ACE FREHLEY’s Origins Vol.2 a good time

Thanks eOne for the advance of the 4-seam fastball that is ACE FREHLEY’s Origins Vol.2. And, hot stove news spoiler, it’s a well-paced labor of love and a real stellar rock & roll party! Go figure right? …AAACCKKK! but, same as it ever was, no pretense and no fluff = good times. And like your favorite pair of jeans, faded but not jaded, Frehley rolls on Les Paul a blazin’, narrowly outflanking ‘Origins Vol.1’ on an adjacent orbit, phasers set again for fun, America’s favorite past-time.
>> GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES – no big shock, Ace’s has had his share, but real nice to have Pagey in the lead-off influences/origins spot, speedin’ back, I don’t mean maybe, but I still don’t seem to care — it was Ace’s Page-like phrasing and detached ‘rock or be rocked’ vibe that got him the KISS gig, hence the spot on delivery of this rock crucible
>> NEVER IN MY LIFE – this may be about torpedo girl herself, or the ultimate Mountain women, certainly a Richie Scarlet infusion with 2-sides of the coin’ to choose from …”feel like a bolt of lightning!” …best tune on the album?

>> SPACE TRUCKIN’ – hard, heavy, foxy ‘n free spaced Deep Purple (slight return), ample G-forces to take your breath away just long enough to ascertain the Space Bear is M.I.A. again, riding’ high in the saddle with Blackmore’s gang

>> I’M DOWN – and out!! and down to the wire!! There’s no escape from this island of guilty FabFour pleasures, special thanks to a bench hit from John 5 and a delightfully spirited lead vocal from Mr. Excitement …does anyone remember laughter? good times!
>> JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH – Lita Ford kisses us deadly on this tag team sortie and it’s a gas, gas, gas runnin’ outta oxygen as the 2,000 man casts more lightning bolts across the pond — don’t run, good things are at hand, little runaway. Ace’s chorus vocal is as chill as the pill
>> THE POLITICIAN – Frehley diplomatic mythos manifested in finely aged Cream, a deep dive into earthly matters, couch calls, fractured mirrors and the non-partisan ozone, not my favorite track but it does belie the ‘origins’ of the “Space Bear” riff off Frehley’s 2009 release, Anomaly.
>> LOLA – Faithfully Kinked out by Ace, as with “All The Day And All The Night” on Vol.1, “Lola” & British Invasion continue to offer Frehley gender-bending hooks to burn and further insight into his keen pop sensibility, one of the best cuts on here
>> 30 DAYS IN THE HOLE – Robin Zander dices this classic up like Zoro; all treat, no tricks, rollin’ numbers, rock & roll, got my Humble Pie records out, surrender, this is grade A rock and an awesome pairing, would love to see these two do more together, what a long strange trip it’s been!
>> MANIC DEPRESSION – fellow KISS gunslinger Bruce Kulick channels Hendrix, summoning his wah-wah and acid rock swells as Ace waits on deck, bringing BK round with a base-clearing lead coda, a guitar Donnybrook
>> KICKS – A fair distance from Route 66, Ace takes this pure pop sedan, removes the top and mods it for turbo, mining seminal rhythm riffs that would help shape his approach to KISS tunes, then get his kicks. go through a park and space their heads out
>> WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE – a surprisingly rockin’ rendering of this soulful 60’s Picasso, obliterating the gravity on earth that used to hold us Animals down, gotta get away, leavin’ tomorrow by some way … reminds me of Ace’s take on Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” off Origin’s vol.1 in the decidedly creative approach / re-write, really fun versions
>> SHE – Old School, plus 40 years, Ace hits the boosters on the outro, catapulting into the free-form unknown so rarely glimpsed in KISS’s cannon, wailing comets, dressed to kill, and doin’ well for others.
Great album, home run

KISStorian ranks ACE FREHLEY solo eclipses

ACE FREHLEY – 1978 — The crucible salvo that defined Ace’s sound for all of his future KISS & solo offerings and that served as the ‘shot over the bow’ that woke KISS fans to the fact that Ace was even cooler than we had thought ….if you don’t like “Rip It Out”, ‘What’s On Your Mind?” …I hope you suffer!

