Part 12 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster! This time, we’ll look at one of the four solo albums released under the Kiss banner in 1978: Ace Frehley.
KISS – Ace Frehley (1978)
The general consensus is that Ace Frehley’s solo album was the best solo album because it was the most rocking and Kiss-like. While I agree that it is a great achievement (and it sold the best, too) I prefer Paul’s. Hey, just a personal preference. Ace’s is still great.
Ace’s album was 9 tracks, which breaks down to 8 vocals and 1 instrumental. All but the instrumental were rockers. Anton Fig on drums! The standout songs include “Rip It Out” which would have made a great Kiss song. Here, it is a strong opener: a statement of intent, musically, from Ace. It boasts catchy verses and choruses with a blazing guitar solo. “Speedin’ Back To My Baby” and “What’s On Your Mind?” are a bit more pop and melodic but with Ace’s guitar they’re never too pop. They’re just rock enough. “Fractured Mirror” is the instrumental I menbtioned, and the first of a series of instrumental “Fractured” tracks for Ace. It’s great. It shows off some intricate fingering that Ace is capable of (think back to “Rock Bottom”) but less known for.
“New York Groove” was the hit single of course, but not a song I’m partial to. To me it sounded the like disco-Kiss that would emerge on Dynasty. I prefer the live versions that Kiss did later on, they had more thunder in the drums and more distortion in the guitars.
“Ozone” was a song that aurally sounds very “spaced” and you can guess what the subject matter is. Foo Fighters, incidentally, did a great cover of “Ozone” back in ’95. “Snow Blind” covers the same lyrical ground. Finally, “Wiped Out” spoofs “Wipeout” by its intro. It again seems to be about being, well, wiped out. It has some challenging time changes and crunchy chords.
By and large this is a great album. I think some of the songs could have used more hooks. I still enjoy listening to it, and it does stand up as probably the best Ace solo album to date. Ace’s guitar playing is heavily showcased, without it being a “guitar” album. Anyone who thinks Ace can’t play needs to listen to a song like “Wiped Out”. It’ll blow their minds.