Ace Frehley Teaches a Master Class in Rock and Roll History
Michael Scapp, Contributing Writer, April 24th, 2016
Legendary guitarist Ace Frehley seems to be on a mission to prove to the world that his sobriety is for real. For the past decade he has even outpaced his former band KISS as far as album releases and all during the constant tour dates and promotion. Ace earlier this week had to be rushed to the hospital for symptoms of dehydration and exhaustion. As Ace always does, he bounces back and is again in good health. His latest album Origins Vol. 1 is being very well-received by fans and critics alike.
Despite the fact this former New Yorker has absolutely no new original music on his brand new release, it is still stirring up excitement with his fans. Ace exhibits his inspirational roots and of his guitar heroes on Origins. White Room by Cream was the leadoff single and while it can’t help but shine a light on Ace’s deteriorating vocal abilities, the guitar work and production builds excitement as much as he could 40 years ago when he soloed on the live version of Rock and Roll All Nite. Ace trades off vocals with Scott Coogan.
Speaking of special guests, there is a good amount here. John 5 from Marilyn Manson makes an appearance to trade guitar licks with Ace on Jimi Hendrix’s amazing Spanish Castle Magic. It seems that Slash is always up to the task of guest starring, he plays with Ace on the Thin Lizzy classic Emerald, showcasing some flashy dual soloing. Lita Ford lends her lead vocals to Wild Thing originally by The Troggs.
The real treat for KISS fans are the multiple KISS Konnections (sorry) scattered throughout the album, most notably former bandmate Paul Stanley singing lead on Free’s Fire and Water. I love that two of the KISS originals are reunited for four minutes here. Paul does a pretty decent job spinning Paul Rodgers’ original vocals to fit his own comfort level. Ace gives us three KISS covers, two were penned by the Space Man himself, Cold Gin and Parasite. On the original albums Ace has sidestepped the lead vocal duty giving them to Gene Simmons. Ace has been singing these songs on his tours over the years, and it feels awesome having studio recordings with Ace singing finally. The most exciting moment for me on this record is the 1982 KISS cover of Rock and Roll Hell found on the Creatures of the Night album. Ace had already left the band at that point although he somewhat kept up appearances here and there. Ace had no input of the Creatures album, and the fact that he covered a post-Ace/KISS song is very exciting, especially when it comes time for the solo. Rock and Roll Hell is my favorite cut from the Creatures album and it’s definitely a stand out here as well.
Origins Vol. 1 is an exciting record and even surpasses his last original album Space Invader from 2014. It won’t be long before those old KISS reunion rumors start making the rounds again. I was glad when Ace was let go in 2000, but I feel that sober Ace can actually inject some new life into the stale musty KISS brand.