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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

IN RETROSPECT

(Music from) The Elder album cover

In 1981 Kiss released 'Songs From The Elder' despite Ace Frehley's pleas to make a rock n' roll record instead. In 'Behind The Make-up' (2001) Producer Bob Ezrin admits to abusing heroin during the recording of the 'The Elder', and that he now believes that Ace Frehley was right.

Yes, and no.

Ace Frehley was right, because the world, then and now, is not ready for a serious album from Kiss. The merchandising, marketing, make-up, pyro, and endless rhyming of 'knees' and 'please' created a monster that could not be un-made.

But the album is very good. If it had been made by a different band, it may be considered a classic instead of a bargain bin inhabitant.

It's a concept record, a fantasy adventure; the classic battle between good and evil, innocence versus corruption. It failed miserably.

I love it. The production is lush. Bob Ezrin on smack is still a force to be reckoned with. Bob even brought in the likes of Lou Reed to help pen some of the tunes.

There are some unfortunate moments. The opening 'fanfare' is particularly weak, and the closing number 'I', an anti-drug anthem, doesn't belong anywhere near the record. The meat of the record is quite good, however. Songs like 'Odyssey', 'Under The Rose', 'Only You', and 'A World Without Heroes' suggest an adult sensibility so alien to Kiss that the knee-jerk reaction in 1981 was a resounding 'huh?'.

I certainly don't expect anyone to run out and buy this record, though if they did, they'd end up with the re-sequenced reissue, which is even better than the original release. If, however, you have a copy lying dormant these many years, I suggest you bust it out for a fresh listen. You might be surprised.

Comments:
It always weirds me out when I realize I have a record that I totally forgot I had. The last was Dear You from Jawbreaker. So yeah, I have The Elder on vinyl. Who knew? Can't remember the last time I listened to that. Though, I do have an MP3 of Dark Light.

"Who do you think you're foolin'?"
 
"...endless rhyming of 'knees' and 'please' created a monster that could not be un-made."

You are the man.
 
A sociologist back in the the late seventies did a study about the 'Knees and Please' thing, I forget the exact number, but between Gene, Paul, and Ace, there was over 50 instances of that rhyme scheme.
 
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