CD Reviews

Ace Frehley - 'Anomaly' Hot

Added by James Gaden     February 24, 2010    
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New solo album from the former Kiss Axe man


The last time we had any sort of released output from Ace was on ‘Psycho Circus’ and let’s not forget that he and Peter contributed very little to that in reality. So for Kiss and Ace fans this has been a long time coming. But, is it worth the wait I hear you ask? If you loved the ‘78 solo album as much as I did then ‘Anomaly’ is his closest work to that.

Kicking off with the staccato riff of ‘Foxy And Free’, this is classic Ace in style, in vocal and feel. One thing that is noticeable is that this is a guitar album with no pandering to commercial hopes like Frehleys Comet days. This is Ace at his most honest and doing what he does best. The autobiographical ‘Outer Space’ could easily have been on his ‘78 solo record and the chorus and riff are classic Ace, and lets be honest this man was the true rock and roller in Kiss and it shows. One thing evident from Ace’s recent tours is his guitar work, and after some sloppy final years with Kiss, it’s nice to hear the man playing his trademark licks again.

Keeping with tradition of quirky song titles from his past ’Pain In The Neck’ almost has a Velvet Revolver feel to it and it’s a pity Slash never got to guest on this album as was hoped, as his style of playing would have fitted in fine with this song.

Following on from the likes of ’Do Ya’, ‘New York Groove’ and ‘2000 Man’ Ace offers us a cover of the Sweet classic ‘Fox On The Run’, and it may be his most inspired cover to date. Simply put, it works and could be the single to gain the man some attention.

The strange title of ‘Genghis Khan’ is almost an instrumental with only a few vocal phrases thrown in, the song is a collection of chunky riffs that have an AC/DC vibe but still retain the Ace Frehley signature sound. In past solo records Ace had to steer away from this for commercial reasons and that is why this is the truest Ace solo album in nearly 30 years. ‘Too Many Faces’ and the oldest song here ‘Sister’ is probably the closest to his Frehleys Comet output and is a nice inclusion for fans who favoured this era of his career more.

Ace has dug deep on this release to try and capture the essence of what we loved about the man in his Kiss and solo days, but that’s not to say it’s all plain sailing, the unplugged mood of ‘A Little Below The Angels’ is too wide off the mark and the cheesy mid section narration is awkward at best, and is the only real goal for me here. Luckily the wonderfully titled instrumental of ‘Space Bear’ which will be familiar to Kiss fans from the Tom Snyder Show, gets things back on track, and it’s almost a mish-mash of riffs and ideas all put together to form one song. It’s not until we reach ‘It’s A Great Life’, which could almost be Huey Lewis in chord structure, that we get Ace at his quirky best. Let’s be honest, Gene and Paul could never pull this off and that’s what gave his old band such diversity. Special marks for a quite imaginative solo that complements the song perfectly along with some of Ace’s best vocal work in some time I thought.

Bringing things to a close is ‘Fractured Quantum’. If like me you adored ‘Fractured Mirror‘ from his ‘78 solo record then you will be familiar with the continued evolution of this song. This instrumental has a wonderful ambience and some melancholy guitar work from Ace and shows that the man has a softer more subtle side to his playing which has been rarely displayed. Ace is back and I told you so!

Ray Paul


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