REVIEW: Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)

LOOK!  It’s Rock and Roll!  I’m gonna review all of Ace Frehley’s solo albums.  Welcome to the series!  For Ace’s 1978 solo album, click here!  This review goes out to MARKO FOX!  Thanks for inspiring this idea. And happy birthday to ANTON FIG!

 

“Rock Soldiers come, and Rock Soldiers go.  Some hear the drum, and some never know.  Hey, Rock Soliders, how do we know?  ACE is back and he told you so!”

ACE FREHLEY – Frehley’s Comet (1987 Megaforce Worldwide)

It’s very daunting for me to review this.  My sister bought this album for me, for my birthday, in July 1987.  I had been a Kiss fan for a few years, and immediately liked Ace best.  Yet he’d been quiet for so long.  I didn’t even know what he looked like.  Then, the powerful video for “Into the Night” premiered on Much, and I knew right away.  I absolutely needed the album.

Frehley’s Comet is the debut release by Ace Frehley’s new band.  He had quite a band, too.  Singer / guitarist / keyboardist Tod Howarth had a really powerful, commercial voice and added keyboards to the mix, which was an edge in the late 80’s.  Meanwhile, on drums, was Anton Fig.  Veteran of at least three Kiss releases (Ace’s 1978 solo album, Dynasty, and Unmasked), there’s a reason David Letterman refers to Anton as “Buddy Rich Jr.”  Having Anton in the band was a serious coup.  On bass was John Regan, who proved to be a the only member to stick around for all of the 80’s.

“Rock Soldiers” was a great opening track.  Ace is back and he told you so?  Yeah!  This stomping anthem is the tale of Ace’s own carnage.  “And the devil sat in the passenger’s side of DeLorean’s automobile.”  And later, “When I think of how my life was spared from that near-fatal wreck, if the Devil wants to play his card game now, he’s gonna play without an ACE in his deck!”  How could Me 1987 not have loved this song?  It had a killer singalong chorus and was released as a single.

“Breakout” is interesting because the riff was written by Eric Carr, Ace’s old Kiss bandmate.  “Breakout” is in fact “Carr Jam ’81”, the song written at the time of The Elder.  Kiss never used it, so Ace did.  Tod sings lead on this one, and Anton plays his own drum solo where Eric once did.  Ace then turns in a friggin’ classic Frehley solo.

“Into the Night” is a Russ Ballard song, which surprised me, as I always felt that the lyrics fit Ace’s New York background like a glove.  It’s a mid-tempo rocker, and as first single, it was the first song that I heard.  Today, it still sounds dramatic and cool.

“Something Moved” is another heavy rocker, written and sung by Tod.  It’s similar in vibe to “Breakout”, and I really like when it goes into what I call the “Stryper riff” at the 2 minute mark, right after Ace’s solo.  Side one ended with “We Got Your Rock”, a sleezy one about groupie with a backstage pass.  To be honest, this one disappointed me back then.  I still find the lyrics to be pretty bad.  Ace co-wrote this one, hopefully not the lyrics, because the music’s decent enough.  If it were a Kiss song, it would be one of those Gene Simmons monster tunes.

Thankfully, side two starts on a better note.  “Love Me Right” is an Ace song, with a hard, solid riff and beat.  Yet it’s Tod’s “Calling To You” that is the gem of the album.  It’s a nice hard rocking commercial song with a scorching lead vocal.  The chorus is killer, and I couldn’t understand why this wasn’t the biggest hit of 1987 back then.   Sounds like a dual guitar solo too, with Tod taking the first solo and Ace finishing ‘er off.

The weirdest song is, without a doubt, “Dolls”.  Ace wrote this one completely by himself, words and music, and I have no idea what the hell he’s singing about.  I don’t think I want to know.  Anyway, musically it’s a bright pop rock number, based on the keyboards.  “Stranger In A Strange Land” is back in riff rock territory.  The chorus sounds great, with Tod and Ace singing together.

The album closes with “Fractured Too”, an instrumental sequel to “Fractured Mirror” from Ace Frehley.  It’s not quite as good as the first “Fractured”, but it has stood the test of time.  It’s this kind of music that Ace doesn’t always get recognized for, but his layers of shimmering guitars are very cool.

I wish the lyrics on Frehley’s Comet were better.  At least the music smokes!

4/5 stars

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25 comments

      1. I will! I don’t have much Ace at all so this will be an enlightening series. I’m always on the lookout for Second Sighting and Trouble Walking on vinyl but I never see them.
        Only got this, the Live+ thing and a compilation. 12 Picks? And the KISS one obviously.

