my favourite albums (period) of all time). It feels like they jumped the shark when they did those solo albums in 1978 and that pseudo disco album Dynasty in 1979. The rest I could leave, save a few random tracks from the 80s.

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
The solo albums were definitely the Jump The Shark point. I like a lot of stuff on Dynasty (and even the pretty much universally reviled Unmasked) but they were never nearly as good as they were from '75 to '77. They've made two or three good albums since the end of the '70s but it's different. It's Gene and Paul and a revolving cast of hired guns. Any album where it isn't the original four has never really felt like a KISS album. I kind of wish Gene & Paul just called the band something else after they kicked out Ace and took off the makeup. KISS was meant to be four larger than life individuals, not two large than life individuals and two studio hands!

Agent of Oblivion

Faded as fuck
I like KISS enough to include them in two of my karaoke theme sets: "Statutory rape" and "Songs with lyrics I can't forget even when blind drunk"

Kamala The Simp

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After six albums in less than four years, KISS manager Bill Aucoin thought the band deserved some much needed time off. What better way to give the boys some time off and sate the fans appetite for new KISS material than record a sequel to their breakout album, Alive!. KISS once again brought Eddie Kramer out to record the band's sold out concert in April of 1977 at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan but Casablanca and KISS found the material unusable. Most of the material on the album came from the soundchecks for a sold out three night stand at the Los Angeles Forum in August of '77. Of course, like with the first Alive! (and basically every live album), their were extensive overdubs in the studio. Alive II certainly has its moments and some even argue it's better than original but I feel like, most sequels, it falls a bit short. On the first, they were a young, hungry band ready to prove themselves. On the second, they were millionaires trying to crank out a product to get to the fans in time for the Christmas season.

In addition to the fifteen live tracks, KISS recorded four new songs for the album. Unfortunately, division in the band was becoming increasingly apparent with Ace Frehley only appearing on one of the new songs. Luckily, for Ace, his one contribution, "Rocket Ride", was really the only standout track of the four new songs and managed to sneak into the Billboard Top 40 briefly. Definitely one of the best tracks from The Spaceman.

Kiss - Rocket Ride


KISS' first compilation album, Double Platinum released in April of '78 is oddly one of the very first remix albums ever released. It's odd mostly because rock bands don't usually do remix albums but maybe not so weird considering KISS was signed to Casablanca, the premier disco label. On one or two tracks, the sheen of the remixes work to the original track's advantage ("Black Diamond" in particular) but mostly, I think the glossiness is unnecessary and a slight preview of the watered down production of their next two studio albums. And in another omen of things to come, the first and only single released from the album was a rerecording of a track from their debut album, "Strutter" with a disco beat. Still, this might be KISS' compilation (Gold 1974-1984 is really the only other contender) even if the production is weird as hell and it omits a few key tracks.
Kiss Duoble Platinum - Black Diamond
kISS - Strutter '78

Next: KISS makes their boldest and most daring move yet by splitting off and recording four solo albums, released simultaneously. The Demon shows his sensitive side, The Spaceman rocks out, The Catman gives the world the classic R&B album the world had been waiting for from him (World: We had?), and The Starchild, well, he was the principal songwriter for the band so his album wasn't much of a surprise. Get's KISS: The Solo Albums

Kamala The Simp

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Now we come to what, at least at this point, was the most maligned moment in KISStory...the solo albums. In 1978, KISS was the height of their commercial powers. Manager Bill Aucoin and Casablanca devised an ambitious plan that would maximize the band's earning potential while easing creative tensions in the band...they would release four solo albums, one from each member, simultaneously on the same day. Needless to say, the executives and management were doing a ton of blow at the time.

Casablanca spared no expense in recording the albums. They spent $60,000 building a home studio in Ace's house. Paul Stanley started recording his album at one studio, decided he didn't like the vibe, and spent tens of thousands of dollars upending the entire production and moving it to another studio because he could. Gene Simmons brought in a cavalcade of pop luminaries, ranging from Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen to Helen Reddy to guest on his album and even made an unsuccessful attempt to get The Beatles to appear on the album. None of the members' appeared on the other three's albums.

Peter Criss' album is by far the greatest departure from the group's sound. He wanted to showcase his love for classic R&B but unfortunately, he couldn't sing like his soul heroes and the production made it sound like a particularly awful Leo Sayer album.

