KISStorian remembers ACE @TheAvalon ’94

ace94It was back in the winter of ’94, there’s a reason I remember it well …it was Ace at The Avalon and he was slippin’ & slidin’ on a “Rocket Ride” to hell.

I left the show seriously concerned about Ace. Believe me, at the time it seemed there was no way that KISS would ever re-unite. In hindsight, it’s possible their doing so may have saved Ace’s life.

Reports from Ace’s booze-soaked ‘Just For Fun Tour‘ must have had Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley starting to think it’s ‘now or never’. Especially so when intel on the subsequent Criss/Frehley ‘Bad Boys Of Rock Tour’ pairing had similarly dark forecasts for both the Cat & Spacemen.

But whose kidding who? Whether Gene & Paul had always known they would reunite at some point or not, both Ace & Peter’s camps we’re aiming at the same reunion Yahtzee. As it turns out, the perilous road bender worked, forcing KISS’s hand, one way and another. ace-avalon

Anyway, by the time Ace finally hit the stage an hour late, The Avalon was a scene of KISStoric anguish. It was f’ing freezing outside, but it was hotter than hell in the club as the low ceilings in the over-packed room drove the temperature up. As folks got restless, pre-show chants of “Fuck You!” bubbled up, rivaling the fading “ACE!! ACE!! ACE!!!” flurries as Rock Soldiers started to suspect Ace was “around the corner at the liquor store” (or worse).

We later found out from the Avalon booking agent that Ace had had to be carried up the Avalon’s long backstage stairs by a couple of guys. Rumor is Ace’s ‘team’ couldn’t find him and didn’t realize that he had been passed out in the back of their Ryder truck, parked right outside on Sheffield.  Had they not found him, he may have frozen to death.

After the opening tune “Rip It Out”, Ace stumbled to the mic bewildered and said (no bullshit) “I don’t think I’m gonna make it”.  He was partly referring to how hot it must have been on stage but, given the situation, it was a ‘loaded’ statement.avalon

Again people started cheering and jeering Ace simultaneously. Anguished cries came out from all over …”We Love You Ace!” …”You Can Do It Ace!” …as well as “Fuck You Ace!”. It was as close to a KISS Army mutiny as I have ever seen.

KISStory tells us that although Frehley has ‘Trouble Walkin’ , he usually lands on his feet. In this case, he gets bye with a little help from his friends because, had the original four not come to terms a couple years later, I fear ‘Mr. Excitement’ may have taken a rough trajectory post ’94.  But perhaps it is as the Spaceman himself suggests in the tune “Immortal Pleasures” off Space Invader — he’s always been “protected by the powers”.  Maybe the Talisman are real?

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KISStoric ‘Anomaly’ finds FREHLEY at his best

IMAG0357That’s right; Ace Frehley‘s last solo effort, Anomaly, deserves a revisit and is in my opinion (in need of) a little more love. It was like no one really gave it the recognition I thought it deserved. I didn’t have this blog then. I might have gone Postal on it. Maybe the only critics who reviewed it wanted metal. What they got was a well-rounded rock record with several well-played left turns by Frehley that may have thrown them off.

The fact is this album shows us Ace at his very best breaking new ground that shows a continued maturation, if intermittent, of the scope of his material. There are at least five, maybe six songs on Anomaly that I feel show how great Anomaly was and Ace.  I don’t know how anyone, even if they had never heard Ace, could come away from it thinking anything other than that he is a crafty, fun songwriter, a bitchin’ guitarist and a really cool singer with his own sense of style on all fronts. Singular ….an Anomaly, on several levels. All it should have taken was one of the really great tunes from Anomaly for someone to shout out to the music world “Wow, this is really good shit!” but, when you are a former member of KISS, there are few pats on the back. That’s not conjecture, that’s KISStory. Hey, it’s not like (even) the old band mates are gonna put in a good word either, right? To prove the point, I present (via Youtube)  “Change The World”, an evolved-Frehley masterstroke full of love with all kinds of here-to-fore unseen Spaceman influences coming into blurry view. It may the best song he has ever written, with “It’s A Great Life” and “A Little Below The Angels” and as close 2nd and 3rd. Ace mentioned the summer of love at the Rock Hall induction in April and this tune harkens back the youthful optimism of the hippy generation he was very much a product of.  Maybe that’s why it possesses a reflective nature and sincerity seriously lacking in KISS in general. Scan0009 (5)Sure, I love the classics, and it’s hard to beat “Rocket Ride”, but these are superior tunes by and large. And, yeah, you can’t beat the first solo record but, in a way, Anomaly betters it at several key moments that frankly eclipse all KISS-related recordings, all KISS forefathers included. As Ace suggests in “Pain In The Neck”…take a reality check — once you’ve added “Genghis Khan”, “Foxy & Free”, “Pain In The Neck” and the emotive continued Frehley reprise of “Fractured Quantum” to the mix, what you’ve got with Anomaly is a bit of a, hate to say it, monster record. I sure hope Ace knows how good Anomaly was and continues right where he left off with his forthcoming Space Invader.

Space Invading Joker to reenter atmosphere

Ace’s new album ‘SPACE INVADER’ will be out in June and is to include a cover of Steve Miller’s ‘The Joker’, hey now!

cropped-scan0020.jpg“Life on Earth has been very good to me, and the body of work I’ve created over the years has withstood the test of time. Today I see no obstacles before me and my creativity has never been more fine tuned. Growing up in an Alien world has enhanced my senses and allowed me to succeed where others would have failed. The best is yet to come!” – AceFrehley.com