8/12: REVIEW OF ACE FREHLEY’S “SPACE INVADER” ALBUM.
Been asked by many for my review of the new Ace Frehley album. I have been living with it for a while now and premiered the title track last night on my radio show. I have been hesitant to post a review because many will feel it will be bias because of my long time friendship with him. However anyone who TRULY follows me and what I do knows I give my honest view regardless of personal relationships on all things. So with that in mind here’s my take; this is a very solid hard rock album. Is it a masterpiece? No. Is it as good as the ’78 record? No, but in some ways pretty damn close. But it is not 1978 and Ace is not 30, and we haven’t had 35 years to live with this to see how it holds up. But it is an album better than many will expect and certainly delivers in many areas. It is pretty simple really. If you are an Ace fan, love his persona, attitude and playing, you will love the album. The album has a space theme running throughout. Maybe a statement of ownership from the original (and in my opinion only) spaceman? Production is solid. It sounds live, guitars loud, and it really jumps out at you (maybe at times a bit too much). Maybe the most amazing thing about the album is Ace’s voice. Obviously he was never Freddie Mercury, but in a Keith Richards sort of way he has an attitude and conviction in his voice that people love and more than makes up for any lack of range. People love when he sings and it clearly worked during the Kiss years with Shock Me, NY Groove and many others. Ace’s voice is strong and out front throughout. Really impressed how well he’s belting it out. And his playing is maybe better than it’s been in a very long time. My only complaint being that some songs fade on solos that I wish would stay up another 30 seconds or so. Always hated when my favorite albums and players have songs that fade while there is tasty guitar stuff happening. But everything has to end at some point I guess. As for the songs the best of them are the title track, the lead single “Gimme A Feelin” (best shot at real airplay as a single to me), “I Wanna Hold You” (another possible single), “Immortal Pleasures” (different vibe, great vocal and Ace singing about the good times.), “What Every Girl Wants” (another possible single), and “Past The Milky Way” (a classic space vibe that reminds me of something from the ’78 album, great solos, fades too soon though. Would love it to just keep going!). The space theme continues with the album closer, an instrumental titled “Starship” that does give a nod to Fractured Mirror and clocks in at around 8 minutes. Again some of Ace’s best soloing and guitar sounds in a very long time. The guy that influenced so many closing out with a sonic blend of guitars on top of guitars! The final thing heard is Ace asking if “anyone has seen George Jetson”, followed by his classic cackle! Again, classic Ace! The Steve Miller cover of “The Joker” is fine but I would have liked to see him make it more his own. The tracks I didn’t mention are far from throw aways, but material wise I like the above tracks best. It really is a fine album that is best served listened to as a complete experience. And here is what’s really great about it. It truly has the classic Kiss vibe running through it naturally. While that band continues to try and make records that sound like classic Kiss by making two fine musicians in Tommy and Eric play like the people they have to portray, Ace IS classic Kiss. It’s the genuine artifact! The album drips with the spirit of classic Kiss and classic Ace from top to bottom naturally. It is all Ace knows. And if you are a fan that’s a damn good thing! Regardless of the attempts at times from the current Kiss to diminish his contributions, when you listen to Space Invader it becomes incredibly obvious just how much Ace meant to Kiss in his sound, playing and attitude. And this album proves he still has it in spades, or Ace’s… As Gene Simmons said himself during his R&R Hall Of Fame speech, Ace has often been imitated but never duplicated. Now there’s something I can truly say I agree with from Gene! Again, if you are/were a Kiss/Ace fan, nothing not to love here. Clearly Ace’s years of sobriety have reinvigorated him to create an album far better than anyone might have expected at this point in his career. And Space Invader is sonic proof just how vital he truly was (as was Peter) to the sound and concept of Kiss. Welcome back to the one and only Space Ace!
PS: There is a deluxe version of the album with two bonus tracks. But those tracks are only radio edits of two songs on the album. So unless you are super hardcore or want the digipak and poster the regular version has essentially the same material.
Well said Sal A!
Yes, the mix of the album is “different”. Kinda reminds me of “Hotter Than Hell” the first time I heard it….on lp back in 74! It is a bit dark and muddy at times, but it does grow on ya! Love to see Ace do an album with Rick Rubin…my favorite rock producer.
Ed, that is a great review, I’ve been able to listen to it quite a bit more, again, love the choruses, Ace: he may not sing like an expert be he does possess a strong sense of how melody is supposed to work. Back to your review: you hit all the key points, and something I notice about your writing is you make it look easy, but you are really conveying alot of information. So, perhaps everyone underestimated Ace, even us fans? I didn’t expect such a fresh set of tunes, augmented by those guitar tones that only Ace can get, he really pushed himself this time. “Into the Vortex” and the title track might be my favorites.
I LOVE THE ALBUM!! ….ACE ROCKS!! ….GREAT JOB BUDDY!! ….WHEN YOU MAKE MUSIC….YOU MAKE THE FANS HAPPY! …..THANK YOU! ….IT’S AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU!! ….NEVER STOP ROCKIN’
I totally disagree with Eddie Trunk: Space Invader IS A MASTERPIECE. The best Ace Frehley’s ever. This album contains gems of songwriting, great licks, great solo’s and GREAT VOCALS. I consider Space Invader more complete, more mature and fresh than Ace’s 78 solo record. Absolutely surprising to me is consider how Ace is getting better and better with his vocals and the solid structure of his songwriting. Ace is reborn, welcome back, my hero.