KISS' Music From The Elder Still Controversial 32 Years Later

(Classic Rock) Kiss' Music From The Elder was released on November 16, 1981 – 32 years ago this month. Was it the band's worst album or was it an unheralded masterpiece?

Art or arrogance? Love it or hate it, Music From The Elder has long been considered to be the most divisive album released by Kiss (yes, even more so than Psycho Circus or Carnival Of Souls). The Elder is so divisive, in fact, that even we at Classic Rock can't make up our minds about it!

A couple of years back we included The Elder in a list of the Top 50 Worst Albums Ever, saying:

The Pan-Stik'd rock titans dropped a bollock the size of Jupiter with this bafflingly bad tale of one boy's stand against extra-terrestrial invaders.* So embarrassing that guitarist Ace Frehley left the band soon afterwards. The Elder reached its nadir with the God Of Thunder's uber-syrupy ballad A World Without Heroes – closer to Diana Ross than Kiss. Only The Oath kicked something approaching arse.

…Oops! We obviously forgot that way back in Classic Rock issue 72 (November 2004 edition) we named The Elder as one of the 20 Most Underrated Rock Albums Ever, saying:

The Elder was a mad concept album that confused the hell out of everyone. A colossal failure in sales terms, this anomalous release nonetheless has much to recommend it. A spooky atmosphere is conjured up by bizarre opening track The Oath, and a sense of impending doom never departs. For The Elder Kiss rehired Bob Ezrin, who had produced their 1976 classic Destroyer, and whose last project had been Pink Floyd's The Wall. Which probably accounts for much of the demented nature of The Elder. Surprisingly, some of the songs were even co-written with Mr Lou Reed.

Here's what Ace himself had to say about The Elder in his book No Regrets, A Rock'N'Roll Memoir: Bob Ezrin is a brilliant producer, but when it came to the ninth Kiss studio album (and what would turn out to be, for all practical purposes, my last Kiss album for a while), Music From The Elder, I disagreed with him and the band on many issues. I could see it from the beginning. I had the street smarts and common sense to take a giant step back and look at the project with an objective eye, and I knew it was a colossal mistake in judgment. Paul, Gene and Bob didn't get it. They went forward with the whole ridiculous concept.

As anyone who knows rock'n'roll can tell you, concept records can be career killers even for the most talented bands. The problem is that instead of ending up with a masterpiece like Tommy, you could end up with Saucy Jack, Spinal Tap's unproduced rock opera about Jack The Ripper. More from Ace and a lot more.

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