ANOMALY – 2009 — A transcendent Ace album that, although a little light on song count, takes us out of the KISS stratosphere completely in terms of message and style with Frehley left turns “A Little Below The Angels”, “Change The World” and ‘It’s A Great Life”. Buttressed by several cool rockers, the best perhaps being “Foxy & Free” and the brooding explosion that is “Pain In The Neck”, Anomaly is a celestial unveiling.

TROUBLE WALKIN’ – 1989 — A great back-to-basics rock record that was a kick in the teeth to anyone who thought Ace was “down & out” after Second Sighting, Trouble Walkin’ finally tapped the rock solid promise of his original ‘Comet line-up by (re)enlisting ‘Rock Soldiers’ Richie Scarlet on guitar & Anton Fig on drums. “Shot Full of Rock” says it all when Ace opines … “Ain’t got time for posers!”.

FREHLEY’S COMET – 1987 — A state-of-the-art Eddie Kramer produced 80’s rock tomb and a key moment in KISStory, the debut of ‘The Comet’ hailed the return of a made-over Ace with a competitive record and cache that inadvertently restored some credibility to the slightly faded KISS brand.

SPACE INVADER – 2014 — A return to hard rock form for Ace in response in part to those thrown off by the evolved scope of Anomaly, Space Invader takes us again off planet to a rendezvous on Mars and other spacey guitar-a-thon revelations like the title cut.  Had the production been as stellar as other Ace passages, Space Invader might have eclipsed them all cuz tunes like “Gimme A Feelin'” and “What Every Girl Wants” kick so much universal ass.

ORIGINS, Vol. 1 – 2016 — A bitchin’ ‘Space Ace’ time machine that takes us back to the bands & tunes that sealed Frehley’s rock & roll fate, ultimately sending smoking Les Paul‘s skyward for all to see.  Although a collection of covers, it also includes a couple hot re-workings of classic Frehley-penned KISS numbers in “Parasite” and “Cold Gin”, both still staples today whether seeing the Ace Frehley Band or the new KISS.

LIVE + 1 – 1988 — Although it’s in essence an EP, and only includes one studio newbie in the (seriously shoulda been a single!) “Words Are Not Enough”, Live +1  is a great snapshot of ‘Frehley’s Comet’ live that includes an awesome drum solo by Anton Fig. Recorded at The Aragon Ballroom here in Chicago, I was lucky enough to attend, remember the excitement Ace and the band generated and feel it’s captured well here.

SECOND SIGHTING – 1988 — A near-miss by Ace in terms of material & focus on what would turn out to be the ‘Comet’s swan song, Second Sighting has it’s fun moments and great Ace sluggers like “Insane” but ultimately left us wondering if ‘the Comet’ was might burn up on re-entry if they continued on this trajectory.

 

 

KISStorian takes Milwaukee Magical Mystery Tour

A splendid time was guaranteed for all …always has been KISSs charge: to deliver the ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ and bang for the buck, even when it wasn’t in the budget you know?

Step right up to KISS’s ongoing 40-year, often magical mystery tour of mother earth, circa 2016. Yes,  roll up for the Freedom To Rock Tour, it’s an invitation.  KISS are a visual treat but they have now also become, like it or not, a downright heartwarming rock & roll celebration and they gave a lot of renewed love to the presentation of this show, on every level.

Beyond the amazing lighting, lasers, screen graphics, smoke & bombs, it was the best sound I have ever heard at an in-door KISS show, but we were directly next to the sound board (on purpose).  They were not as loud as usual, and that worked as far as I’m concerned. Everything was distinct, damn right warm in fact. It was a rich sound.

A quick, but needed, tip of the Firehouse hat to MVP Tommy Thayer for having now settled in so nicely in to his Spaceman boots. I thought he really brought more of his own feel than ever before to the signature Ace solos and let it all hang out for the majesty of rock. His tone, timing and vibe were really nice and, along with Eric Singer, the two have become the bedrock of KISS in ways that Ace & Peter once were. To me, after last night, they are KISS, not impostors as once feared. I guess I’m back in the New York Groove after all?

