Space Invader

REVIEW: Ace Frehley – Bronx Boy (2018 EP)

 

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 46: Ace Frehley solo

We’re doing this one out of order because it’s a brand new release.

ACE FREHLEY – Bronx Boy (2018 EOne EP)

Original  guitarist Ace Frehley has been more active in the studio than his former band of late.  In the last decade we’ve had some great Ace originals (Anomaly and Space Invader) and a much better than expected covers album (Origins Vol. 1).  This week, Ace finally announced the title of his next solo album:  Spaceman, due October 19.  Kiss hasn’t been interested in recording an album since 2012’s Monster.  At least Gene Simmons will be making a cameo on Spaceman.

Spaceman is preceded by the limited, numbered Bronx Boy EP.  This four track record spins one new song and three you may have missed.  “Bronx Boy” will be on the new album.  It’s a shorty (under 3:00) but it packs the signature Ace punch.  Killer riff, blazing solo, great chorus, and plenty of balls!  Lyrically it’s Ace revisiting his street punk persona from his youth.  “You better look out!”

Also on the A side, you will find an unreleased remix of “Reckless” from Space Invader.  It’s a little longer and more dynamic.  “Reckless” is a brilliant tune, probably better than “Bronx Boy” itself when it comes down to brass tacks.  It’s a little more unique, in that Ace way.  It is exclusive to this EP.

On the B-side are two of the best covers from Origins Vol. 1.  Cream’s “White Room” features drummer Scott Coogan helping out on backing vocals (singing that high part).  Really though, it is a showcase for the Ace’s incredible guitar work.  Thick, thick harmonies and plenty of wah-wah will make you drool in envy.  The old Kiss classic “Cold Gin” has Mike McCready from Pearl Jam on guest guitar.  Seems like just about everybody in Seattle was a Kiss fan at some point.*  Just as important though is having a studio version of “Cold Gin” with Ace singing — the guy who wrote it!

In the grand scheme of things, do you need to buy this?  To the practical fan, no.  The album will be out in October and most practical fans don’t care so much about rare versions or physical media.  What about the fans who do care about those things?  Do they need Bronx Boy?  The answer is fuck, yes!  Limited and numbered on grey marble vinyl, with an exclusive remix — these things matter.  It means the price will go up in the coming months.  Plus, you’ll just enjoy spinning it.  And there’s a free download card if you can’t spin the vinyl!

4/5 stars

For another great Bronx Boy review, check out 2loud2oldmusic!

* Nirvana covered “Do You Love Me”.  Alice In Chains have performed in Kiss makeup.  The Melvins had three Kiss-inspired solo albums.  Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) names Ace Frehley as one of his earliest inspirations to play guitar.

 

 

COMPLETE FREHLEY REVIEWS

ACE FREHLEY – 12 Picks (1997 Megaforce Worldwide)
ACE FREHLEY – ACE FREHLEY (KISS solo album) (1978 Casblanca)
ACE FREHLEY – Anomaly (2009 version)
ACE FREHLEY – Anomaly (2017 deluxe edition)
ACE FREHLEY – “Cherokee Boogie” (1996 Attic)
ACE FREHLEY – Frehley’s Comet (1987 Megaforce Worldwide)
FREHLEY’S COMET – Live + 1 (1988 Megaforce Worldwide)
ACE FREHLEY – Loaded Deck (1998 Megaforce Worldwide)
FREHLEY’S COMET – Milwaukee Live ’87 (radio broadcast CD)
ACE FREHLEY – Origins Vol. 1 (2016 eOne)
FREHLEY’S COMET – Second Sighting (1988 Megaforce Worldwide, 1998 reissue)
ACE FREHLEY – Space Invader (2014 E One/Victor Japan)
ACE FREHLEY – Trouble Walkin’ (1989 Megaforce Worldwide)
Return of the Comet – Tribute to ACE FREHLEY (1997 Shock Records)
Spacewalk – A Salute to ACE FREHLEY (1996 DeRock/Triage)

 

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#350 The Year in Review / Top Five of 2014 (and 2004)

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RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#350 The Year in Review / Top Five of 2014

Another year come and gone!  Am I older and wiser?  I think so, musically speaking anyway!  It was a great year for music (and a baffling year too, hello Scott Stapp and Phil Rudd)!  Narrowing down my favourites to a Top Five wasn’t all that difficult once I thought about it.  There were some clear contenders so it was more about sorting out the order.  I’ll save the Top Five(s) for last.

