Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kiss - Ace Frehley

On September 18, 1978 all four members of Kiss released solo albums. Part of this was to help satisfy bruised egos, part of this was a major cash grab, and part of it was showcasing who actually was a musician and who was merely a performer.

Of the four albums, Ace Frehley's did the best, and is still the most respected of the solo albums. Let me start by saying that Eddie Kramer and Ace produced a really good rock album. It's really one of the best in the entire Kiss catalogue as far as production goes. At least in the 70's.

Rip It Out opens up the album in the way a good Rock album should be opened. It's quick, get's your heart moving and makes you feel alive. Although, that's a bit funny considering the lyrical content. Basically, this is one of those "my woman left me and I'm going to take it out on my instrument" kind of songs. It's a bit angry, a bit sad, and a bit resentful. This song is a man after a break-up.

Speedin' Back To My Baby is your typical upbeat "Hey, baby" kind of song. It's a bit cheesy, in that 60's The Monkees kind of Pop Rock way. Well, the song has a bit more balls than that, but it's not to be taken seriously.

Okay, when a song is called Snow Blind it's pretty easy to guess what the song is about. Which is the only thing that explains why this killer cut never made an official Kiss album. I just can't see Gene playing a song about cocaine, if you need me to clear those last two sentences up. But the truth is, songs about cocaine have a tendancy to end up being really well played. Look at Clapton's Cocaine, or Black Sabbath's Snowblind. I'm not saying that this song is just as good as those two, but I'm not saying it's any worse either. It's on the same wave length, and it kicks some major ass.

After that it's on to my favourite song of the album Ozone. The music is so fucking cool. It's smoothe, sly, and stylish, but not overly flashy. But there's a whole brooding kind of feel to it too. Yet another song that was too much of a party for it to ever be a real Kiss song. "I'm the kind of guy who likes feelin' high / Feelin' high and dry, and I really like to fly / I'm your kinda guy, girl I'm not too shy / And I want you to fly, so I think you oughta try / Ozone, ozone, ozone, ozone / I'm your kinda guy and I'm not too shy / Feelin' high and dry, and I want you to be mine / So I think it's time, girl, to start feeling fine / Feeling good all the time, so I think you oughta try / Ozone, ozone, ozone, ozone". It's not much more complex than that lyrically, but those lyrics mixed with it being musically challenging makes it easy to see why Ace had to do it separately from the rest of the group.

What's On My Mind? is a bit of a your standard Rock tune if it had been released in 1982, but the fact that it was from 1978 keeps me from calling it typical stock crap, although that's the best way to describe it.

I should mention that most of the musical work performed on this album is actually Ace. Everything from the expected Guitar, to the Bass, to the guitar sythesizer, and all other variations of the guitar found on this album. There are a few other tracks that have other musicians, but the only instrument Ace doesn't play on this album is drums/percussion and that makes me happy. It shows where so much of Kiss' original talent really came from. Ace and Paul, if anyone needs me to clear that up.

New York Groove was Kiss' biggest single as of 1978, and it wasn't even a Kiss song. It's a cover of British Glam Rock band Hello. I love this song, and it was the reason I bought this album in the first place.

Of all the songs on this album I find it surprising that I'm In Need Of Love is not a Kiss tune. It really sounds like it would be a Gene Simmons kind of song. In fact part of me thinks it was a left over from Destroyer or Rock And Roll Over, where it would have been a filler. A really good filler, but a filler.

Wiped-out is clearly inspired in part by Wipe Out from The Ventures. However, for the most part this is a Wah heavy trip, that sounds like The Nuge if he did copious amounts of drugs. This is a pretty bitchin' tune and it really makes me groove, although not my normal kind of song.

The album finishes with Fractured Mirror. This is a 5:26 exercise in guitar beauty. This was one of the more celebrated instrumental pieces I remember reading about growing up. I'm not sure if it would still hold up by todays standards. To be honest the song is a bit repetative, and were it not for the giant arena sized chords that come thundering through this song, I wouldn't get much past the two minute marker, which would suck. There's this really cool part that starts around 2:30 and goes until about 3:00 that's really wicked sounding, and I swear the rest of the song was worked around that. I also sound as if I'm ragging on this piece. There wasn't much being released in the mainstream in 1978 that sounded as cool as this. And the fact that it comes from one of the most under rated members of Kiss, and one of the most over rated guitarists, is really cool. I also think it's the perfect way to finish an impressive album. It's a shame it was the best solo album he's released. At least the best that I've heard to date.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

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