Anyway, I’m still digesting some of the cool new wrinkles and the many magic KISStoric moments from last nights show but here are some pix from The Bradley Center in Milwaukee !

The amplifiers start to hum …the carnival has just begun …you’re in the Psycho Circus!

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KMIL_showbizKMIL_mellowyellow KMIL_creatures KMIL_bluedemon KMIL_army KIML_lovegun KMIL_smoke

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KISSorian’s ode to LEMMY & GARY RICHRATH

I would like to start the new year with a serous tip of the black ‘Firehouse’ helmets in remembrance of two rock soldiers who passed away in 2015; Lemmy Kilmister of MOTORHEAD & Gary Richrath of REO SPEEDWAGON. I can’t help but see KISS connections to both legends because, well … that’s what you do when you are a KISStorian.

GRI wanna start with Gary. I picked up the guitar because I wanted to be Gary Richrath on the cover of their double-live opus, You Get What You Play For.  I am from the Midwest and Speedwagon, before they sold out (and Gary left the band), were in many ways the band that bridged the gap between 60’s folk to 70’s rock with tunes like Gary’s “Golden Country”.  Speedwagon was ‘a little bit country and a little bit rock & roll’, somewhere between Skynyrd, Steve Miller, The Eagles and Seger but, with Richrath overdrive, could rival Nugent, Joe Perry, Neal Schon or Ace at any given moment. Plus, their image early on was wide scoped: quasi hippie-dippy, certainly ‘jammy’ and, above all, guitar-driven with Live_You_Get_What_You_Play_ForGary leading the charge on his Sun & Tobacco Burst Les Pauls. He always ripped, like Ace. Even if you didn’t dig the tune you could look forward to the solo. Richrath knew that; he was a closer. He had a singular tone, almost a precursor to Boston’s, and certainly akin to Ace’s on hits like “Roll with The Changes”. Blues based, hairy rock leads, no effects. Same gear as Ace too by and large. I’ve never heard Ace speak of Gary, maybe it’s time? Gary was classic mainstream radio rock competition and so similar to Ace in approach that it’s frankly mind boggling.

On to Lemmy, a larger more domineering rock presence to be sure… Gene, minus the booze n’ drug, may have modeled himself on Lemmy given his predilection for women, strippers and anything breathing / willing.  Gene knew that Lemmy was the only real dude in LA and I imagine their respective black books had some overlap(?). But, to the music  ….Gene’s classic growl / scowl vocal is probably closer to Lemmy than any Lemmy copyother singer on earth (though on “Two Timer” I hear shades of the late, great Louis Armstrong), Gene always had an ear on England, from Slade to The Who … no fucking way he overlooked Motorhead, Lemmy’s delivery or Motorhead’s defiant stance and unwitting formula. And, obvious but rarely addressed, Gene’s semi-distorted bass tone, and guitar player attack, are closer to Lemmys’ than anyone else I can think of also …especially live, just listen to anything live from Alive II on. Notably, Motorhead never played with KISS; Gene may have known it would have been their ‘Kiss of Death’.

Over the years Lemmy provided a convenient stereo-type for the likes of Simmons to mimic. Now it’s time for KISS to cover “Ace of Spades” w/ Ace on guitar and Gene on lead vocal … or for Gene to guest in that capacity on Ace’s forth-coming ‘covers’ record?

Happy 2016 KISStorians!

KISStorian digs ACE FREHLEY’s deep “Space Invader”

thI have now fully digested Ace’s Space Invader at home and in the vehicle. It’s a rock and roll party. For the first few weeks it was an everyday endeavor which was the first indication that Ace was back, even if he had neglected to say so.

SI is a nice kick in ass from Mr. Excitement. I give it high rankings …. perhaps his 2nd or 3rd best ever. It is that good and will provide a lifetime of spins for this Rock Soldier to be sure.  Put it this way, if I made a double disc Ace Frehley bestie “Space Invader” cuts would be featured nicely.

