Frehley, Ace: Anomaly (deluxe)
Anomaly was a reasonably triumphant 2009 return for original Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley. With the Spaceman not having released a solo album for some twenty years, and with only his contributions to the Kiss reunion, Psycho Circus, coming in between, for Frehleyites it was a real event. Thankfully the album just about lived up to expectations, a big, modern production, courtesy of Ace and Marti Frederiksen, the only real sign that times had moved on from the excellent Frehley's Comet years and Trouble Walkin' solo outing. With Frehley's trademark drawl in place and a suitably solid set of riffs doing the heavy lifting, the likes of "Outer Space", "Pain In The Neck" and authoritative stomp of "Genghis Khan", the latter of which in terms of spirit could have come from Frehley's 1978 solo record, satisfy the faithful. And they still do.
Also containing an excellent cover of Sweet's "Fox On The Run" and a few slightly less expected moments in the shape of the autobiographical "A Little Below The Angels" and early, reworked demo, "Sister", the standard never really dips. While there was little doubting the good intentions of the almost power-pop lite of "It's A Great Life" or original album closer "Fractured Quantum", which is more linked to the previous 'fractured' instrumental tracks in name than feel. With a stellar cast list in place – Anthony Esposito on bass, Anton Fig, Brian Tichy and Scott Coogan on drums, alongside contributions from Derrek Hawkins on guitar and Frederiksen on a variety of instruments – the pretty tight song writing never went to waste.
So, only eight years down the line, what makes this new version of Anomaly 'deluxe'? Firstly it's released via Steamhammer/SPV (the album originally seeing the light of day on Ace's Bronx Born imprint), while new liner notes from Ron Albanese, including a song by song commentary by Ace himself, are added along with a poster and 'enhanced' album art (whatever that means?). Although with review copies being digital downloads, I can't comment on any of these additional features. Leaving the three newly included tracks to add value… well I say three, but one is "The Return Of Space Bear", which was originally a digital album exclusive back in 2009 that expands on the main album instrumental "Space Bear" through some quirky 'narration', so that leaves two… Although "Hard For Me" is the demo of the album opener "Foxy And Free", this version utilising the lyrics originally written by Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, which were replaced on the final recording… Which leaves one, kinda. An early 'slower version' of "Pain In The Neck" proving interesting, if only to confirm that speeding it up was the correct move.
Now I'm a Kiss completist and even I have to question whether three new, but not really, songs and enhanced liner notes, art and a poster is really enough to buy an album for a second time. For those who invested in the album before, that's the choice. For those that didn't, well, yes, obviously this is the version to go for.
That I would have scored the original version of Anomaly at 3.5 out of 5 should tell you where my money is staying...
1. Foxy & Free
2. Outer Space
3. Pain In The Neck
4. Fox On The Run
5. Genghis Khan
6. Too Many Faces
7. Change The World
8. Space Bear
9. A Little Below The Angels
11. It's A Great Life
12. Fractured Quantum
13. Hard For Me (previously unreleased) bonus track
14. Pain In The Neck (slower version, previously unreleased) bonus track
15. The Return Of Space Bear (first time on CD) bonus track
Added: August 14th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Ace Frehley online
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