The End Of A Dynasty (Golden Eggs EGG 125)
Capital Center, Largo, MD, USA – July 8, 1979
(77:59) King Of The Night Time World, Radioactive, Move On, Calling Dr. Love, Firehouse, New York Groove, I Was Made For Loving You, Love Gun, 2000 Man, Guitar Solo Ace Frehley, Tossin’ And Turnin’, Bass Solo Gene Simmons, God Of Thunder, Drum Solo Peter Criss, Shout It Out Loud, Black Diamond, Detroit Rock City, Beth, Rock And Roll All Nite
A little more than a year after the last show of the Alive II tour in 1978, KISS were back on the road supporting a new Album, Dynasty. By this time the KISS Machine could not stop, the solo albums and merchandising kept in the spotlight as did high profile relationships and even divorce. While Gene and Paul seemed to relish the spotlight, Peter Criss was becoming more erratic and a liability and the last date of the tour would be his last with the band for some 16 years.
While Dynasty would go on to become a platinum selling album, many of their core fan base were losing interest in the band and the record and tour did not live up to the bands expectations. Those are the facts, but when one explores the audio and video recordings from this tour you find there is much to enjoy from the 1979 Dynasty tour. KISS has always had the fans in mind when touring, a visually spectacular show with a soundtrack second to none. Most recordings show the band trying hard to convince, Gene, Paul, and Ace all play well, Peter not so much yet there is still enough of that original KISS magic.
It seems like it’s been ages since there has been a KISS title that has piqued my interest, this new title from Golden Eggs certainly has. Featuring a recording taken from the Pro Shot video of the second night at the Capital Center in Landover Maryland on July 8, 1979. KISS played two nights at the Cap Center, this being the second date, and both were filmed and are in the band’s archives. A portion of the show was released officially by KISS as part of the KISSOLOGY Vol 2 : 1978-1991 DVD set as a Bonus Disc released only at Sams Club and Best Buy. While the video is not perfect, it is a great example of KISS circa 1979. There have been a couple of bootlegs as well, The Return Of KISS (PolyGene Records 812 770-3-M6) is a CD release from the mid 90’s and Return To The Capital Center (Royal Works RW7081979) is a double LP set from a few years ago.
The sound quality is excellent and should probably be referred to as a soundtrack versus an actual soundboard. The mix is excellent and sounds great but has that VHS tape sound, there’s no getting around it, thankfully it has a little crowd noise that adds some atmosphere. I am guessing the label used a couple versions of the recording for this release, the complete video and the KISSOLOGY set as some songs are a little clearer than others. I had no problem turning this up and it sounds great loud although you get that video white noise sound just a little bit, thankfully it has a nice bottom end and pretty crisp uppers as well. Since all of the 1979 shows I have in my collection are audience sources, this is a much welcome recording, although the Lakeland rehearsal tape is a soundboard, it lacks the actual live vibe. Another plus of this release is that it comes from early in the tour and we get a couple songs from Gene and Peter’s solo records that were dropped in favor of “Klassic” songs soon after this.
The set list for the tour featured a nice shake up from the previous year, King Of The Night Time World is a good opener, it always sounds out of place without Detroit Rock City though. The band hit the stage after the obligatory “All Right Largo…You Wanted The Best You Got The Best…The Greatest Band In The World “. The band sound a little raw but tight, Peter’s drum rolls sound great and are energetic and the adrenaline at hitting the stage is evident. The band go right into Radioactive from Gene’s solo album, certainly one of the better songs from the record and has a old school Rock N Roll vibe. The song segues right into Paul’s solo song Move On. This is more in the KISS Hard Rock vibe, very strong and the other three all play very well and their backing vocals are spot on, great song.
An excellent version of Dr. Love follows, Ace really nails the leads and hits at the perfect time after two new songs. Firehouse has that old school KISS swagger, the band extend the ending to allow Gene plenty of time for his fire breathing escapades and while visually cool, the siren gets a little grating. Ace gets his to play his solo song, the excellent New York Groove, the band pay obvious homage to their hometown by giving shout outs to 42nd Street, Harlem, and Times Square. Ace sings a perfect version and plays a great solo, close your eyes you can see the Spaceman and his light up guitar. I Was Made For Loving You, these early versions find the band trying hard to recreate the lush vocal sound of the studio version, good but not great.
Paul’s Love Gun rap is short and elicits some cheers from the females in the audience, the band play a pretty heavy version of the song. Ace gets his solo spot during the Dynasty song 2,000 Man, his cover of the Rolling Stones song. Always liked the Ace led versions of this song, seems like the other members like to have a blow at a Stones song. While the visual aspect of Ace’s solo is a key part of the show, smoking guitars, levitating guitars etc, there is certainly enough great playing from Ace including a homage to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. A song from Peter’s solo album and a second cover song follows, Tossin’ & Turnin’ is really good, Peter does a great vocal and Ace slams the solo, it’s a little loose in a good way very old school Rock And Roll.
Gene’s solo follows, more ambient bass drone with effects, his solo has always been more visual that technical, although he is a great bass player, it’s all about the blood! This was also the first tour he would rise above his “victims” to the lighting truss, KISSTORY!. God Of Thunder is played a bit faster than older versions, Peter seems a bit behind the song, either loosing steam or interest. His drum solo is merely average of course, simple drum patterns and lacks the energy of years prior. Peter comes in late at the beginning of Shout It Out Loud and the song seems to suffer from his lack of tempo, it keeps changing and the other three push through. Pete’s drumming doesn’t improve during Black Diamond, his vocals sound frayed and even swears a couple times in the song, the other three pick up the slack and help cover the drummers poor performance, as always Ace’s two solo’s are excellent and very dramatic.
The encore break seems to give Pete a chance to “recoup” his energy and Detroit Rock City sounds like it’s their first song, great performance by all four. Beth is a train wreck, Peter forgets some lyrics, sounds out of tune and rather out of it, what is usually a highlight is just kinda sad. Rock And Roll All Nite is the final gasp, and a great one. The band hammer out the Klassic, Pete plays great and the song is a total celebration of Rock And Roll that leads the audience chanting for more. While there are a few duds, overall a strong performance by KISS yet certainly exposes the issues that would eventually lead to Peter’s eventual departure from the band.
The packaging is the tri fold sleeve we are all accustomed too, a couple live shots and then promo face pictures of each of the four members adorn the exterior and interior sleeve. Peter has a big smile and actually looks a little buzzed, the shot of Ace is great as well, he is looking skyward, or is it Spaceward? Golden Eggs and their previous incarnations Godfather Records and Eat A Peach have always shown great respect to the KISS fan with their release choices and packaging, this title is another great release from the label.