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!