Ace Frehley ‘Spaceman’ Album Review

Ace continues to release quality material post KISS and post substance.  Since 2009 Ace has released four solid solo outings:  ‘Anomaly’, ‘Space Invader’, ‘Origins: Vol 1’ and now the new ‘Spaceman’.  Interesting how he’s released more material than his former band has since the 2000-2002 tour.  And not only that but he’s released stronger material than a lot of KISS’ works.  And ‘Spaceman’ is no different.

This time around Ace is going for ultimate simplicity.  He’s always been a basic, straight up hard rock dude.  But on ‘Spaceman’ there’s really an element of keeping it stripped down.  It’s nine songs, all killer and no filler.  Like it used to be in the old days.  And while the songs are stripped, Ace’s guitar is full and loud.  Particularly loud on this one.  Not as heavy as tracks from ‘Anomaly’ or ‘Space Invader’, but certainly thicker.  And the solo’s this time around are particularly bad ass.  When Ace wants to play to his maximum ability, he can really play.  And there’s no doubt that he may be in the running for the list of top ten most influential guitar players of the past 60 years.  I mean, he’s inspired so many freakin’ players it really is mind blowing when you do the research.  Not a lot of guitarists have inspired just about every lead player from two different schools of metal and hard rock (80’s hard rock and grunge.  Not to mention all the thrash players from the 80’s and 90’s).

The new record starts off with ‘Without You I’m Nothing’.  An ode to the fans.  It’s a catchy opening with some loud power chords and a strong bass melody.  ‘Rockin’ With the Boys’ is basically a hard rocking version of the KISS hit ‘Beth.’  It’s the Ace version essentially.  That doesn’t make it any less relevant however.  It’s got a great sing along chorus and the chords during the verses are catchy.  And of course, as always, Anton Fig’s drums sound massive.  ‘Your Wish Is My Command’ sounds like it would a perfect Ace track on a new KISS album.  But he’s not in the band so it doesn’t really matter.  The solo is classic Ace.  All the hot licks he’s played over the years mashed together in a perfect combination of speed, feel and sing along ability.  ‘Bronx Boy’, the first single, really represents what the album is all about.  Stripped down, raw hard rock with a relic of nostalgia attached.  In many ways the album is autobiographical.

‘The Pursuit of Rock N Roll’ is simply about flying the flag for the genre.  When so many other popular genres have come and gone over the years, this type of hard rock has always prevailed in one way or another.  It’s got a typical Ace/Anton groove to it.  The lyrics are a little on the nose, but that’s fine.  ‘I Wanna Go Back’ is lyrically the deepest of the nine tracks.  There’s a ton of vulnerability in it.  And there’s sort of two meanings to the song.  Ace is talking about how he wants to go back because there were many great times that he wishes could be relived.  But Ace is also talking about how there are many instances in which he could have a second chance.  I suppose ten plus years of sobriety after living a chemical life well into one’s fifties would make them have certain regrets.  ‘Mission to Mars’ is simply perfect Ace.  Another song that would be great on a new KISS album had he stayed in the band.  Not only that but it would have been a great concert staple of his.  But I’m sure we’ll get to hear it when he’s out on the road supporting the album.  The album starts to close out with ‘Off My Back.’  A sort of anti-ballad.  It’s a great mid-tempo rocker with an upbeat riff with interesting texture.  About getting a girl (or guy) ‘Off Yo Back!’  Go figure!  The album finally closes out with yet another chapter in the ‘Quantum’ series.  The instrumental series that started all the way back in 1978 on Ace’s smash solo KISS record.  This time there’s more of an upbeat tempo.  Whilst still remaining true to the original idea of this spacey, trippy instrumental piece.  In fact, this may be the best one in the series.  It’s really got a jam feel to it.  And it’s always a perfect way for Ace to close out his album.

Overall the album is majorly solid.  It’s what you’d want from Ace Frehley.  It’s not his best solo album.  Not quite as strong as ‘Anomaly’ and ‘Space Invader.’  But for a guy in his late sixties who’s been consistent in putting out solid solo material for the past ten years, it’s pretty damn good.  Overall I’m giving out of 3.5 out of 5.  Not exactly excellent or a classic.  But it’s fun, extravagant hard rock record that’s great for getting the energy up to party all weekend.

 

 

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