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4.2 out of 5 stars31
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2006
(Music From) the Elder has divided KISS fans for a quarter of a century. Some dispise the records as being silly, misguided or just plain awful. Others see it as KISS showing a more serious side to complement their simplistic bombast of the 1970s, while other (like myself) see a bit of both.

The album has numerous moments of brilliance. Under the Rose is perhaps their best kept secret, dark, compelling, mystical, Gene sings the song with real force. A complete departure from anything the band had ever done before, it was a magnificent song. World Without Heroes shows Gene in fine form again with a sad, mournful theme, wonderful lyrics that hit home with real resonance and a fantastic guitar solo. The other real standout of the album is the final track, simply titled 'I'. It is classic KISS, heavy, anthemic, fist pumping rock 'n' roll. Only the outro of the song, with its referrences to the concept of the album tie it in with the rest of the songs. Bizarrely, it is ignored by the band live, despite being not only in the same vein as their classic 1970s output but also much betetr than a lot of it. Then we come to the low points on the album. Most of them centre around Paul Stanley who took to the concept like a fish out of water, usually a fish singing falsetto. Just a Boy seems to be picking up and developing into a strong song until the Star Child croons into the heavens to ruin it. The same happens with the Oath, spoilled by Stanley's shrill shrieking. He even manages to ruin the half decent Only You. Dark Light is the last track Ace Frehley recorded with the band but is well below his previous offerings. Fanfare and Escape from the Island are decent instrumental pieces but are nothing special. And others such as Odyssey and Mr Blackwell could suck a football through a hosepipe.

There clearly was some talent floating around the studio when this album was recorded. Unfortunately producer Bob Ezrin tried to turn KISS into something they were not and misdirecdted the work. It has some awesome moments, but is let down by far too many poor ones. Nonetheless it is worth buying for those strong moments alone.
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on 2 July 2011
After 1976's Bob Ezrin-produced `Destroyer', it would have seemed a no-brainer for Kiss to record a soaring metal concept album. So, when the venture finally came to pass in 1981, I imagine a reteam with Alice Cooper's producer promised a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, with Kiss all over the place after their disco bubblegum musings with `Dynasty' and `Unmasked', and public and behind the scenes line-up changes, the final project - `Music from The Elder' - took its place as an unfortunate, if interesting and ambitious, misfire.

The problem with this album is that, rather than pick up where `Destroyer' left off and produce another soaringly energetic hard rock opus, it is infected with too much of the glossy pop stylings of the previous two albums and too many middle of the road leanings. It is heavy and serious in parts, while slight, comic-book-like and a bit dumb in others. It veers wildly from being complex to simplistic; thunderous to Disney-eque. Not only does it feel too planned and thought through, it never manages to be abandoned, which was the winning quality of `Destroyer' - and of successful rock in general. It always feels constrained by its ambitions, which in turn tends to give the unfortunate impression that the band's reach was beyond their abilities.

That is not to say that it is poor. Over half the songs on `The Elder' are very good. They just needed to aim for metal and energy, rather than portentous prog rock. Aside from Alice Cooper, Bob Ezrin had also produced Lou Reed's `Berlin' in 1973, which might account for Reed appearing as co-writer on a number of songs here. Former Brill Building contract songwriter, Tony Powers, is also a major co-writer. This hodge podge of creative input could have delivered big dividends, but it doesn't. This is most notable in Powers' `Odyssey'. Though it has a mythic quality, the Broadway-esque tone and emphasis on piano take it far away from anything Kiss had or ever would record. Despite being beautifully sung by Paul Stanley, it just isn't Kiss. Elsewhere, strings and choirs - things that worked on `Destroyer' - lend a suitable theatricality to proceedings, but weigh the album down.

None of the individual songs are terrible (a major achievement for Kiss!) In fact, some are outstanding. The yearning ballad, `A World Without Heroes', sung and co-written by Gene Simmons (with Stanley, Ezrin and Reed) is absolutely stunning. `The Oath', sung by Stanley, comes close to a `Destroyer' rocker, though is knee-capped by restrained production and an over-reliance on falsetto. `Just A Boy', again sung by Stanley, sounds like Kiss despite its medieval style and the bombastic `Under the Rose', complete with baritone choir, is durgey, heavy and powerful. Ace Frehley's songwriting (`Dark Light' and the instrumental `Escape from the Island') is relatively weak and stylistically out of place (maybe an indication of his disdain for the concept) and the final stab at recapturing `Rock and Roll All Nite' in the anthem, `I', is adequate and less embarrassing than incessant later attempts by the band to do so.

