REVIEW: Ace Frehley – Spaceman (2018)

ACE FREHLEY – Spaceman (2018 eOne)

Ace is back and he told you so!…with a new band.  It’s true.  One of the of the players on Ace’s new disc Spaceman (Scot Coogan) was in his band…until last week.  And that’s all we’re gonna say about that.  Anton Fig and Matt Starr of Mr. Big also handle drum chores.  Ace steps up with new songs, stacks of guitars, and bass too!

Perhaps the showcase moment of the new album is the first Simmons/Frehley co-write in forever, a stomper called “Without You I’m Nothing”.  Almost immediately, without even knowing the details, there is something “Simmons sounding” about it.  Probably because he’s also on bass.  There is something primitively unique about a Gene Simmons bass line.  Ace’s guitar solo, the first of the album, is pure wicked electricity, though he struggles a bit vocally.  It’s a solid opening though, followed by the old-styled “Rockin’ With the Boys”.  It sounds like something written for 1987’s Frehley’s Comet.  It’s all about the chorus.  Then Simmons is back with another co-write (no bass though) on “Your Wish is My Command”.  Ace’s guitars have a crunchy chime, and the focus is catchy melody.

Spaceman was preceded by an excellent EP, Bronx Boy with a brilliant title track.  “Bronx Boy” is back.  That’s Scot Coogan on drums and backing vocals…no wonder he’s pissed about being fired!  Make way for the crunchy stomp “Pursuit of Rock-N-Roll”!  You don’t have to read the credits to know that it’s Anton Fig playing that tricky rhythm.  His unique playing plus Ace’s crunch make this another album highlight (and a song that Ace wrote solo).  That’s followed by a song he didn’t write:  Eddie Money’s “I Wanna Go Back”!  When Ace covers a song, he tends to go for poppier things than you’re used to hearing from him.  Think “Do Ya” from Trouble Walkin’.  This one has the potential to be as fondly regarded.

“Mission to Mars” rocks.  It’s a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am rocket ride to the red planet.  Another potential album highlight.  “Off My Back” (Anton Fig on drums) is really strong as well.

Finally (technically) the next in the instrumental “Fractured” series:  “Quantum Flux”.  Technically, because the word “Fractured” isn’t in the title, but it could be considered a spinoff of “Fractured Quantum” from Anomaly.  It’s heavier than the usual, so “Fractured” doesn’t quite suit it.  The acoustic guitars are only a small part of this wide-ranging instrumental.  Songs like “Quantum Flux” are levels above the rest musically.  It’s a tour-de-force.  Ace Frehley is an instrumental genius.  Yeah, we said it!

For Ace Frehley in 2018, Spaceman is a delight.  It is a true fact that the human voice changes as we age, and Ace’s is lower and less dynamic.  Instrumentally he’s never been better, and as a songwriter, he’s done well.

4.25/5 stars

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48 comments

  1. That front cover is BAD! I wasn’t that impressed with the singles either. Nothing he’s done since Trouble Walkin’ has really moved me, and the only slam dunk win I think he ever did was his first solo album while still in Kiss. He’s never come anywhere close to matching it since on his own, in my useless opinion.

    I was listening to “The Elder” on vinyl the other day. His solo on “Dark Light” is stellar. You can tell that he’s not too committed to the fantasy lyrics though. Elder’s a surprisingly strong album, particularly the Simmons songs (Only You, A World Without Heroes, Mr. Blackwell).

    As long as I’m being controversial I guess I’ll say that I was listening to Killers by Iron Maiden before Elder. I’d take Paul’s two albums over Bruce’s any day. They just never had the same visceral energy and passion as they did on the first two, with them only coming close on The Number of the Beast. Part of it is because Nicko is a boring drummer. Clive Burr totally mops the floor with him. Maybe not technically, but he just propels a song while Nicko is just along for the ride, playing the same beat since Powerslave. I’ve disgraced myself enough for today now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Check out the cover to the orange vinyl limited edition, man! This was only available at several indi stores in the US.

      Man I don’t think anyone will convince me on Killers. The first album, yes, I love it so much. The second, I just do not!

      Bruce did say Clive was the best drummer Maiden ever had.

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      1. I’m not sure how to go about making you a Killers believer. I love every song on that LP, and the bonus track Twilight Zone on the U.S. version (which I have on CD, I’ve got the UK LP). I don’t know if I’ve said this here before, but it’s bollocks that Steve Harris is denying the punk influence on the first two records and that he hates punk. If he hated punk so much why did he get Paul Di’Anno, a self-described punk singer? Killers is probably the least operatic/epic in their whole discography, lyrically and musically. “My life is so empty, nothing to live for.
        My mind is all confusion, ’cause I defied the law. When you weren’t there to help me, I lost my mind and ran. I never had no trouble before this all began,” is a long way away from “In a TIME where dinosaurs walked the earth!” Killers is a face down in the gutter album (no XYZ reference intended). It’s almost got more of a U.S. feel to it, all the inner city violence and songs about being cast out like “Drifter”. Maybe that’s why I could never related to their later stuff, it was SO British.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Although it’s nigh impossible for me to rank Iron Maiden albums Killers was an early favourite and stayed that way for a long time.