Kiss - Peter Criss (1978) - You Matter To Me

Meanwhile, Paul's album veered closest to the KISS discography. He even hired the ringer brought in to replace Ace on the studio tracks of Alive II, Bob Kulick to play lead guitar. It's also probably the biggest letdown of the solo albums. Peter's is way worse but you expected more from the principal songwriter for KISS but I guess since most of his songs made the band's albums anyway, he didn't exactly have a backlog of great songs just waiting to be released for the world. It does include a few decent to good rockers and one flat out great song "Wouldn't You Like To Know Me?", which really shows off Paul's Raspberries influence.
Wouldn't You Like To Know Me Paul Stanley

Gene's album, if you couldn't tell by the list of the guest stars, is really, really fucking weird. I actually enjoy the album for the sheer audacity of it all and I think it's the second best of the solo albums (almost by default) but objectively speaking, it's more of an interesting misfire than a great (or even) good album. The album opens with an awesome, balls out rocker "Radioactive" that features Joe Perry on lead guitar and Bob Seger on backing vocals. If it were included on a KISS album, I believe it'd be considered one of their all time best. Then it gets really fucking weird. There's the typical dumb sleaze rock you'd expect from a Gene Simmons solo album but also a weird, baroque pop tribute to Lon Chaney ("Man of 1000 Faces") , a shockingly good Help! era Beatles homage ("See You Tonite"), and it all ends with an unironic cover of "When You Wish Upon A Star" where Geno legit broke down in tears during the recording of it. If you ever want evidence that Gene Simmons actually has a soul (albeit a very, very bizarre fucked up one), then this is the album for you!

KISS Gene Simmons - Radioactive - KISS GENE SIMMONS ALBUM 1978

Surprisingly, the KISS solo album that many had the lowest expectations for was the one that was by far the best of the four. Unlike Paul, Ace did have a bunch of songs that he'd been waiting to unleash. Ace Frehley is just some great, straight up '70s arena rock. Ace didn't need a bunch of big named guest stars, he just got Eddie Kramer back behind the boards and a group of killer session players. It's no surprise that it ended up being the biggest seller of the four but it was a bit surprising that the album's cover of British glam rock also ran Hello's UK hit "New York Groove" became a Top 15 hit and the only song from any of the four solo albums to have any traction on the chartsa.
Ace Frehley - Rip It Out
Ace Frehley/Kiss - New York Groove (Studio Version)

Casablanca spent $2.5 million dollars marketing the album and shipped five million copies of the albums, guaranteeing that each would go platinum. All four albums would debut in the Top 50 of the Billboard charts but ultimately, many of the copies that Casablanca printed up would be returned to the record stores. At the end of the day, all four albums combined to sell the same amount that Love Gun did. To add insult to injury, one month later came KISS'acting debut, KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park, another attempt to lessen the band's workload and expand their popularity, It was described as Star Wars meets A Hard Day's Night. The production was a disaster with Ace & Peter becoming frustrated with the slow work pace of moviemaking and taking out their anger by downing countless cases of beer in their trailers. Peter was so soused throughout the production that all of his lines had to be overdubbed by a voice actor.

KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park

The good news was that when the movie debuted on NBC, it was one of the highest rated television movies of 1978. The bad news was...well, it was KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park. A movie even Gene Simmons can't pretend was any good. All of their management's attempts to branch KISS out were disasters of historic portion and the tens of millions that KISS had earned all of a sudden in the mid '70s were disappearing just as fast at the end of the decade. So at the beginning of 1979, it was time for the band to go back in the studio to record their first album in almost two years...

Next: It's the Return of KISS as the band dons new outfits and embraces a new sound. I take a look back at KISS' last album of the '70s, Dynasty.

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster
Rivers Cuomo still has Ace Frehley living his garage IIRC.

Kidding aside, I saw Ace Frehley a year or so back at a shitty little nightclub called The Junkyard in Nashua, NH and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.

Kamala The Simp

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It's a fun movie. Objectively speaking, it's not a good movie at all but I always laugh in spite of myself a few times when I watch it. I'd put in the same category as Ready to Rumble. That category being "incredibly dumb, mediocre comedies about things I like". Incidentally, I saw both within a two week span in the Summer of '00

We'll talk more about Detroit Rock City when I do my post about Psycho Circus in a week or so.

Honestly, KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park is fun to watch if you're drunk and/or high. So are most of the movies Gene made in the '80s during his failed attempt to become a Hollywood character actor.

