REVIEW: Spacewalk – A Salute to Ace Frehley (1996)

Part 5 in a series on Ace Frehley!  Missed the last part, Trouble Walkin’?  Click here!

Spacewalk – A Salute to Ace Frehley (1996 DeRock/Triage)

Just in time for the massive Kiss reunion tour came this tribute CD.  There were several versions of this.  I have the second-coolest of the three:

  • Least cool:  Regular domestic 10 track CD.
  • Second coolest:  Import CD (Europe?) with brand new bonus track by Ace Frehley himself, called “Take Me To the City”
  • Most cool:  Japanese import CD with that and Sebastian Bach’s “Save Your Love”

This is one of those tributes made up of a mish-mash of metal musicians, no real “bands” so to speak, although all are great musicians.  Scott Travis plays drums on most of it (lending an awkward Priest-like vibe to the drums), Charlie Benate plays with Scott Ian on “Rip It Out”, and Vinnie Paul of course plays with Dimebag Darrel on “Fractured Mirror”.  (This site has all the information and credits for the CD.  Enjoy!  You’ll notice the backing band is basically Racer X on most tracks.)

I’m good with every track on here except one:  Bruce Bouillet’s version of “New York Groove”.  I’m not into drum loops in general, and although the track has a funky groove to it, it’s just not my bag.  On the other hand, Scott Ian’s cover of “Rip It Out” is Anthrax-worthy.  Frankie Bello’s on bass, and somebody named Zach Throne sings it with Scott.  Zach nails an authentic Ace-like vocal, while Charlie’s relentless on the drums.  The Anton Fig drum solo is almost exact note-for-note.  As is the signature guitar solo.

Gilby Clarke’s “Shock Me” is one of the better tracks. I don’t usually think of Gilby as a soloist, since in GN’R he didn’t solo.  His soloing style is unlike Ace’s, but he performs an original solo of his own that is appropriate to song.  On the other hand I wouldn’t count “Deuce” by Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) as a favourite.  The vocal (by somebody called Tom Gattis) is a tad overwrought.   Another “blah” tune is “Snowblind”, performed in a too-modern metally sound by Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys) and Snake Sabo from Skid Row.

Ron Young (Little Caesar, the Four Horsemen) has a soulful but southern sound on “Hard Luck Woman”, an odd choice for a Frehley tribute.  Written by Paul and sung by Peter, the original was created for Rod Stewart to sing!  But it’s as good a cover as any, and I don’t have a lot of other stuff of Ron’s, so I’m cool with this.  Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) is on guitar.

We all knew Sebastian Bach would knock it out of the park on “Rock Bottom”, and he does.  “Rock Bottom” wasn’t written by Ace, but he did write the intro, performed here by Russ Parish of Fight/Steel Panther.  Baz is obviously a huge Kiss fan and the song is in great hands, although the solo’s way too modern.  Still, I wish I had “Save Your Love” too.

IMG_00000627Tracii Guns is passable on “Parasite”, but again I think the song is done in a style too contemporary.  Up next is John Norum of Europe, with “Cold Gin”!  (Hey, two songs in a row written by Ace!)  McMaster is back on lead vocals, not my fave singer in the world.  John is a great guitarist, and this version of “Cold Gin” is heavy with fills.  Some go with the song, some miss the mark.

Dime’s “Fractured Mirror” is perfect, even the production and sound of the acoustic guitar is eerily similar to Ace’s original.  Dime may well have been the biggest Ace Frehley fan in the world. Darrell does throw some of his own personality into the song, but I think foremost on his mind was probably playing the song the way he remembered it.  And he does.

Lastly, “Take Me To the City” is performed by Ace himself, with his crack band:  Steve Werner on drums, Karl Cochran on bass, Richie Scarlet on guitar and backing vocals, and…Sebastian Bach is there too at the end!  This Ace rarity is the best of all reasons to track down this CD.  This is Ace back to a hard rocking Frehley’s Comet sound, with an anthemic chorus.  When Baz shows up at the end, it’s icing on the cake (although you need to turn it ^UP^ to catch him in the fade).

I don’t really buy tribute albums anymore, because I find these mish-mashes of somewhat related artists to be a bit tedious.  Still, it’s pretty solid, and definitely worthwhile to fans of bands like Pantera, Skid Row, or Anthrax.  The Ace bonus track is pretty much a compulsory purchase.

3/5 stars

Soon, we’ll also be talking about another quality tribute album with some surprising guests and alumni.  Stay tuned.

SPACEWALK_0003

40 comments

  1. Sounds like a fun CD. I’m not normally all that bothered about tribute albums but I like that they fit an Ace original on to this one! And it’s a great selection of songs… even if Hard Luck Woman is a bit of a bizarre choice!

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  2. And here’s me, the relative noob, reading about a tribute to songs I haven’t even heard in their original form. Sigh. I am so far behind. But it’s an excellent review, honest and clear. Being a KISS fan, it’d be easy for you to slap a 5 on it and say Woo! It’s all good! But you maintain the integrity and tell it like it is. It’s why we keep coming back to LeBrain. He’ll tell ya straight up.

    Was the Ace track ever released as a single, for those wanting to avoid the rest of the tribute?

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        1. Oh well, that explains it. Maxim is where I get ALL my life advice.

          As for the distinction, I believe there might indeed be a difference. For example, one might exhaust oneself of the desire to rub any more out, but still be too awake to sleep.

          Is this the first discussion on the minutiae of masturbation to grace the comments of mikeladano.com? I want to say no, but I don’t know for sure.

