MVM’s new boy has a Kiss Army tattoo, so when it came to reviewing the new Ace Frehley record there was only one man to call
Former Kiss lead guitarist and notable “Space Ace” returns with a covers album that’s more predictable than eye opening.
First of all, let’s set the scene. I’m a huge Kiss fan. HUGE, and of the four simultaneously released solo albums in 1978, the best for me is none other than Ace Frehley’s effort. However, when it comes to cover versions, in my opinion they should be reserved for “b-sides” so as it goes, I’m not a fan of cover albums in general.
So when it came to reviewing Origins Vol. 1, I was a little apprehensive. The track listing alone gives a sense that Ace has certainly selected songs that influenced him growing up (Cream, Hendrix, Stones, Zeppelin) and tracks that he knew he would be comfortable with replicating. Added to those, a couple of self-penned Kiss tracks (Parasite and Cold Gin) swapping Gene Simmons vocals for his own, but at times sounding almost like an attempt at impersonating the Demon. Perhaps the highlight is his version of Rock N Roll Hell (originally recorded by Kiss on Creatures of the Night, an album that Ace had very little involvement with, and subsequently led to him quitting in 1982 ahead of the Creatures Tour), which surprisingly sounds like a decent attempt at showing his former bandmates what those songs “might have sounded like” had he been allowed more control in the studio.
Production wise, much of the album sounds a little thrown together in the studio, with one or two tracks almost having a feeling of not knowing when to end. That said, the album has some great moments – the guitar solo “duel” between Ace and former / current (you decide) Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash on the cover of Thin Lizzy’s Emerald. Paul Stanley also makes a guest vocal appearance on the cover of Free’s Fire and Water, a moment which shows a distinct difference in vocal abilities between the Rock Soldier and his Starchild former band mate.
Musically, the songs are played well, crunching guitars and drums delivered with purpose, but the album seems to lack something vocally, and emphasises Ace’s weakness in this department. In the past, Ace has tended to “speak” the words to his songs rather than sing, something that’s difficult when covering someone else’s work.
Overall it’s a decent effort, but nothing stands out as overly impressive and there are no surprises in the song selection.