Albums to rediscover: Kiss - Music from The elder


Dear friends, today I have a lot of things to say and, being prolix by nature, I spare you many personal preambles and go to straight the point, suggesting a rather peculiar listening... to you... and congratulations to those who manage to get to the bottom of the reading without yawning.


Let's face it: in 1981 KISS practically did everything! 
They have conquered the arenas with their non-original rock but with an undoubtedly suggestive stage presence, they have released a handful of successful classics and a couple of "extensively retouched" lives (sensational was the case of "Tomorrow and Tonight", never played live and present in "Alive II"), put on the market gadgets of dubious taste, sent their blood to mix with ink for a comic dedicated to them, released a horrible film (but I'll tell you about it), conquered the discos with "I Was Made for Lovin' You", attempted an unsuccessful pop turn ("Unmasked") and torpedoed drummer Peter Criss for his excesses, in favor of Eric Carr (RIP). 

Here comes the enlightenment: they tried to do like The Who, trying the rock opera card! Yeah, but since we're talking about KISS (slightly megalomaniacs) the release of a trilogy of albums is announced that will be the soundtrack to a movie... all very nice, and in fact the album was released with the title "Music From The Elder"(the soundtrack before the film is something weird...), turns out to be a colossal fiasco already in the making, with Ace Frehley so opposed to the point of recording his parts remotely and leaving soon after (his presence on the cover of Creatures of the night is just marketing). Even Gene Simmons will go so far as to say "As a KISS album I rate it 0, as a Genesis album I rate it 2"; now, leaving aside the fact that the similitude between KISS and Genesis is questionable, let's go and see what lies behind the door depicted on the cover.


Disruptive. This is actually the first word that comes to mind from listening to the album: we're really talking about a real U-turn, at least for most of the work. Accomplices great orchestrations (on The Odyssey it adds so much more), Gregorian choirs (Under the Rose) and two instrumentals - even if the first is more of an intro - the fans find themselves on their hands something that is not they had never heard of and never expected from the band. Yet the whole has several peaks inside, unjustly placed in the cellar, I would add: the epic "The Oath", for example, or the powerful "Dark Light" (the only contribution by Ace Frehley), or the hilarious final "I", not to mention the semi-ballad "Only You" and, above all, "A World Without Heroes" (which will be fished out, Deo Gratias, on the occasion of Unplugged). Undoubtedly the lyrics discount a certain banality here and there, a prime example is the Simmons song "Mr. Blackwell" ("... you're not well, oh Mr. Blackwell, why don't you go to hell ...", I won't add anything else), but overall the work has its own listenability and, if we free ourselves from the classic image of the group, it has its own more than dignified raison d'etre, at least 85% of the work. 

I realized that I haven't talked about the plot, therefore: there is a world devastated by a villain (Mr. Blackwell, again), a chosen one is identified who is not ready, then becomes ready and is therefore able to go beat up the bad guy's ass... we will know how things will go at the end of the album... ah no, not really.


Unfortunately, the fiasco decreed by critics and the public will determine the death of the project which will therefore remain confined to a single album (and no film, of course); there is only a small live special for German TV in which the group performs "The Oath", "A World Without Heroes" and "I", in addition to the aforementioned Unplugged. 
The band will retrace its steps first by recording perhaps their most "Metal" album (the beautiful "Creatures of the Night") and then try the unmasking card and throw themselves first on the glam, then on the AOR and ending the tour with the most classic - and beautiful - "Revenge" (swan song by Eric Carr who will die of a very rare heart cancer...); at that point, there will be yet another Alive, the farewell tour, a grunge record, except for the name ("Carnival of sins") before a comeback in the mask without major evolutions but with three widely successful albums ("Psycho Circus", above all).

In recent times, fans have asked the group to re-evaluate the good "Music from the Elder", but the response of the band has always been "Best wishes for a speedy recovery!" and any attempt by outsiders to carry out a movie, narrative or theatrical transpositions has always been more or less covertly boycotted. Who knows if one day the rumor will reach the dollar-shaped ears of good Gene Simmons of "the sequels from a distance"

Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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