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  3. When you say “domestic release” does that apply only to Canada, or does it also include the US? I know back when both Mtv and Muchmusic were playing music videos you guys got some different ones than we did.
    And usually I liked yours better.

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    1. Hmmm. Good question. I am guessing that in this case the US and Canadian domestic versions are the same.

      I checked Amazon.com, the US site, and their version of Spacewalk lacks the Frehley track “Take Me to the City” just like ours does.

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  4. Most tribute albums are just dull, to say the least. But there’s a few out there who are really good. Bat Head Soup, an Ozzy tribute album, is really good, recommended if you don’t have it.
    This one’s also in the good category. I think almost every version is a really good cover, except the McMaster version of Snowblind. As you said, too modern sounding. But what I don’t get is Deuce, Hard Luck Woman and Rock Bottom. Sure, Ace played on the original versions, but this is an Ace Frehley tribute, not a Kiss one. And there are quite a few Ace-tunes to choose from. That actually annoys me and would take a few points off my rating, if I had one. And if you wanna hear a really good version of Hard Luck Woman, then try Danish hard rock band Pretty Maids one from their 1997 album Spooked. While we’re on the subject, Pretty Maids should be checked out by everyone – awesome band!
    Take Me To The City is a really good song, me thinks and I can’t imagine why it’s not on a real Frehley album.

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    1. Pretty Maids’ version is excellent. Thanks for pointing that out Jon!

      For me, I can sidestep Deuce and Rock Bottom. Deuce, because I know Ace has said this is his favourite Kiss song to play, and open with. Rock Bottom because he did at least do the intro.

      But otherwise it’s kind of baffling. Wait until you see the next one though…

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      1. I love the songs, but on an Ace tribute , there should only be Ace songs. I don’t take mildly to this kind of behaviour… ;-)
        Also, I’m beffled why he decides to play stuff like Deuce, Love Gun and Shout It Out Loud live. he has so many great songs of his own to play. More obscure stuff like Dark Light or Talk To Me or Save Your Love would be so awesome to hear live.

        Have you heard Pretty Maids latest album, Motherland? If not, do so immediatley. It’s brilliant! Read the truth here: ;-)

        http://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/hard-rock/hard-rock-reviews-2013/pretty-maids-motherland/

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  5. I Think Gilby Clarke is a very underrated dude – I was a big fan of Kill For Thrills ‘Dynamite in Nightmareland’; which also had Brent Muscat’s brother in (I think – I’m far too rooted in this chair to go and check, sorry, it’s Friday!)

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    1. Hey no problem my friend, I’m capable of using Google to find out.

      I have only ever seen one Kill For Thrills CD come into my store. That’s the only copy I’ve ever seen, actually. It was too hacked up to buy it, unfortunately. But I do love Pawnshop Guitars, that’s a 5/5 star album for me.

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  6. I bought the domestic release so I guess that makes me less cool!!
    Hahaha….to be honest with u,I was never into tribute records even though I bought a couple like Kiss MY Ass…Gin Blossoms pulled off a good Christine 16 I thought ,the Lennon Working Class Hero cuz of Cheap Trick on it,…..Working Man the tribute to Rush which was just a bunch of overplaying etc …this one is alright I guess I don’t know I would buy stuff sometimes just to buy stuff and it would get filed away which this one did ,just like the others into a box in a dark corner in the basement!!!
    Never to be played again…..

    But like I said earlier in one of the other reviews when I listen to Ace nowadays it’s back to his Kiss solo album which I consider to be in top 5 of all time Kiss releases…….
    The sound and Figs drums are what the 70s are about….Peter Criss must have shit a brick when he heard that middle part of Rip It Out with Figs drumming…..

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    1. Deke this is going to be one of those rare places we disagree, because I LOVE that Rush tribute album. I know what you mean about the overplaying, guys like George Lynch maybe a bit, but there are three tracks on that thing that I love. The Sebastian Bach, Eric Martin, and Devin Townsend tracks. One day I’ll have to revisit and review that album. I remember that Rush were not happy with it.

      Anton said recently that the drums were recorded in a stairwell of a big chateau. Kind of like Ian Paice on Machine Head.

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  7. I guess at the whole time it became the thing to do as lots of artists were doing tribute acts just like when everyone went unplugged crazy ……I admit the unplugged thing I dug like Tesla esp Tommy’s Down Home…..that Skeoch was a cool dude ….but after a while I burnt out on it..just rather buy artists original material…
    Senile old man I have become…
    Ha

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    1. Dude I love that Tesla one, that was long before the concept burned out. And year Tommy’s Down Home…

      “I’d like to cut the balls off a long-haired hippy,
      and tie them up to a tree.
      Don’t fuck with me.”

      Been listening to Tesla this week, and I’ve cooked up two reviews for you.

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        1. Awesome. I love it when a band from my youth still kicks ass. I know some people such as Neue Regel have a hard time believing that, just because I don’t like Tateryche or the new Quiet Riot, but I do really love it when “my” bands hang in there and stand the test of time.

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        2. Yeah, well, it’s really cool that Sweden Rock book all these old bands and the fact that almost all of them delivers the goods. I’ve seen fantastic gigs there by bands such as Tesla, Cinderella, Winger, Night Ranger, Stryper, Y&T, Europe, Treat and Rick Springfield. The only bands that left me disappointed were Poison, which were completely worthless and Slaughter, with an overweight Mark at front being all dull and boring. And Steelheart that almost only played new stuff that no one were interested in.

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        3. Not surprised at all to hear about Poison (with CC) and Slaughter. I have been bored with Slaughter since the third album.

          Stryper though, they are Europe have consistently impressed me with their new releases. I’m really happy both bands are back and prolifically releasing album.

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