October 15, 2018 Ace Frehley – Spaceman (Album Review)
At the tender age of 67, legendary Rock-n-Roll guitarist Ace Frehley orbits the universe a carefree rocker at heart. As the sensations of a loud guitar flow through his veins, Frehley has made it clear he will never lay down his axe until the day he dies. Suiting up for a new mission, Frehley is set to launch into the stratosphere once again, this time aboard his brand new album, appropriately-titled Spaceman, landing Friday, October 19, 2018, via Entertainment One.
A child of one the toughest boroughs in New York, Frehley grew up a true “Rock Soldier” on the streets of the Bronx as part of a clique called The Ducky Boys. A ladies man, Frehley was given the nickname Ace for being a real pro at getting dates. The moment Frehley picked-up an electric guitar, his life seemingly changed forever. Once Frehley joined KISS in the mid-1970s, his life became immersed in the revels of Rock-n-Roll excess as the guitarist for one of the most revered bands to ever grace the stage.
As expected, Frehley’s career as a solo artist soared right from the start, beginning with the 1978 solo debut, Ace Frehley. In the 1980s, Frehley rocked “Into The Night” with two more wildly-acclaimed albums, 1987’s Frehley’s Comet and 1988’s Second Sighting. Frehley’s Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame career has garnered him guitar icon status, especially among his peers like the late Dimebag Darrell, who was known for having Ace’s face tattooed on his chest – now that is a dedicated fan!
After five decades in music, the notion that one must grow old and retire, never to be heard from again, is a foreign concept to this one-of-a-kind man. As of late, Frehley has added to his catalog, 2009’s Anomaly, 2014’s Space Invader, and 2016’s Origins Vol. 1. In high spirits, Frehley is in great shape, continues to tour, and recently celebrated twelve years of sobriety. No end in sight, Frehley revealed plans for Spaceman to the public back in April, when he released the album’s first single, “Bronx Boy.”
At the time, rumor had it Frehley reunited once again with his old band-mate, KISS Bassist Gene Simmons. To the elation of fans, this so-called rumor proved to be true as Simmons collaborated with Frehley at the guitarist’s home studio in sunny California. As the two spent time reigniting an old Rock-n-Roll flame, Simmons gifted his rumbling bass to two album tracks he co-wrote on Spaceman. A jack of all trades, Frehley played all guitar and remaining bass parts, as he is joined by more longtime bandmates on drums – from his Frehley’s Comet days, Anton Fig – along with Drummers Scot Coogan and Matt Starr.
In traveling alongside the Spaceman, Frehley sounds fresh as ever on the album’s opening track “Without You I’m Nothing,” the first sighting of Gene Simmons on the bass. A blast from the past, long-time listeners will be sparked by the unmistakable Ace Frehley guitar licks amongst a perfectly-timed, steady-paced groove. Kicking it like the 1970s, “Rockin’ With the Boys” is a quintessential, late night jam about a guitarist who misses his girl. Not only that, the song takes on lyrical similarities to the KISS classic, “Beth,” perhaps penning a tribute to Frehley’s closest KISS ally, Peter Criss.
Next, Gene Simmons’ guest bass appears on the feel-good track “Your Wish Is My Command,” complementing Frehley’s electrifying chord progression. The story of a street-wise punk, “Bronx Boy” is easily Frehley’s most endearing performance on Spaceman. Picturing Ace hanging out on the streets as an adolescent, while listening to Frehley reminisce, will give you a sense of satisfying nostalgia. Something we all live for, the “Pursuit of Rock and Roll” is Frehley’s homage to some of his own Rock heroes (Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones) before a really cool cover of Eddie Money’s “I Wanna Go Back.”
Thereafter, “Mission To Mars” keeps the galactic theme of the set as “Off My Back” sees heartbreaker Frehley prefer to no longer be around some poor girl. As Spaceman comes to a head, the closing instrumental, “Quantum Flux” switches up the energy with plush, Prog Rock soundscapes of electric acoustic guitar.
To say Ace Frehley is back would be way off the mark, because, quiet frankly, he never left! The self-descriptive Spaceman shows Frehley doing what he does best: writing great Rock-n-Roll songs that will make you wanna let loose, remember old times, and fall in love. To his loyal army, we implore you to check out Ace Frehley’s Spaceman if you absolutely love great Rock-n-Roll tunes. Crank it up, because CrypticRock gives Spaceman 4 out of 5 stars.
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