It’s the perfect time for legendary guitarist Ace Frehley to release his third studio album; it marks 40 years (unbelievable, I know) since his self-titled release way back in ‘78, and recently rock powerhouse KISS have announced, yet another, World Tour marked for 2019. At the ripe-old age of 67, Frehley has music rooted deep within his veins, and it’s no secret the only time we won’t see him wielding his axe is once he has met his maker; but even then, the legacy that he has created is one that will live on and withstand the test of time.
As aforementioned, he’s suited up for a new solo mission, ‘Spaceman’, launching arguably his best solo performance into the stratosphere with some familiar sounds .. as well as some familiar faces. Frehley reconnected with Gene Simmons (KISS), who co-wrote two tracks on the album as well as lending his iconic bass sound to said tracks, and Anton Fig (KISS/Ace Frehley) who once again has returned to lend Frehley his sound on drums.
The album opens with an unmistakable Simmons bass riff in ‘Without You I’m Nothing’, paired with its signature chugging guitar line and Frehley’s distinctive voice this answers all questions you’re going to have about this album; it’s pure Ace Frehley, at his absolute best! You’ve all heard of the term ‘comfort food’, I’m sure. Well, this is like that … but for your ears! It ticks all boxes, and you can’t help but smile when that first guitar solo kicks into gear.
‘Rockin’ With the Boys’ follows up with iconic KISS feels, and had Frehley released it back in their hayday, it would have sat proudly in their set-list along with staples like ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Detroit Rock City’. Whilst simplistic, it’s packed with a distinctive primordial rock connection. It’s well and truly up there with a lot of Frehley’s past tracks; it’s both timeless, and irresistible.
The second of the tracks that Simmons helped co-write, ‘Your Wish is My Command’ opens up to display slightly smoother flare. It’s unreal to think after all these years, Frehley still wields the power to instantly connect with someone on a musical level – this track is no exception to the rule! It’s neighbouring track, ‘Bronx Boy’, however, isn’t simplistic in the slightest, delivering one of the hardest riffs that Frehley has dealt out to date in which is a dark-side tale from his early days. Once the guitar cranks in he really puts his hands to work. You’re going to love it!
‘Pursuit of Rock and Roll’ is your typical ‘Frehley Track’, using ‘life, liberty and the Pursuit of Rock and Roll’ as its hook, and it’s that sort of child-like essence that has always been one of his most compelling features. It showcases one hell of a riff, and the lyrics are almost painted like a sing-a-long; you’re almost hanging on every word, and can almost predict what he’s going to say next, which makes it all the more enjoyable.
This is followed swiftly by a cover of Eddie Money’s ‘I Wanna Go Back’ which is the first track that dials things back, and withholds a lot of the power that we’ve heard thus far; it’s a lot more gentle in delivery, and more nostalgic in the sense of smoother sound. ‘Mission to Mars’, ironically named given Frehley’s nickname of ‘Spaceman’, builds up slowly, layering spacey guitars before Frehley’s firm hit of vocal hooks drives the song forward. It’s another track that just sounds perfect in his hands, as it swirls and creates somewhat of an out-of-this-world atmosphere.
All of a sudden, we are now staring down the barrel at the end of the album. The penultimate, ‘Off My Back’ is another that just feels right, however it fails (a bit) to stand up against some of the other tracks in the album and leaves a little bit to be desired – which is unfortunate because up until now we’ve experienced some absolute mastery.
The album ties up with ‘Quantum Flux’, showcasing a more ‘progressive’ in sound than that of which I’ve heard from Frehley over the years of listening to his music. With that being said, it hits the corner pocket comfortably, and is the type of performance you’d expect to experience when hearing Frehley’s name. What a way to bring one hell of an album full circle!
The fact that Frehley has been sober for close to 12 years now is showing, because the man is back to his absolute best and you can hear the passion laced within his music (not detracting from past performances, of course). Some will argue, myself included, that this just might be the best solo performance that he’s ever delivered. If you’re a fan throwing yourselves at the mercy of KISS, or Frehley’s mastery, this is one you’re definitely going to want to get your hands on!
Launch into the stratosphere with ‘Spaceman’, by grabbing your copy HERE!