I lost two friends this year, both of whom went way too soon.  Both had moved out of town long ago (one out of the country), but we recently reconnected via social media.  Warren was the guy who helped get me started on this crazy journey of writing, being the first to publish me.  George, an old friend from childhood, helped me discover Kiss.  Both left this earth in 2014, and the world is sadder for it.  Rest in peace boys.

That aside, my proudest writing achievement was finally finishing the Record Store Tales.  I had so much fun sharing those stories over the years.  I took my time ending it; I was having a good time.  But I knew there were people who wouldn’t like it; that’s happened before.   Again I’ll apologize to the two who complained, for any offence I caused them.  These two guys were friends from the store, but neither had really expressed any support for what I was doing, and I don’t think they particularly liked it.  I never had anything bad to say about either of them, but I get that they might not like things I had to say about their friends; I totally get that.  I also get that they had different experiences at the Record Store than I did.  That’s fine.  I want to be clear that my experience was mine alone.  I cannot speak for anyone but myself.  (Interesting footnote though:  Back in Part 170, I mentioned that our accountant Jonathan used to talk about who he trusted at the store, and who he didn’t.  One of the people he never trusted was one of those two guys, because of his personal friendship with the higher-ups.  Just a footnote.)

Anyway, I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I did some rough calculations and by reckoning, the number of Record Store Tales that were negative towards the store was only about 16%.

So!  Onto the lists!  My Top Ten Favourite Record Store Tales of 2014:

Part 258: Uncle Meat
Part 264: Garbage Removal Machine
Part 265: A Nightmare on Cocknuckles Street Redux: Special Edition
Part 269: CD Singles (of every variety) featuring T-Rev
Part 270: Star Trek vs. Star Wars
Part 281: People of Walmart
Part 285: Chinese Democracy
Part 289: Tom’s Frozen Beater
Part 319: The Musical Crimes of LeBrain (by Mrs. LeBrain)
Part 320: End of the Line #2 (The Last Straw)

And my of course Top Five Abums of 2014:

5. FLYING COLORSSecond Nature
4. PINK FLOYDThe Endless River
3. HELIXBastard of the Blues
2. ACE FREHLEYSpace Invader
1. JUDAS PRIESTRedeemer of Souls

As an added bonus, I also found my Top Five Albums of 2004 among my journals!  For shits n’ giggles, here is a “bonus” installment of Record Store Tales for you!  And Happy New Year to ya!

BONUS RECORD STORE TALES Part 350:
Top Five of 2004

5. BRANT BJORKLocal Angel
4. PEARL JAMLive at Benaroya Hall: October 22, 2003
3. THE KILLERSHot Fuss
2. THE HIVES – Tyrannosaurus Hives
1. MARILLIONMarbles

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Stay tuned for more Top Lists of 2014 in the days ahead!

 

REVIEW: Ace Frehley – Space Invader (2014 Japanese release)

NEW RELEASE

ACE FREHLEY – Space Invader (2014 E One/Victor Japan)

Ace Frehley doesn’t exactly crank ’em out anymore, but the five year break between albums isn’t too bad by today’s standards.  Anomaly surfaced in 2009.  I think it could have delivered more than it did, but Space Invader is more immediate.

The title track “Space Invader” opens the album; a solid rocker with a strong chorus.  The guitar solos absolutely smoke.  Ace has lost nothing over the years, even his voice has barely changed.  His singing could be more melodic, but he has character.   This song takes me back to when I first heard Frehley’s Comet back in ’87.  Hearing Ace’s guitar front and center doing things I had forgotten he could do.  Awesome.