First off, super catchy rocking numbers like “What Every Girl Wants”, “I Wanna Hold You”, “Gimme A Feelin'” and “Immortal Pleasures” make it a must have for any true rock fan, especially any KISS fan.  Secondly, “Space Invader” has more guitars than stage right at a Cheap Trick show (ah, Rick) and they are meaty, beaty, big, bouncy and inspired. He stretches out a bit too with some new feels. The outro guitar solo on the title cut is arguably some of Ace’s hottest guitar work ever. The sustain drone and coincidental random feedback chimes that happen when he gets to the very top of the register near the end of the tune are magic. He does a couple of these Hendrix pull-off trills that recall the rapid-fire harmonic tweaks on the “Makin’ Love” solo on Alive II. Ace sounds relaxed (isn’t he always?) and smartly gives  himself plenty of runaway for flight, allowing him time to get lost in the cascading rock, further propelling him back into the void for another ‘Ozone’ mission.

What I love about the record though, the thing that has really grabbed me, is the content. Yes, the content. The lyrics. The vibe. The messages. The love. The best illustration to me lies in the revelatory platitudes on the dark yet triumphant “Change”. It’s Ace offering some encouragement to those suffering from addiction and letting us all in on a little secret, in fact ‘the secret’ —- “that you can hold the world in your hand”. I think Ace is talking about projection, positive thinking, the laws of attraction. Reality. He’s a semi-cosmic spiritual cat, a child of the 60’s, a man of peace and a hippy at heart who has grown up enough now to set everyone in the conversation straight when he confides “it’s the changing that counts, now open your eyes”. Um ….fuck yeah bro.

I also dig “Past The Milky Way” quite a bit, a love song in which Ace admits he may not make it to Venus because he’s already “traveled very far”, instead proposing a “rendezvous on Mars”. A very reasonable request in light of all he’s been through really. Plus, his computer has been telling him he’s lost. Alas, the Spaceman is able to gather his thoughts enough to sing about becoming a better man. Sure, he’s “running out of oxygen”, we all are, but in Ace’s case he’s still got his guitar. He has traveled half way across the universe in more ways than one just to hold this chick in his arms. Amen.

Thank goodness and thank you Ace for the mammoth rock vision (and good time) that is “Space Invader” — you bring us great happiness from Jendell, AWK!

ACE FREHLEY @ Gibson

meace1Thanks to my pal Dusty Wright of CultureCatch.com I got sit in on an interview with Ace Frehley done by Director of Artist Relations at Gibson’s NYC Showroom  Jim Felber about the release of the Epiphone Ace Frehley Budokan Les Paul Custom. Ace was so mellow and cool; he had just been on with Matt Laurer of NBC’s Today Show that morning in conjunction with the release of his autobiography No Regrets and was now doing a photo session as well as interview at Gibson. Good times.

Just prior to the interview as we were mic-ing him up for the interview, Ace picked up the Epiphone guitar and handed it to me saying softly, “can you tune this and give me a little distortion? yeah?…. thanks”.

Two nights before I had caught Ace at BB Kings in New York and he had fallen off the stage. He could have been hurt. When I told him I was at the show he said “yeah, that was a drag….falling…. the funny thing is the bridge of my Les Paul really took all the force of the fall and it snapped the bolts…. if it hadn’t I might have broken an arm or leg”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8M2-TVhIHU

Ace was not really what i had expected. Being completely honest with you: he came off like a wise old indian chief. He knew how to make everyone feel at ease and welcome and seemed happy to be there but not hell-bent on being the most important person in the room. Engaging but mellow.

And get this: at one point before the interview Ace’s right hand man /co-hort  Jon Ostronomy picked up my folder and started leafing through it remarking “whose is this?” and when I motioned it was mine Ace interjected…”dude, it’s Dave’s ……what are you doin?” (laughter)

It’s hard to tell on the video because of his shades but during the interview Ace would look around as he was telling a story and the couple moments we connected still fills the sails with a fresh Frehley “AWK” air!!

At one point Ace said, after playing a bit, “I’m better with my band” which really showed me a level of humility I had not really anticipated either. At was as if he assumed we were all guitarists there anyway and he was just another guy into them. That’s when I saw it for the first time; Ace the reluctant hero. The underdog who can jam,  The dude you were rooting for, waiting with each other for the guitar solo, picking his moments tp shine.  Hey, lady space? you better wake up fast!!!