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        1. Live +1 is next! Great EP!

          12 Picks and Loaded Deck are two of his three worthwhile compilations. The only one not worthwhile (which I don’t own and will not review) is Greatest Hits Live, which is all previously released!

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  1. When I first heard this album I was a bit put off by the 2 singers. I was hoping Ace would sing everything. I can see why they used Tod and I like his voice now but I was initially disappointed that it wasn’t all Ace vocals.

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  2. I remember how much I looked forward to this album. Ace had a thing for Sweden and he was in our music magazines quite a lot, giving interviews and studio reports years before this album was released. We were given song titles and names of band members, so when this album came out,it felt like I knew this album inside out without even hearing it.
    But when it came out, half of the song titles that Ace had promised us were changed and I must admit, I was a bit disappointed. I still think it’s quite uneven. Stuff like Something Moved, Dolls and We Got Your Rock just don’t cut it. But the weakest link on this album is Tod Howarth, though. His voice is thin and he sounds whiny all through. Calling To You is a killer, but Tod makes it a shrug. He really should have kept Richie Scarlet – now that guy can sing.
    I would probably give this a 7/10, because the good song on here are really damn good. But I’m curious of what they were thinking when they released Second Sighting. I’m still trying to find one good song on that album.

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    1. Jon, not only will I explain what they were thinking (from an old Hit Parader magazine article), but my review may shock you.

      I don’t want to get ahead of myself so stay tuned.

      I think many of those songs like Give it to Me Anyway, and Back on the Streets ended up on compilations. Good tunes for sure!

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      1. Yes, Back On The Streets was written by Vinnie Vincent and ended up on his debut Invasion album and on John Norum’s album Total Control. Even Kiss recorded it for Creatures Of The Night. There were also songs like Audio Video (Got You Where I Want) and Back Into My Arms. I have a tape with lots of great songs that easily could have improved this album. But I think Ace thought they were too poppy or commercial and that’s why he never released them. He could have made Second Sighting a killer just by using those demos…

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        1. How did Norum end up with that song anyway?

          I have seen many of these song titles on bootlegs, but never heard them. One can hope that the rest of the titles may see official release…

          But speaking of too pop…”Dolls” still made the album!?!? Weird.

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        2. Well, the guy who sings on three tracks on Total Control, Göran Edman (he also sang on Yngwie’s Eclipse and Fire & Ice), was once close to get the singer spot in Vinnie Vincent Invasion and he used the VVI demo when he auditioned for Norum and one of the songs on hat demo was Back On The Streets.

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  3. Your enthusiasm is infectious, well done sir! Ashamed to admit I haven’t heard a note of this, or any of the solo albums… or most of the KISS except the hits… I know, I know, I’ll get out now since I can’t contribute… but I am gonna lurk – I’m having fun reading along as you afficiandos talk about this stuff!

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  4. Bought this album pretty much the day it came out just from the fact that due to the press putting forward the hype factor and the fact that to me Frehleys 78 solo album was probably one of the best Kiss albums (in my book) I was looking forward to this release….
    I recall upon the first time listening it was good with some solid tracks but Dolls???
    But to this day Nuthin comes close to the 78 solo album…
    At the time it was good to see Ace back cuz as a Kiss fan thru the 80s they kept turning out product every yr pretty much so for Ace to pull his shit together ..good for him!
    Good solid band he put together for that debut and Howarth did well…..until…..

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    1. Dolls! What the hell is up with that song Deke?

      I had heard rumours for years that Ace was coming back with a band called the Comet…but year after year it seemed nothing ever materialized. I could hardly believe it when the album finally came out!

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  5. As a Kiss fan from the age of 10 in 1976 (I think by law I was required to love them) I remained obsessed with them through Dynasty when I started branching out into other artists & genres, although I stayed remotely interested in Kiss until the makeup came off. I never really checked out any solo material other than those original four 1978 releases, and by the time of Frehley’s Comet I had no interest in this style of music. I’ve since gone back to this era & enjoyed some things, but until this post I never heard any of Ace’s output. I think I would need to find this really cheap, like a $1 vinyl copy, to check it out, but I did really enjoy “Rock Soldiers.” Thanks for including that video in your post.

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    1. The good news Rich is that these albums CAN be found for $1…so keep your eyes peeled. (Like you needed more albums!)

      I hope you keep up on this series. There’s some cool things Ace did that I hope you will enjoy!

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