“Gimme a Feelin'” (hilariously labelled a “radio edit” even though it is also the album version) is plenty catchy enough, with a vintage Frehley vibe.  A song like this could have been on any Kiss album in the 70’s, although I find the production a bit…cluttered.  It fades abruptly, but “I Wanna Hold You” returns to that vintage Kiss vibe.  This time, it’s the pop side that albums like Dynasty explored, but with the heaviness that fans expect.  There’s nothing wimpy about “I Wanna Hold You” even though it could have come right from 1979-80.  Ace goes into a more ominous vibe for the strong “Change”.  Now it’s 1982 and it’s Creatures as if Ace was on it.  It really makes you wish for what might have been.  Then “Toys” feels like it’s aping the “She” riff, but in an obvious way.   It also shares characteristics with 1988’s “The Acorn in Spinning”.

SPACE INVADER_0002“Immortal Pleasures” is a change of pace, allowing Ace to play some acoustic guitar.  It’s a fairly simple song, and it took a bit to grow on me, as I didn’t like it at first.  “Inside the Vortex” is trademark Ace, and again I think what works is simplicity.  The riff is tricky, so Ace keeps it simple with the robotic vocal and it’s perfect.  This one might be an early runner for “personal favourite”.

A nice traditional rock riff is what I need next, and “What Every Girl Wants” hits the spot.  This one reminds me of…[gasp] Poison!  I don’t mean that in a bad way really.  It is true that Space Invader is not exactly innovative (“Inside the Vortex” notwithstanding), but it does deliver on rock and roll.  That’s all you can really expect from Ace Frehley, and that’s just fine.  “Past the Milky Way” has an appropriately spacey vibe, as Ace gets his acoustic out again.  The lyrics are cool:  “Now I’m runnin’ out of oxygen, but I’ve still got my guitar.”

Heading into the home stretch, “Reckless” stomps in a nondescript kind of way.  You may have heard Ace’s cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker”.  Some love it, some don’t.  I am undecided.  I can’t say that I needed to hear the song anymore.  The standard album closer is the 7-minute “Starship”, which sounds at first as if it could fit in Ace’s “Quantum” series.  Then it goes in a number of different directions, all cool.  It’s a long instrumental that holds interest, and is an album highlight.  Bravo Ace.

The Japanese version comes with three bonus tracks:  an extended (4:44) version of “Reckless”, the radio edit (3:18) of “Space Invader”, and the “explicit” version (4:05) of “Gimme a Feelin'”.  (The vinyl has a “different remix” (?) of “Reckless” and an extended version of “The Joker”.  At least, I think that’s true, there’s conflicting info out there.)

I love the Ken Kelly cover art, which fits the classic sound of Space Invader.  The album is not perfect but it’s a step up from Anomaly and a proud addition to the Frehley library.  Any fan of the Space Ace who craves those licks and stuttery solos will find much to love here.

4.5/5 stars

 

More ACE:
ACE FREHLEY – 12 Picks (1997 Megaforce Worldwide)
ACE FREHLEY – Anomaly (2009 Bronx Born)
ACE FREHLEY – “Cherokee Boogie” (1996 Attic)
ACE FREHLEY – Frehley’s Comet (1987 Megaforce Worldwide)
FREHLEY’S COMET – Live + 1 (1988 Megaforce Worldwide)
ACE FREHLEY – Loaded Deck (1998 Megaforce Worldwide)
FREHLEY’S COMET – Second Sighting (1988 Megaforce Worldwide, 1998 reissue)
ACE FREHLEY – Trouble Walkin’ (1989 Megaforce Worldwide)
Return of the Comet – Tribute to ACE FREHLEY (1997 Shock Records)
Spacewalk – A Salute to ACE FREHLEY (1996 DeRock/Triage)