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Kiss : Music from The Elder
(Casablanca - 1981)
Category : misunderstood
3,33 stars

I'm alone on this one, it seems. Nobody seems to like The Elder, not the critics, not the fans, not even the band itself, who don't want to hear its title mentioned ever again. I can understand why the members of Kiss dislike the album. It sold badly, got them negative critics everywhere, it even caused Ace Frehley to leave the band. It's lucky for them the following albums 'Creatures of the Night' and 'Lick it Up' were good (which cannot be said for all their albums) or it could also have been a carreer ender.

Like most Kiss fans of the time, I loved the band for all the wrong reasons. The make up, the high heels, the firebreathing and that longest tongue in Rock. But with their emphasis on looks Kiss had attracted a lot of young fans, who didn't really know the difference between a good song and a warthog's droppings. All they, or should I say 'we', cared about was getting out the air guitars and sticking out our tongues as far as we could (much to the despair of our parents, which made it even better).

With followers like that what on Earth were the members of Kiss thinking when they felt that they had been doing the same thing for too long and decided to release a concept album (scream in horror, now)? They had clearly underestimated the conservative nature of their fans who thought it was hard to digest. Why did this album sound so different from what they were used to? What with all those soft passages? And where was the obligatory band picture on the album sleeve? This was lame! At the same time Rock critics said the album was pompous and uneven at best, leaving the band even more frustrated and finally causing them to dismiss 'The Elder' as a sad mistake.

In my case it was only 10 years after its release that I was able to appreciate 'The Elder' for what it really was: an attempt by four musicians to break the mold that had held them for too long. The result may not be their best album (although I think it comes close) and it may indeed sound pompous, but it's also without a shadow of a doubt their most adventurous album ever. With its Progressive tendencies and the big contrasts between the different songs, it's easy to understand the resistance it met with the teenagers of the time. But it's always easy to say these things in retrospect.

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