You can’t blame Kiss for wanting to bury the material from their maligned 1981 album Music From “The Elder.” But defenders of the misguided conceptual odyssey can now see the previously unreleased music video for the song “I” below.
On an album stuffed with orchestral arrangements and botched attempts at narrative songwriting, “I” recalls Kiss’ hard-rocking glory days. The track is anchored by punchy, swinging drums (played by session musician Allan Schwartzberg instead of newly recruited drummer Eric Carr) and muscular guitar riffs, with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley trading lead vocals.
The song is a passionate ode to drug-free living and self-determination. “Don’t need to get wasted / It only holds me down / I just need a will of my own / And the balls to stand alone,” Simmons sings. (The band had recently fired original drummer Peter Criss for failing to curb his drug use; guitarist Ace Frehley would soon depart for similar reasons.)
Simmons, who cowrote “I” with producer Bob Ezrin, told Yahoo! Entertainment that it’s one of the few Elder songs he still liked, calling it “semi-autobiographical about my stance about [being] antidrugs. I believe in me. Why would I hurt my body and my mind?”
For all of Kiss’ lofty and ultimately unrealized cinematic ambitions for Music From “The Elder,” the video for “I” looks laughably low-budget. The band performs in front of a small, enthusiastic audience on a stage that appears to be fashioned into some sort of ice cave. Simmons mugs for the crowd, sticking out his tongue at a young woman who reciprocates the gesture. Stanley, meanwhile, snaps his fingers and swivels his hips while sporting a purple headband more fitting of Olivia Newton-John than the self-proclaimed “Hottest Band in the World.”
Kiss released “I” as the second and final single off Music From “The Elder,” following “A World Without Heroes.” While the former managed to hit No. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100, “I” failed to chart, further solidifying Music From “The Elder”‘s status as a commercial failure.
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