What could be less promising at this stage of the game than a concept album by Kiss? After having written off Kiss as pure pap for eight-year-olds, who even wants to think about taking them seriously? Yet their new songs are catchy, the performances respectable, and, despite its concept, Music from “The Elder” is better than anything that the group has recorded in years.
Ah, yes, the concept. According to the liner notes, “The Elder are an ideal…. They embody the wisdom of the ages and the power of goodness and knowledge.” What, no part for Gene Simmons? “In every place, in every time, an evil is loosed whose sole purpose is to destroy all that is good.” Oh, there it is. “It is the task of the Elder to find and train a warrior…a champion to conquer the evil.” You can probably guess the rest.
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For all its Marvel Comics predictability, however, Music from “The Elder” comes off quite well, thanks mostly to producer Bob Ezrin. By scaling down the band’s bluster and adding orchestral sweetening, Ezrin makes Kiss sound strangely like Jethro Tull. Throw in some honest-to-goodness melodies and you’ve got a Kiss LP you can listen to without embarrassment.