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.