Ace Frehley's last album Anomaly was a pretty big turd so I gotta be honest I don't have high expectations for this latest release Space Invader. I love Ace but his post KISS live shows haven't lived up to what he was doing before he went back to KISS in 1996 and I'm of the opinion that without a real producer or label (not sure if latter exists anymore) he's unlikely to release a solid product. But my mind and ears are open and for now anyway, my skepticism is buried.
For this review I have decided to do it as I listened to it for the first time. Sort of a stream of consciousness type of deal. To do so meant not checking out any streaming samples that were available in advance of it's release. I must say I did hear the first minute or so of Gimme A Feelin! but that is all I have heard so far. It was hard to not slap this sucker in the CD player on the drive home from Best Buy but I managed to make it. Before I start listening lets get into the packaging.
Ace has a history of cheesy/cheap album covers. Much like his wardrobe. Sadly it was the highlight of his last record but for Space Invader it was a nice touch to bring in Ken Kelley to paint it. A nod to his KISS past. I like the cover but it's missing that level of detail Kelley gave the KISS albums Destroyer and Love Gun. But it's a long way from Second Sighting so we'll call this a win. Cover - B
|Can't wait to hang this poster in my locker!|
There's a sticker on this that says it's the deluxe 14 track + poster edition. The two bonus tracks are radio edits of two songs on the CD already. So taking songs on a record and putting an additional edited or watered down version of it counts as a bonus nowadays. Hate to say this Ace fans but this is proof he thinks you (me) are a sucker. And did he really need radio edits for the ZERO radio stations that will be playing anything off this record? The poster's even a bigger joke. You've probably seen a poster like this before. It's sometimes called a CD cover. Deluxe Edition - F
Lets spin this Turkey and see if she flies.
1) Space Invader - Starts out rocking enough. It's about an alien who's flying across the galaxy to get to earth to help save our planet. Kind of the opposite plot of the Fantastic Four Rise of The Silver Surfer. Ace's voice sounds good. Solo is a sloppy. It starts off almost as a nod to Ozone from his 78' record. B-
2) Gimme A Feelin - Uggh. Heard this one in advance of the album coming out. Vocals are flat out bad. Take two please. And all of the guitars, rhythm and lead sound sloppy. D
3) I Wanna Hold You - Well Ace seems happy. I'm not familiar with the co writers of this song but my beer is tasting good. It's not bad. It's just not good. C
4) Change - I'm really trying to like this record but this song isn't helping. Ace sounds good singing again but the song lacks life. I'd mock the simple/stupid chorus lyric but Ace has never been a great lyricist and frankly isn't why his great songs are great. The guitar solo for this song sounds the best so far. Maybe it's the beer. C+
5) Toys - I've been dying to hear this since I saw this title. Is this another Dolls? Or Al Little Below The Angels? Lets see... Dear lord. Another brilliant chorus. It's about going to Vegas and gambling with hookers I think. Also, I think part of my issue with his leads are the tone. This song isn't one he should include in any live set. C-
6) Immortal Pleasures - This song is just silly and a pretty fucked up way to tell everyone he gets lots of pussy. And its my favorite so far. B
7) Inside The Vortex - I'm struggling. Maye it's me. Maybe this is how Ace has always been? But I don't think so. Another snoozer. Oh wait! Great breakdown and solo! There he is. And he rally's! C+
8) What Every Girl Wants - It's the first song that grabbed me from the beginning. Nice verse.... and of course the chorus is embarrassing. Ok it's not that bad. Its pretty catchy but the "walk in the park" line is garbage. Solo and break back in is killer though. B-
9) Past The Milky Way - Unless he wants to write a song about all the bitches he got pregnant on Jendell it might be time to retire the space references. Ok that's damn near what this song is about. Loving it. I think he just copped to the occasional "performance" issue with the ladies. Awesome. If there's one song I'll go back to after this is done it's this one. B+
10) Reckless - Let me guess. He lived a reckless life. Bingo. I don't really get what he's talking about which is weird because Ace is typically a paint by numbers story teller with his lyrics. But this is a good song. B
11) The Joker - Ok I'm pausing this. I want to go on record as saying when I heard about him doing this song I thought it was a bad idea. So now if I shred it you can tell yourself I wanted to hate it. Might as well get a fresh beer for this one. Ok. Pushing play. How many takes do you think it took for Ace to say "Pompatous" correctly? Ok I have to admit this is kinda of a fun version. Nice solo Ace! For a cover? B+
12) Starship - An instrumental? At least it's not another attempt at milking the Fractured Mirror teet. Kind of starts out like it though. I don't have much to say about this. I've always felt that Fractured Mirror was the one example where ending a rock record with an instrumental worked. Ace has decided to make it his calling card. Oh! There's a direct homage to Fractured Mirror.
I love Ace. I want this record to be great but it's just not. It sounds like it wasn't recorded in a professional studio and that's because it wasn't. This isn't a bad record and it's better than his last one. But like Peter, Paul and Gene, Ace's best contribution to music will always be his work with KISS. But where Ace is different is I believe he has a great album in him. But to get there he needs to do two things.
1) Stop working with people who are in awe of him or people who can use his name on their resume'. I like John Ostrosky but he's about as big of an Ace shill as you get. He needs people who understand the end product not people who want Ace to attend their child's briss.
2) Work with a real producer and studio. Eddie Kramer is one of the few people Ace has taken time away from talking about Ace to admire and respect. And from KISS to his Ace's solo work Eddie's been the producer on all of Ace's best work. Get Ace some great songs and have Eddie produce I think we get a great Ace album.
Sadly I feel only one of those things is possible and neither is likely. Ace loves him some Ace. He's not about to cut off the people who remind him how awesome he is. But he's also in his 60's so I think it's time I took my own advice and not worry about what could be and enjoy what Ace gave us. It does sound like he's having fun and at this stage of the game that's probably pretty important. You go Ace. I just hope he actually tours this record. I need a beer and some Trouble Walkin'.