REVIEW: Ace Frehley – 12 Picks (1997)

Part 7 in a series on Ace Frehley!  Missed the last one, Return of the Comet?  Click here!

ACE FREHLEY – 12 Picks (1997 Megaforce Worldwide)

With Ace experiencing a second Golden Age back in Kiss, 1997 was the perfect time for various parties to cash in with compilations and re-releases.  It made sense for Megaforce to put out a collection of Ace’s better solo work along with unreleased live tracks.  With Frehley’s Comet bassist John Regan in the executive producer’s seat, at least 12 Picks has input from somebody on the inside.

This is a pretty logical collection.  Since it has “Into the Night”, “Rock Soldiers”, “Words Are Not Enough”, and even “Hide Your Heart”, you could easily make an argument that casual fans can start and stop here.  Sure, they’d miss great favourites like “Calling To You” and “Do Ya”…but leaving tracks off opens doors to sequels, no?


If you imagine an album still having two sides, then the studio tracks make up side one.  Side two consists of live versions of Kiss favourites and others.  These are all from the Second Sighting tour with Jamie Oldaker on drums, unfortunately not Anton Fig for these versions.  They are however previously unreleased on any audio format.  These are some (but not all) of the songs from the Live + 4 VHS video cassette.  This video was never released in Canada, and I’ve never owned it.  Unfortunately, “Something Moved” from the VHS tape is not included.  To date it is still frustratingly unavailable.  From the same gig (Hammersmith Odeon) but unreleased until now is “Deuce”.  Other tracks from the concert would later trickle out elsewhere.

12PICKS_0005“Rip It Out” remains a stunning opener, although this version is hampered by the lack of Anton on drums.  Jamie Oldaker has a different feel, laying back behind the beat and I don’t think that’s the way these songs are best presented.  His fills are simpler than Anton’s, and things like the drums solos in “Rip It Out” and “Breakout” suffer for it.  The rest of the set is Kiss-heavy:  “Cold Gin”, “Shock Me”, “Rocket Ride” and the Simmons-penned “Deuce”.  Frehley performs “Cold Gin” with the right groove, which Kiss had trouble nailing without him.  I like the little touches, like the fact that the bassline doesn’t stray from the original much.  It lends these Ace versions a Kiss-like authenticity.  Tod Howarth backs up Ace’s lead vocals in a manner that recall’s Kiss’s multiple lead vocalists.

Although the setlist itself is pretty smokin’, the muddy drum sound and lack of Anton prevent the live portion from igniting.  Thankfully Ace has plenty of fuel when he solos, but this live side is noticeably inferior to the excellent Live + 1.  That’s too bad.

12 Picks came with a guitar pick in one of several (12?) colours.  I got black!

3/5 stars


  1. I thought this was a cool comp. I bought it hilariously cheap (I think about £1!) but it didn’t have a pick in it (sad face).

    I didn’t even realise there were so many unreleased tracks on this, that’s a bonus! I do have a couple of other Ace albums but this is a good one for when I’m in a solo Ace mood. And there’s not much Tod Howarth on this is there? So Jon Wilmenius will be happy about that!


    1. I hope Jon likes this one. Great price on yours! The follow up album also has a pick, as you will see.

      Those things never last in a used copy. I bet there are none available on Discogs with pick…


        1. Yeah I think so. He has more leads on the next one…

          I make sure I kept every guitar pick. I have Sabbath, Ace, AC/DC and Steve Vai albums with picks, all kept meticulously complete.


        2. Yeah, I’d never use a pick that came with an album or box set. That would just be a waste. Not sure I’ve had many albums come with them though… The Sabbath Past Lives is the only one I can think of off the top of my head.


  2. I never felt the urge to buy this CD. The only reason I bought Loaded Deck was because of the unreleased songs and there aren’t any on this one. The live tracks? Well, not interesting enough, I’m afraid. Plus, the fact that Ace later released Greatest Hits Live that saved my ass on that part, so with that one I have all the live cuts from Frehley’s Comet that I need.
    I still think it’s weird that Ace has so many really good unreleased tracks lying around. He really should release those. Many a Kiss fan would buy that CD in a heartbeat, I’m sure.


    1. I agree Jon, and I hope it happens. I’ll get into some of that in my closing thoughts. I’ll be wrapping up in a month or so.

      The same could be said of Kiss too. I’d like an official release of Sword and Stone, Feels Like Heaven, and some of those Elder demos in good quality.


  3. This looks like a cool disc! And HMO found it super cheap, which makes it hopeful for noobs like me.

    “…but leaving tracks off opens doors to sequels, no?” Well Dude, things like this usually make me go buy all the albums, not wait for another comp…

    I think that autographed Newsted EP was the first time I ever got a CD that had a pick in it. It’s a cool add-in. I do have a pick from BB King (given to me by the man himself) and a pick from the Hank Williams Museum (a friend got that for me). But That’s about it.

    After I get all the Sab studio records (I’m about halfway there), then I’ll look at live stuff. I’ll try to remember what you said but I’ll probably have to ask you guys again.


  4. Passed on this even with the Kiss remakes and such ,now if the Live + 1 would have been a full release ….sign me up !
    Just got tired of all these different spins on Hits records like how many Aerosmith compilations are needed? Kiss? I know u dudes salivate over some of these that’s cool but man for me I get bored..must be old age kickin in!!
    Give a good new studio release or live recording and I’m in!
    Just not my bag..but I do enjoy the review and comments!


        1. Nice. I doubt there are bonus tracks planned but you never know. I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

          I have a Rock Candy related Record Store Tale coming in a few weeks.


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