There are two versions of the US vinyl cover, the original pressing with the intended (and Japanese) running order starting with "Fanfare" and excluding "Escape From The Island", and the second pressing with the proper US track order that starts with "The Oath". Both American pressings have actual identical track orders with only the listing on the back covers being different. Click to see a scan of the incorrect layout.
Ace was very unhappy with the band's choice of Bob Ezrin for producer for the album because Ezrin was the main force behind the new direction the band was going to take. Ace thought that KISS needed to do another heavy metal record to get themselves back on track, but Ezrin pushed them to do the concept album. Eric Carr agreed with Ace, but was not given a vote since he was not part of the original band. Ace was outvoted two to one. Because of this Ace felt even more alienated from the band than he already had. Accordingly he had little to do with the recording other than the two tracks he wrote and recorded himself. Ace was also reported to be unhappy with the final mix of the album which downplayed the guitar work.
Ace and Anton Fig perform all of the instruments on 'Dark Light,' while Ace and Eric Carr perform everything on 'Escape From The Island," two of the album's best tracks.
' The Elder' was the first studio album which Eric Carr appeared on.
When The Elder was released in Japan, the record company designed a cover showing the band in their costumes and makeup that slid over the original cover. It was also not called Music From The Elder; instead it was given the title "Great Decisive Battle of The Underworld." "Escape From The Island" isn't on the Japanese version of 'The Elder,' instead it was released 7 months later on the 'Killers' album.
The hand on the cover is actually Paul Stanley's.
The door on the cover belongs to a Methodist church on Park Avenue in New York
The Elder was an original story for a film written by Gene Simmons. The movie never was produced despite the fact that the soundtrack was written for it.
KISS hoped that The Elder would translate into a string of albums that would be connected by a common thread--this concept of a boy chosen to fight against evil. The Elder would have an immediate follow-up album (tentatively titled 'War of The Gods') that would continue the story line and then a third album of the film's score. Of course, this never happened due to abysmal sales of The Elder. At the time, Pink Floyd was very successful with their concept album, The Wall, and KISS believed that The Elder could do the same for them after the disappointing Unmasked album.
The Elder quickly went out of print and became a hot collector's item in the
80's until it was released on cd by Mercury in 1989. It was the last Kiss album
to see re-issue apparently because both Paul and Gene did not want it to be
released. Apparently they bowed to fan pressure and the album was released in
May of 1989.
The band refined their look for the album as they wanted to be taken seriously. Paul cut his hair short and wore a headband; Gene tied his hair back in a strange-looking ponytail, and Ace also cut his hair into a shag. Oddly enough, Eric Carr was the only member to keep his long hair. Other changes included the nixing of the infamous blood-spitting and wild antics, no more platform shoes and a toning down of the outfits. Needless to say, this hurt the band's image rather than helping it.
An untitled demo was recorded by Ace and Eric at this time and it wouldn't be released until 1992. The song was released as an instrumental on "Hot in the Shade" and called "Carr Jam 1981." According to the liner notes of Revenge, this song was meant to showcase Eric Carr with a 2 to 3 minute drum solo in the middle; essentially it was to be his "Moby Dick". Ace first reworked the song for his 1987 Frehley's Comet album and called it "Breakout" with Anton Fig performing the drums. Eric was given writting credits on the Comet album.
Lou Reed co-wrote "Dark Light," "A World Without Heroes," and "Mr. Blackwell."
"Dark Light" was originally titled "Don't Run" and had different lyrics.
"A World Without Heroes" was originally titled "Every Little Bit of Your Heart."
"Only You" was originally performed as "Eskimo Sun" by Wicked
Lester around 1970, and was a love song.
The stage show for The Elder was to be very elaborate, featuring the band as
Keepers of the Light of Truth, protecting a damsel in distress with a freeze
gun in a three-act play. KISS was going Broadway, but alas it never
Two videos were produced for the album: "A World Without Heroes" and
The only live performance of material from The Elder was on the Friday show on January 15, 1982 as KISS played The Oath, I, and A World Without Heroes. Rumor has it that W.A.S.P.'s Blackie Lawless was in the audience (as a fan) for KISS' appearance on the Friday show.
An appearance on January 28, 1982 at Studio 54 in New York City is significant
because Ace did not perform with the band. He was home sick with "stomach
problems". It was later revealed that Ace's unhappiness had
Eric Carr would receive songwriting credit on "Escape From The Island" and "Under The Rose."
Talk of removing the make-up was first brought up during the making of The Elder.
The Elder peaked at a new low for the band on Billboard's album charts--# 75.
Studio musician Allan Schwartzberg, who had played drums on Gene's solo album, played drums on "I" and "Odyseey". Eric Carr performed drums on the rest of the album.
The 1997 Remasters series features the track listing that the band originally wanted:
One listen and you can see that the album is more cohesive this way. Also of note, the remastered CD has a lot of dialogue and background sounds that were previously inaudible. The artwork on the cover, unlike some of the earlier albums, is poorly reproduced.
"Bob Ezrin is a brilliant producer, but when it came to the ninth KISS studio album, 'Music from "The Elder",' I disagreed with him and the band on many issues. I could see if from the beginning. I had the steet smarts and common sense to take a giant step back and look at the project with and objectice eye, and I knew it was a colossal mistake in judgment. Paul, Gene, and Bob didn't get it. They went through with the whole ridiculous concept."
According to Paul Stanley, The songs we recorded had no teeth. We were gumming the music at that point. We had forsaken everything we loved and embraced. We were intoxicated with fame and success. We were no longer the band everyone loved–and clearly we didn't love that band anymore either. How else to explain the way we veered away from what we did? For a band like ours to be doing something like Music from "The Eldger" truly reeked of the little Stonehenge coming down on the stage during This Is Spinal Tap. It only we had realized. -Paul Stanley, Face the Music-A Life Exposed, p. 261