          Some of my other favourites/top five are-
          Book of Souls
          Somewhere in Time
          Virtual XI
          Seventh Son

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Ah see, there is a US/Canadian cultural difference here. We’re just colonials. The Queen is still the official head of state. At least when I was growing up, the Bristish-ness of Bruce era Maiden was a major factor in my dad accepting Iron Maiden. They had a song about the Charge of the Light Brigade! Another about the Battle of Britain! That WWII-era British content was like icing for my dad. I could go and eat the cake! He told me he liked Aces High!

          “In a TIME where dinosaurs walked the earth!” OK you made me laugh there. Not one of the finer lyrics.

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        3. I would take exception to the “..we’re just colonials..” but that is way too political for a music blog.

          I never let government or archaic monarchy control what I listened to.

          Parents have hated what kids have been listening to since rock n roll began. My daughter listens to pop music and I hate it. It’s just what we parents do.
          I hate the auto tune and the lack of musicianship and talent.
          I however would never, ever ban her from listening to something.
          Teens will rebel and do it anyway. Probably more so if I don’t like it.

          Did your dad actually ban you ftom listening to something?
          Did you want his approval in your music?
          Just curious, as I never felt that urge growing up.

          Liked by 1 person

        4. My parents never ever banned anything, which I am always grateful for. They could have. Other kids had that happen.

          But I would have liked their approval. I think with my dad, I got him with Maiden. He loved Aces High, the Trooper, all that stuff. Anything related to history really.

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        5. That’s definitely a difference, us Americans aren’t really that into British culture. We kind of told those guys to stick it, because we’re America damn it. I always liked Judas Priest way more than Iron Maiden, except the first two records with Di’Anno which I love about as much. “Sad Wings of Destiny” is one of the best of all time, and really Priest never came across as very British.

          Liked by 1 person

        6. Also, Firepower was way better than I had any right to expect it would be. I hadn’t really liked anything Priest had done since Painkiller, and unlike most people I didn’t think Painkiller was a masterpiece. It had some great tunes, but it mostly amounted to a heavier version of the shitty Ram It Down. I did like Turbo and every record they did before that to varying degrees of sorta good to absolutely classic. Point of Entry is one of their weakest but still underrated if only because Dave Holland drums his ass off on that album. He got stuck playing simple shit after that, but POE he really got to shine and let the songs breathe. Just listen to his fills on “Desert Plains”, that guy got it. Firepower is way more lively than anything that Maiden has done since Clive left. I don’t know about better, but it certainly sounds more lively. Really, I just don’t like Nicko at all mostly, because NOTB was really good too, so it’s not a Bruce Bruce thing. Doesn’t help that Nicko is a jackass that attacks security guards at concerts just because they don’t recognize him. Celebrity dick, and a boring unimaginative drummer. All my opinion of course. I recognize that Maiden did great albums with Nicko, but I just can’t get into them in the same way even if I do enjoy them.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. Is Nicko still a jackass though? I knew he was crazy, a “double Gemini” as he says. But is he still a dweeb?

          Agreed on the Priest stuff though I find Dave Holland soooooo boring.

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        8. I was replying more to Mike about the culrural difference between our two unique perspectives. If you hate the monarchy, good for you. Not trying to question your intelligence.

          Liked by 1 person

        9. I do not feel you questioned my intelligence. I just wanted to set the record straight that Canada is a sovereign nation and not under British command.
          I do not hate British monarchy, I do not hate Britain or the British people.
          The Brits I know (including the ones here on WordPress) are great.
          Sorry to you and Mike for jumping in where I wasn’t needed.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I might get this for Anton Fig and Gene.

    At first I almost turned off Rockin’ With The Boys mostly due to the vocals but the sweet guitar and the shout back chorus made it grow on me. It almost has a 70’s Kiss meets mid 80’s Motley Crue feel. It grew on me which I suspect this album would too.

    Ace may be a prick, but he can still lay down a lick.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Slick write up Mikey!
    Thats awesome that you are pumped on this album.
    Is it better than his last couple? I did buy that ummm what was it called “Anomaly?’ Nothing jumped out at me so I just kinda avoided what he has done since than…
    Good Job man!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m glad you’re digging this one, Mike. Probably not the kinda album that’s gonna make me a believer in Ace and Kiss and all that jazz, but I kinda like the song there. That said, I’d likely buy the orange vinyl just cause I dig the cover!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review Mike! We both liked it almost the same. I finally wrote and posted my review so now I can read yours. Funny how we both mention “Do Ya” when talking about the cover song. I really struggled with the 2nd Gene song and Off My Back. Outside of that, i thought it was awesome. Nice to see he still has it (guitar playing that is, singing…still Ace).

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I am sure it will make it, but it sucks when you want something and it takes forever to get there. That happened to me recently with the Matt Nathanson album. It didn’t arrive on the release date and was 8 days late. Sucked.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Killer write-up, Mike.
    I have to agree with you on just about everything you wrote – yeah, I really dig this album as well. But I also thought Space Invader (and the Origins cover album) was great too. That said, I think his Fractured/Quantum instrumentals are getting a bit old now. It’s not bad but to me it sounds like Ace on repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose you’re right about Fractured, but I would like to see Ace do an entire album of instrumentals. His instrumental songs are so much more complex…I’d like to see him give it a try. Maybe do half best of/half new instrumentals?

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