Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Ace Frehley, by Ace Frehley

Since former Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley has been getting noticed quite a bit in rock press recently, I figure for Throwback Thursday I should take a look at his first solo album simply titled Ace Frehley. In mid to late 1978, Kiss was at the peak of their commercial success. That being said, their management wanted to take them even higher in terms of popularity. For this, they decided to have the band do two things: each member making an individual solo album released on the same day and also making a movie about Kiss being superheroes which would be called Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park.

Each solo album allowed each of the members of Kiss to go off and explore all the other forms of musical influence they had that made them who they were as musicians. For Frehley this meant really delving into various forms of guitar playing. His album ranges from straight up rockers to funk tunes to stuff that was a little more experimental at the time. Ace Frehley ended up being the highest in the charts over the other three members of Kiss. The only song from the albums that got any radio airplay at all was Frehley's cover of New York Groove, written by Russ Ballard and originally performed by Hello.

Frehley's cover of New York Groove sticks fairly close to the original Hello version, though his is more funky rather than bluesy. Frehley's version is also a half step lower in key and has a fairly high use of a wah pedal. Personally, I like the Frehley version more because it has more of a rhythm and groove that you can actually dance and move to a bit. It's mid tempo, but it's a good dance song nonetheless. Plus, Frehley's vocal style really seems to suit it and give it a little more personality than the original. I can see why this song made it into the charts in 1978.

The song from this album that many of Frehley's fans including myself remember however is Speedin' Back to My Baby. This one is a straight up rocker with a lot of blues structure to it. It has a nice swing rhythm to it while Frehley showcases some of the best of his guitar chops. The intro lick itself is enough to grab anyone by the balls and throw them into the song. The song itself is pretty basic including its lyrical content, but any fan of straight up rock can easily look past it. It's three and a half minutes of pure rock n' roll fun.

Ace Frehley is a pretty good album. Not the best I've ever heard, but it can definitely compete with anything Kiss has done as a group. It is very guitar oriented, but considering who made it I expected nothing different. There are quite a few tunes I could take or leave, but the tunes I do like I REALLY like. Be that as it may, it's still worth picking up if you can find it in a shop or if you want to get an electronic version online. No one's Kiss collection is complete without this album and the other three solo albums.

Ace Frehley, by Ace Frehley receives 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Rip It Out
2. Speedin' Back to My Baby
3. Snowblind
4. Ozone
5. What's On Your Mind?
6. New York Groove
7. I'm In Need of Love
8. Wiped-Out
9. Fractured Mirror

Buy the album on Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. Best of the four Kiss solo albums, and better than a vast chunk of their post-70s catalog.