Dedication to a more rock/metal approach might have saved this record. As it stands it is sadly, seriously flawed but undeniably interesting - and far better than critics would have you believe.
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on 25 November 2003
This is probably the most-lamented album in the KISS catalogue. Not many KISS fans would admit to liking this album in the 80's and it's easy to see why. It didn't sound anything like what KISS did before or after. (To be fair it does show a certain resemblance to the other orchestrated master piece Destroyer. Guess that's the Bob Ezrin touch.) After a couple of fairly weak-sounding albums, and pretty weak material on Unmasked, this is what KISS decided to release? Commercial suicide.
But, the songs are awesome. It's not KISS as most people know them but for me that isn't necessarily bad. This album contain some absolute gems and with the restored original track sequence it's a much better album than the vinyl issues. The remastering is spot on with the bass becoming much clearer and the separation between the instruments is stellar. The most pleasant suprise among the KISS remasters.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 December 2008
where to start? mis guided,ill judged,craving attention to their quality as musicians,run out of ideas?probably a mixture of all of the above.This disc has been the black sheep of the kiss catalog but its not a bad album,the poorest choice is stanley's attempt to sing in a higher range,this should have been nixed immediately,the oath and just a boy are diminished because of it,the oath should have still been played live with lower vocals,it would make my fantasy set list.Simmons turns in some quality mr blackwell in particular could easily have replaced god of thunder as his solo bass extravaganza,in fact i would have had both in(yep the fantasy set list 'blackwell being the lead in to god of thunder),again there are depths to this disc if you give it a chance and its certainly more rewarding than the autopilot bon jovi garbage which would haunt most of the late 80's
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on 7 November 2012
A very soft, heart felt musical rock album. I think about a boys rise from nothing to a saviour of his people after being trained by elders (Order of the Rose).
Album sales and tours were apparantly bad, but it has become a cult classic.
I heard this album when I was quite young, so actually appreciated the music for what is was. A musical fantasy from some dungeon and dragon scenario. It's the way I think about it to this day.
Songs from the dark side of the mind (Mr. Blackwell) and the triumphant (Just a boy)!
You won't find much like it.
Fantastic!
:-)
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on 2 December 2012
In terms of sales this 1981 Kiss album failed to deliver. Very much due to the fact that generally Kiss fans were not expecting or ready for the musical direction Kiss took for this album. On top of that, it was a concept album, meant as a soundtrack for a film which eventually never made it to see the light of day.
All of this aside and taking the album for what it is "Music From The Elder" is a solid piece of music. The album's concept is that of a young hero being prepared for the fight against evil. It's a journey from doubt to confidence. The atmosphere of this concept is tangible within the musical variety offered throughout the album. Listening the album from start to finish gives this music an added feel.

As mentioned, the album has a rich variety between the tracks. Originality is certainly not lacking and the album contains strong melody lines. Compositionally, I would say, this is one of Kiss' finest works.
My main point of criticism would be that when the album intends to rock I sometimes feel this could have been done with more fire. There are moments I feel it would have been a better album if songs like "Dark Light" would have had more power or enthusiasm.
This power, however, is ever so apparent on "The Oath", which ranks among Kiss' best tracks EVER, or the instrumental "Escape From The Island". "Under The Rose" is a slow paced song that features a male choir, which makes this song heavy and bombastic. -What a move! "Odyssey" is very orchestral and just one example on the album displaying very strong melody. "I" delivers an upbeat and optimistic ending to the album.
These are just a number of comments that come to mind.

As with all albums, it's always good to listen before purchase. I do, however, suggest you give this album a complete spin before placing your verdict.
If you're looking for quintessential rock 'n' roll Kiss, then this album is not what you're looking for. In that case I suggest you try "Destroyer", "Kiss", "Alive!", "Alive II", to name but a few.
I recommend this album to be listened to with an open mind and approaching it as a piece on its own. What I urge you NOT to do is to compare it to other Kiss albums as the music is simply too different.

"Music From The Elder" is an adventure worth exploring and comes with a solid 4-star recommendation tag.

