Album Reviews

Ace Frehley – Space Invaders Review

acefrehley_cover

Released by: eOne Music

Release Date: Out Now!!!

Genre: Classic Rock

Links: https://www.facebook.com/officialacefrehley

 

Tracklist:

01. Space Invader
02. Gimme a Feelin’
03. I Wanna Hold You
04. Change
05. Toys
06. Immortal Pleasures
07. Inside the Vortex
08. Past the Milky Way
09. Reckless
10. The Joker
11. The Starship

 

Ace Frehley is a man that requires no introduction. You either know him or you don’t, you either love him or you don’t. There’s very little middle ground with him. Those that love him can be quite fanatical with their love (I probably fall into this category though I don’t blindly love and support everything he has done.) Those that hate him fall into two particular groups: those that legitimately don’t like his music and those that so completely drink the hateful Kool Aid that Gene and Paul continue to feed their willing followers. Has Ace made mistakes in his life? Damn straight (we all have.) The thing is Gene and Paul continues to bash him despite being sober for close to a decade now. The only thing Frehley is probably guilty of is being lazy about putting out new music and touring more. Of course in my mind, if this is something he does to remain sober, then so be it. I’d rather him be healthy and alive without another stitch of music than have his demons drag him back into that pit of addiction even if he releases kick ass music.

I was lucky to catch him on tour back in 2007 and I said then it was the most fun I had had at a show in 20+ years. It still remains that many shows later by other bands (including a couple KISS shows.) He also released the albumAnomaly which wasn’t a blockbuster in sales, but to me was a great album. Did it set me on fire like some of his past releases? Certainly not. I did enjoy the hell out of it though. It was a bit more mature song wise, but he sounded great on it. Now it’s 2014 and Ace is back again this time taking us back in time somewhat with Space Invaders. He remains one of the few musicians who I get a giddy excitement about when I know new music is about to be released, so it’s tough for me to listen to this new album without being slightly biased on the first listen. To be honest, my first listen of the full album was disappointing. I wanted to love it so much immediately, but I simply couldn’t. Ace has never been known for writing deep and meaningful lyrics (“Torpedo Girl” and “Dolls” pop into mind immediately, though I still like those songs.) But on my first spin of Space Invaders the lyrics really jumped out at me as stupid and juvenile. And for me that really took away from my initial joy of the songs. On that first listen I heard little bits and pieces of the music that really caught my ear, but I was just so disappointed by it I just didn’t know what to do.

I stepped away from it for a couple of days, and as soon as I gave it another chance I started to understand it better. The lyrics still aren’t amazing, but they don’t need to be. It’s Ace Frehley; his albums are about his guitar playing. And that is where this album is pure Ace gold. No, he doesn’t break new ground here, but it is straight ahead everything the fans have ever loved about his playing: it’s raw, in your face, and has his signature tricks. Unlike Anomaly, this album is a total throwback, mixing together parts of the 78 solo album, his first Comet album, and Trouble Walking. My only complaint (other than the lyrics) that held over from my initial listen is that I wish there was a Tod Howarth acting as a foil for him (if not Howarth himself.) Some people took issue with Tod’s pop sensibilities during his tenure with Frehley’s Comet, but to me he was the perfect accent for Ace. Ace brought the straight rockers while Tod brought melody and a different take on the classic Ace sound. I love Ace’s vocals, but as with Trouble Walking and Anomaly I missed having some diversity in there.

Even with that as a complaint, after multiple listens I came to appreciate the album more and more. Just like with his previous solo release, I enjoy Space Invaders much more than the last two KISS albums. They both seem more genuine to the artist whereas Sonic Boom and Monster are half assed caricatures of what KISS used to be. This album will definitely divide the fan base. I have already seen it happen with the release of the first single “Gimme A Feeling.” Those fans that desire something as amazing as his 78 solo album will be disappointed. Space Invaderswon’t be an instant love for some folks. I do think that in time it will be looked at fondly by those that hate it instantly. I certainly don’t hate it, but I also didn’t instantly love it. Now that I’ve had a good 5-6 spins of it I hear more and more that I enjoy and less that detracts for me. Harder critics may require more listens or may never get to a point of enjoyment. I admit being an easy mark for Frehley and his material. Something about it, whether it’s instantaneous or over time, connects with me as a music fan. I’d wager a lot of it has to do with his signature guitar sound and vocals that take me back to my youth. Without a doubt Ace is the first guitarist I ever heard that made me want to pick the instrument up so he will always hold a special place in my heart. Having said that, some may feel my rating will be too generous with my love of him, but I’m giving Space Invaders 7 out of 10. If the lyrics didn’t rub me so much I’d go higher. I implore you though; give it more than a couple listens before writing it off. If you still hate it then, that’s ok, but you may end up liking it way more than the first time. That’s how it worked for me.

 

Written by Chris Martin

Ratings    Chris    7/10

 

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