Classic Album – Ace Frehley (CD review)

Ace Frehley – (1978) – CD review –

It sounded like a good idea in 1978: each member of Kiss release a solo album at the same time.  Problem is, the band’s fan base didn’t have the disposable cash to purchase all four records at once, so the gimmick backfired.  Gene Simmons’ LP, although wildly erratic, charted the highest; while Paul Stanley’s lacked the punch of Kiss, and Peter Criss’ outing showed that, left to his own devises, he had no freakin’ clue.  Then, there was lead guitarist Ace, probably voted the least likely to succeed.

Yet, he not only turns in the finest of the four records, he managed to put together a pretty damn good album in it’s own right.  The tracks on Ace Frehley are closer to straight-ahead rock than the heavy-metal posturing of his parent group.  And, missing from this album are the typical groupie and road songs that Kiss loved to write.  Instead, Frehley gets pretty honest on his personal problems in “Wiped Out,” “Snowblind,” and “Ozone.”  His soloing is spirited; some of the best he’s ever put on record.

Also of note is drummer Anton Fig, who flat-out blows away Peter Criss (for proof, just check out “Rip It Out”).  Although all four members of Kiss sang, Frehley’s voice had never graced a hit of theirs.  That’s why his “New York Groove” was such a triumph, climbing all the way to #13 in early 1979.  Frehley would eventually succumb to the vices mentioned on this record.  But, for one shining moment, Ace is king. –Tony Peters