Great? Rock/Metal Albums of 1981: KISS- Music From The Elder

220px-The_elder_album_cover

Of the four albums I have visited in this rock/metal segment, this 1981 offering from the legendary KISS totally passed me by in the year. I can’t even blame it on being in the marines. The reason this album not only passed me by but many others as well was due to the fact it disappeared almost as soon as it was released. According to history, it was reviled by many fans and although it did receive some positive feedback from the critics, “Music From The Elder” was voted the 44th worst album of all time by Q Magazine and 6th in the category “When great rock bands lost the plot.” Nevertheless, being a fair minded bloke, I thought I would give the album a listen and decide for myself. Still, I would welcome any comments, especially from fellow metal blogger and self confessed KISS-a-holic, Stone from Metal Odyssey fame.

Let me be totally frank, “Music From the Elder” is nowhere near a patch on great KISS albums like “Destroyer,” “Love Gun,” “Alive” or even some of the albums they made following this one like “Creatures of the Night.” However, the album isn’t as terrible as I feared it was going to be. The opener, “The Oath” was an attempt to create the earlier KISS sound at least as far back as “Dynasty” anyway and it is a notable effort on their part. Then came the instrumental “Fanfare” which had me thinking “WTF?” Fortunately, things return to normal, well sort of. I am sure that with “Just a Boy,” that KISS are trying to sound like The Who here and while not a bad song, it doesn’t leave me thinking, “Okay, cool.” Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons manage to rescue things a bit with the tracks “Dark Light,” “Only You” and “Under the Rose” but then comes the ballad “A World Without Heroes” and I am left saying to myself “No” and that if I was listening this back in 1981, I would say, “Leave the ballads to Peter Criss.” “Dr Blackwell” does go a good long way to redeem things and I do like the guitar solo on this song. Then after another instrumental which isn’t too bad, they try to be creative with “Odyssey.” Not sure if it works though. At the end, barring a very short instrumental which perhaps shouldn’t be on there was a pleasant surprise for me. I have heard the the track “I” before. It wasn’t recorded by KISS but covered in 2000 by the band Hair of the Dog on their album “Rise.” For them, “I” was a great closer for a great metal album and there is little comparison to it and the version done by KISS on this album. I think that the song was good enough for Hair of the Dog to record it just like the way it is done here. That song should have been the closer.

hotdrise

I guess I should mention that “Music From the Elder” was the first KISS album to fully feature new drummer Eric Carr who replaced Peter Criss when he left the band a year earlier. Most of you probably already knew that.

Track Listing:

1. The Oath

2. Fanfare

3. Just a Boy

4. Dark Light

5. Only You

6. Under the Rose

7. A World Without Heroes

8. Dr Blackwell

9. Escape From the Island

10. Odyssey

11. I

12. Finale

KISS

KISS

Paul Stanley- rhythm guitar,vocals

Gene Simmons- bass, vocals

Ace Frehley- lead guitar, vocals

Eric Carr- drums, percussion, backing vocals

My final verdict here is that if KISS had remained more true to their hard rocking roots, I think “Music From the Elder” would have been a much better album. I have no problem with an album telling a story through its songs, King Diamond”s “Abigail” does that beautifully. It doesn’t mean a band has to go all progressive to do so and that’s where this album falls down. The other thing I can see with the album, with the aid of hindsight, that KISS were beginning to move away from Gene Simmons’ 1980 boast that KISS were four guys equally covering for each other towards simply becoming Paul and Gene’s band.

Next post: Ozzy Osbourne- The Blizzard of Oz

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13 Responses to “Great? Rock/Metal Albums of 1981: KISS- Music From The Elder”

  1. I absolutely love The Elder. It’s definitely an odd one out in their catalogue but I love it every time I listen to it.

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  2. I’m sure u will get some debate on the Elder for sure. For me personally in 81 it was all ACDC,discovering Leppard,Maiden,Priest and Rush and as I recall there was about two of us that purchased the Elder and it was like well the Ace Tunes rock and it was left at that . I think the whole concept album idea with a supposed movie in the mix as well was a little,too much but than again Kiss knew they were sinking and fans like myself were finding other hard rock acts so it was a Hail Mary that got fumbled in the end zone.
    I mean getting Ezrin who just did the Wall album at the time I Kiss thought hey we can do our own Wall….
    But 30 plus yrs later I actually don’t mind this at all…..

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    • Living in North Carolina at the time, I was riding the wave of Southern Rock that had gripped the US at the time, probably another reason why I missed this one. You’re probably right about KISS trying to do their own version of “The Wall” and your analogy is spot on.

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  3. Concept albums are usually very good, in my opinion (Queensryche “Operation: Mindcrime” is the only one I’ve heard that is good…in fact, that one is a masterpiece!).

    But I’m a big KISS fan, so of course I have this album. I don’t listen to it very often though.

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  4. Here’s one suggestion for you: Because you mentioned, if the new Kiss album had just been a regular Kiss album without the concept would have better, which is probably true. Check the album Kiss Killers,also from 1981. It has four “new” songs that are where Kiss were going before they decided to go with the concept album. The songs are pretty good, and very much just hard rock like you suggest.

    Great review and agreed with everything.

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