Ace Frehley – Spaceman
Label: eOne Music
Release Date: October 19, 2018
Okay, I’ll admit it, Paul Stanley is my favorite member of KISS. It’s a burden I’ll have to carry to my grave. Despite that, Ace Frehley has always been a close second. No one can deny he has been the most successful alum of KISS as a solo artist, even when the band launched concurrent solo efforts together in 1978. Tracks, like “Rip It Out,” “Snow Blind,” “New York Groove.”, and “Fractured Mirror,” are indelible classics. Ace Frehley has always been this wacky, off-the-cuff fretster, whose style is often loose, even sloppy at times, yet, he is still a master guitarist, and one of the most influential in rock and roll.
Spaceman marks Ace’s sixth studio effort of original solo material, and the follow up to 2016’s covers album, Origins, Vol. 1. As with his previous effort, he tapped a former KISS mate to help out on the new record. Last time it was Paul, this time, Gene Simmons joins the party. Ace and Gene wrote two tracks for the new record together, album opener, “Without You I’m Nothing” and “Your Wish is My Command.” On the former, Frehley name checks his own autobiography, No Regrets and Simmon’s bass has that trademark beastly rumble.
Ace played all the guitars on Spaceman, as well as all the bass parts, not counting the two Simmons lent his four-strings to. Going back to his roots lends an air of vintage swagger to the record, and Frehley embraces that vibe on the album’s first single, “Rockin’ with the Boys,” which is a raucous and playful counterpart to the old KISS ballad, “Beth.”
The album’s second single, “Bronx Boy” is the somewhat autobiographical nod to Ace’s pre-KISS era. Frehley manages to channel his teenage attitude into this biting tribute to his own “wasted” youth. Now more than a decade sober, Frehley can look back on his wild upbringing and revel in his ability to not only survive, but to thrive beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
Longtime friend and drummer Anton Fig makes a return for the bombastic rocker, “Pursuit of Rock and Roll.” This is followed by an unlikely cover of Eddie’s Money‘s “Wanna Go Back,” a song, Frehley chose to remake because, as he declares: “It’s about me.” Truly the idea is one all of us elder rockers can relate to and rally around.
He wouldn’t be able to tout his Space Ace creds without at least one track about a requisite salute to the cosmic side of his personality, which he taps into on “Mission to Mars.” Frehley follows this up by getting his New York groove on in the broken relationship strutter, “Off My Back”.
Of course it would not be a true Ace Frehley album without an instrumental foray closing it all out. This time the spacester gives us “Quantum Flux.” While still speaking to Frehley’s fractured roots, this one also allows us to experience Ace’s more laid back wisdom. He’s seen it all, done it all, and sold the t-shirt. A half century of creating and making music, taking the hard knocks and living a life of excess before finding one’s center on the journey, is all captured within this song and this record.
With Spaceman, Ace Frehley has come full circle as a musician and songwriter, putting himself out there as he says, “with no regrets.” Ace sings with more confidence than ever before, and his playing remains impeccable and electrifying. Spaceman resonates with the feel of his 1978 solo debut, and that’s the sweet spot for all Frehley fiends and fans. It’s as if he’s traveled back in time 40 years. You keep rockin’ with the boys, Ace. We’ll be here waiting to see what you come up with next.