Ace Frehley: Anomaly

RIYL: Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix

Former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley delivers his first solo album in 20 years, and it’s a big winner. Frehley’s work with Kiss in the 1970s inspired a legion of youngsters to pick up the guitar, including many of those who would gain fame in the alt-grunge explosion of the early ’90s, making Frehley one of the most important influences in rock history. The source of this influence is all over Anomaly.

“Foxy and Free” starts up with a hard rocker where Ace’s voice sounds like it could still be 1978, the year his first solo LP came out. “Outer Space” rocks just as hard in a tale about how Ace came from outer space and “is sick and tried of the human race.” A cover of Sweet’s “Fox on the Run” fits like the proverbial glove. Ace’s vocals are spot-on and the track has a fun vibe. Things really open up on the epic “Genghis Kahn,” a mostly instrumental tune that features a dynamic acoustic intro before giving way to a big jam featuring pulsing bass, Bonham-like drums, and heavy chord changes. The face-melting guitar solo is straight-up sick. It gets even better on “Space Bear,” another monster instrumental featuring a hybrid of classic riffage recalling Zeppelin, Hendrix and early Kiss on one of the best jams Ace has ever laid down.

“Change the World” finds Ace moving in a socially conscious direction that Gene & Paul would never abide on a Kiss album. It’s a catchy number that feels totally natural and features another stellar solo. “A Little Below the Angels” has a similar spiritual vibe, as Ace sings another melodic tune about leaving his wild ways behind so he can move forward. “It’s a Great Life” continues in that vein with a dynamic rocker that starts with a funky groove somewhat recalling David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” before some rocking changes come in as Ace continues to dispel his hard-earned wisdom. “Fractured Quantum” closes the album with a soaring instrumental rocker, the fourth song in the “Fractured” series that started on his 1978 LP. The playing and production work are both superb as Ace demonstrates his musical depth.

It’s that musical depth and the lyrical maturity demonstrated in tunes like “Change the World” that puts Ace light years beyond the current version of Kiss, which currently dresses up former Black and Blue guitarist Tommy Thayer as the Space Ace. It may help sell tickets, but it’s a fraudulent maneuver that Gene Simmons should be ashamed of, if he knew the meaning of the word. (Bronx Born Records 2009)

Ace Frehley MySpace page


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