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Music Review: Ace Frehley tops former Kiss bandmates with new release
By Jim Hagerty
Not to take anything away from the success of Kiss and the abilities of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley to turn a mere circus act into a musical empire, original Kiss lead guitarist Ace Frehley’s latest album, Anomaly, his first in 20 years, is making serious waves and may leave the new Kiss release, Sonic Boom, in its wake.
Despite Frehley’s troubles with substance abuse, nobody has been able to take the fact that he’s one of the hottest rock guitarists to ever live away from him. Critics have long since quipped that a completely-inebriated and high Ace Frehley can outplay a score of sober A-list players. Obviously, however, this record comes from a sober Frehley—the one who continues to influence a long list of musicians since he joined Wicked Lester, which became Kiss in 1973.
Aside from the smoking Les Paul and other onstage theatrics that marked him as Kiss’ original Spaceman, Frehley’s solo projects, musically, have carried more weight than anything Kiss ever released without him. Anomaly is certainly no exception, and follows trends that Frehley, himself, helped set.
Released last month, Anomaly is a 13-track collection of original tunes, except an edgy cover of Sweet’s “Fox on the Run.” With an all-star band, including Late Show with David Letterman drummer and long-time pal Anton Fig and Anthony Esposito (Lynch Mob), the record contains classic Frehley riffs and vocals hauntingly similar to Ace’s 1978 solo album that spawned the hit “New York Groove.”
Anomaly also champions Frehley’s creative genius with snappy hooks and lyrics indicative of a true rocker in touch with the artist inside himself. The disc is also packaged in a three-dimensional case. Kiss fan or not, Anomaly is Ace Frehley at his best, and it begs the question how Simmons and company dared to carry on the Kiss name without him.
From the October 21-27, 2009 issue