Ace Frehley – “Origins Vol. 1” (Steamhammer / SPV)
Following on from the success of his impressive 2014 release “Space Invader”, which really took us back to the early days of Kiss, comes this equally star studded covers release revealing the inspirations behind the persona that took a music loving kid from the Bronx to become the lead guitarist and co founder of one of the greatest US rock bands of all time – Kiss. Instead of hanging out at the corner store looking for trouble, Frehley soon realized that music, and not school or street gangs, would be his path as homework became less important to the tutelage of maestros like Townshend, Page, Clapton, and Hendrix. His 1972 audition with Kiss would be the defining moment in his life as he began to pen songs like ‘Cold Gin’ and ‘Parasite’, both legendary classics that still feature in the band’s repertoire today even though the Ace departed in the early 80s. Lesser well known perhaps is that he helped his band mates refine their individual make up looks, and also designed the group’s famous logo. Although initially shying away from the microphone, Ace got his chance in ‘Shock Me’ from 1978’s “Love Gun”. After that, a lot’ve water, not all of it good, flew under the bridge for close to 3 decades until 2014, when the aforementioned “Space Invader” became the only Kiss-related solo album to ever crack the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart, and Ace was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside his former Kiss band mates. Amends made and we now find none other than Paul Stanley singing here on a cover of Free’s “Fire and Water”! Joining the Ace is an impressive range of guests like Slash on ‘Emerald’, Lita Ford on ‘Wild Thing’, Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 on Hendrix’s ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCreedy on the aforementioned ‘Cold Gin’. That said, Frehley himself continues his roll by impressively taking on – both vocally and on guitar – the might of Zepp’s ‘Bring It On Home’ (given even more groove), Cream’s ‘White Room’ (even more spaced), The Rolling Stones ‘Street Fighting Man’ (rocked up heavily 70s style) and a dark n heavy version of The Kink’s ‘Till The End Of The Day’ showing both his amazing versatility and guitar prowess. What really makes the magic of these 12 covers is that Ace has gone to the rock n roll heart of these songs and brought them out even more to the fore using his skills to either greatly or subtly add where the originals through the course of time may have become dated. Alternatively, some have been re-worked to how he must’ve felt when listening to them as kid – whatever the case, he’s done a respectful job so can’t say I disagree with any of ’em! Made by rock, Space Ace Frehley shows he still has plenty in him producing yet another hit album.