I watched a documentary on KISS recently. It was a pretty in-depth affair. Paul and Gene, talking openly, candidly about their long and fabled history. They talked about how the mass-marketing of KISS had begun to hurt their credibility as serious musicians and they cited their 1978 TV movie KISS Meet the Phantom of the Park as the apex.

However, not one word was uttered about their 1981 album Music From the Elder. As John Young wrote in his exhaustive Popdose Guide to KISS:

Entire chapters could be written about KISS’s next project, 1981’s Music from the Elder, an ill-fated concept album produced by Bob Ezrin (who produced Pink Floyd’s The Wall and KISS’s earlier masterpiece, Destroyer). It was such a monumental commercial flop that it nearly bankrupted the band; they literally had to sue Casablanca Records to get back on their feet. The only song worth recommending from this weird collection is ”A World Without Heroes,” an interesting ballad cowritten by Gene and Lou Reed. During the mess that was the recording sessions for The Elder, Ace began making noises about leaving the group, and he was ultimately replaced in the studio during the recording of KISS’s next album, Creatures of the Night (1982).

While it isn’t a great KISS album, it was a brave experiment. They were out to re-invent themselves, a desperate bid to be taken seriously. It’s an album that has enjoyed a new audience from stoner record store clerks and hipsters looking for all things ironic and unintentionally hilarious.

Anyway, for what its worth, here are a series of demo recordings from the Music from the Elder sessions. Some of the songs ended up on the Killers compilation LP and others faded away altogether. It’s a pretty interesting look at a largely (intentionally) ignored and overlooked part of the KISS kingdom.

01-Deadly Weapon
02-Just a Boy – demo take 1
03-Nowhere to Run version 1981
04-Kixx for Kids
05-Dark Light (Don’t Run demo)
06-Council Of The elder (Instrumental)
07-Differences Between Men And Boys (Instrumental)
08-Every Little Bit From Your Heart
09-Differences Between Men And Boys 2
10-The Oath (only Paul vocal and guitar)
11-Just a Boy
12-A World Without Heroes (instrumental)
13-Kixx for a Kids 2 (complete Kiss Line Up demo)
14-Heaven (instrumental)
15-It’s My Life (Gene demo)
16-Killer (only Eric drum track)
17-Partners In Crime (mix demo With Vinnie Vincent on guitar)
18-Rock and Roll Hell (Live Version)

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Ben Wiser

Test of the Boomerang is an in-depth exploration of some of the best material found on the Live Music Archive.

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