Note of warning:
There are various versions of the albums. This matters as the different versions have the songs in different order, which disrupts the experience of the album when listening from start to finish. The original international version is the one I recommend. It has the songs in the following order:
1."Fanfare" 2."Just a Boy" 3."Odyssey" 4."Only You" 5."Under the Rose" 6."Dark Light" 7."A World Without Heroes" 8."The Oath" 9."Mr. Blackwell" 10."Escape from the Island" 11."I"
Being familiair with the original LP I made the mistake of buying the wrong version on CD and have been quite annoyed with it, so make sure you get the right one.
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on 2 August 2012
If kiss had released another hard rocking release the same year as this one , noone would have been upset. fans would have seen this a bonus , and forgiven them the expirementation of making a rcck opera. It's a decent rock opera , not a great one but a decent one with some really great songs and mostle average ones. But I learned to enjoy this one as time wore on. In the year this came out though fans were not happy as the last release was a pop music release. And a good one at that, but once again there was NO regular hard rock release, hard rock is this bands job description and they relized this with their next release 'creatures of the night' , but here we have a rock opera with a orchestra. However there are some really great songs on here like 'I', which states" I don't need to be wasted, it only brings me down' which is actually right! or the wonderful song 'a world without heroes' , 'dark light' is also a highlight on this one. This is a disc that is not terrible and fans were right to be angry because they didn't give us a hard rock release the same year, but they should have come back later to give this one a listen, it's a decent rock opera.
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on 3 November 2015
"I'm afraid this is the last straw for kiss"??, "Is this the same band? "wtf?? that's not me saying that, its a typical review of this album at the time. The Elder is a bit different to what they released prior to this, that cannot be argued. What can be argued is that the compositions on this album make it in the top three or four kiss studio albums. Tracks like "only you" and "I" could sit comfortably on the likes of unmasked or dynasty and the magnificent "The Oath" would have been revered in the same way as Detroit Rock City had it been released on Love gun or indeed the Destroyer album. As far as i'm concerned, Kiss output peaked with their debut album Kiss way back in '74. Downhill from there i'm afraid. That's not a bad thing, their first album is truly magnificent. Kiss are clever, they see the trends and adapt. It doesn't always work. This time it did. I'm a fan, id buy and enjoy an album by these guys if they just recorded the four of them sitting on stage pi*ssing in a bucket. Always and forever the greatest most entertaining live band on the planet...
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on 16 April 2014
THIS IS THE ORIGINAL VERSION OF THE ELDER WITH FANFARE BEING THE FIRST TRACK & RESTORED WITH THE CHANTING AT THE END .
AT THE START OF THE 80s KISS WERE SUFFERING FROM FAILING RECORD SALES .
PETER CRISS HAD GONE & ERIC CARR WAS HERE TO STAY . SO IN EUROPE KISS RE-ARANGED THE ALBUM TRACKS PUTTING THE OATH AS THE FIRST SONG ON THE ALBUM TO GIVE THE FANS AN HEAVIER OPENING TRACK .
ON THIS RE-RELEASED/RE-MASTED VERSION IT'S OBVIOUSE THAT SOME OF THE TRACKS HAVE BEEN OVERDUBBED - EXAMPLE GENE SIMMONS BASS ON THE INSTRUMENTAL TRACK " ESCAPE FROM THE ISLAND " SOUNDS LIKE IT'S TOTALY BEEN RE-RECORDED. THERE IS ALSO CLEAR ANALOGUE TAPE SPOOLING NOISES THAT CAN BE HEARD ON SOME OF THE TRACKS.
IT'S ALSO OBVIOUS THAT ERIC CARR IS À FAR SUPERIOR DRUMMER THAN PETER CRISS EVER WAS. AND CARR IS ALSO À LOT BETTER THAN ANTON FIGG WHO PLAYED ON THE DYNASTY ALBUM &.THE UNMASKED ALBUM.
OVERALL STILL AN EXCELLENT KISS ALBUM 30 + YEARS AFTER ITS ORIGINAL REALESE.
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on 12 January 2015
A few years ago I started working my way through the back catalogue of KISS but, due to the consistently bad reviews('KISS' great folly', 'KISS weirdest album ever), I stayed clear of this album, along with that 90's 'grunge' album with 'Jungle' on it. However having recently joined Spotify, curiosity got the better of me and I sought out this album, And you know what, it's actually very good. Yes, Paul's falsetto grates a few times and there are a couple of weak songs, but this can be said of nearly all their records. Even Destroyer has its weak moments (Flaming Youth anyone?). Yes it's storyline is vague (a young medieval boy’s journey to become a some sort of knight) and some songs are very Broadway (woodwinds, a string section, even a choir).
But I can't help liking it find myself listening again and again.
After this I might just give that 'grunge' album a listen....
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