Fall of Epic

Epic Reine
My old AOL instant messenger screen name for 10 years was PsychoCirkus00. Yes, it was a glaring reference to KISS but it was mostly a nod to the Dreamcast video game KISS: Psycho Circus (you better cover that in your review, Kamala!). Yes, I was such a big KISS mark when I was a teenager that I begged my mother to buy me that shitty video game. I was embarrassed for years to tell people where the name came from but I guess it's better than the people thinking it was a reference to ICP!

Oh, and my old screenwriting professor in college played a mime in Phantom of the Park, IIRC.

Kamala The Simp

Integral Poster

At the beginning of 1979, KISS was facing a tremendous backlash. A few years earlier, they were loved by hard rock fans but were now considered persona non gratis for watering down their sound. Once menacing figures who inspired boycotts throughout the South for alleged Satanic imagery, KISS was now a family friendly act shilling lunchboxes, face paint kits, and even dollies for the kiddies.

kiss dolls commercial

With each passing tour, the audiences for KISS became younger and younger. It had come to the point, that parents were taking their young children to the band's concerts with the whole family sporting the KISS warpaint. The band's brand new costumes which made them look less like badass rockers and more like the Marvel superheroes they had become certainly wasn't helping KISS' street cred...


Internally, things weren't going much better for KISS. Peter Criss had been seriously injured in a car crash the previous year and was more or less, sitting on the sidelines in a coke fueled haze during this period. The Catman had demanded that his solo album producer Vini Poncia produce KISS' return album or he quit only to have one of Poncia's first decisions as producer be refusing to let Criss drum on the album. In his place for the next two albums was Ace Frehley (and future World's Most Dangerous Band) drummer Anton Fig.

In addition to that, there was even dissension among best friends Gene & Paul. They were no longer songwriting partners with Paul now preferring to write with professional hitmakers like Desmond Child. It was that type of calculation that led to one of the most controversial songs in the band's history, "I Was Made For Lovin' You" While KISS had recorded some disco influenced material, this song was a full on embrace of sound. Paul Stanley wanted to prove to the world how easy it was to write a hit disco record. This wasn't their attempt to recreate the Rolling Stones' "Miss You", this was their attempt to recreate The Bee Gees' "Tragedy"
KISS - I Was Made For Lovin' You [ Official Aucoin video, Remastered HQ audio ]

Unsurprisingly, the record was a smash success. Becoming KISS' second biggest hit to that point behind "Beth", climbing all the way to #11 on the Billboard charts and going all the way to #1 in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and The Netherlands. But as a new audience had embraced KISS, the old audience recoiled. Dynasty had confirmed their worst fears. KISS had not just sold but they'd gone disco. Songs like "Charisma" and "Dirty Livin'" sounded more like something you'd hear at Studio 54 than in the parking lot of Cobo Hall. While the album debuted in The Top 10 and quickly went platinum, it was the last hurrah. They weren't courting loyal, hard rock audiences but the fickle, ever changing Top 40 audience. The Dynasty tour was the first KISS tour in years not to be greeted with sold out audiences at every arena. Some dates were even canceled due to low advance ticket sales. The band's performance itself was suffering with the new material from Dynasty and the solo albums going over like a lead balloon with the audience and Ace Frehley & Peter Criss (who was still toured with the group even though he no longer played on the albums) often went on stage in no condition to perform. The Hottest Band on Earth had become a bloated, shambling mess.
Kiss - Beth (Peter Messes Up Lyrics Super Funny!) - Dynasty Tour Largo, MD (UNCUT VERSION)

There were a few saving graces for the album/era. Dynasty contained some of Paul Stanley's most mature songwriting with the minor hit power ballad "Sure Know Something" being a particular standout. And with the success of his solo album, Ace Frehley got more chances to contribute to the album. His three tracks on the album helped allay some of KISS' core fanbase anger.
Kiss - Sure Know Something (HQ 1080p HD Upscale)
KISS - Hard Times ("Remastered" and Reworked)

In a little over five years, KISS had gone from critically hated/audience ignored glam rock act to cool cult rockers to biggest band on Earth to a kids show. As the '70s closed, the future was uncertain for the band. Critics who had predicted that the band would be a mere flash in the pan certainly didn't look they'd be wrong. The band hoped they would turn a new page with the new decade. Few could have predicted the strange twists and turns that would greet KISS in the 1980s. But I guess the one thing you can expect when it comes to KISStory is not to expect anything.

Next: It's KISS' first album of the '80s! The band brings back Vini Poncia for round two and Ace gets another chance to shine while The Catman bids adieu. KISS goes Unmasked! ( Not really though, you'll have to wait a few more albums for them to actually take off their makeup!