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Frehley, Ace: Origins, Vol. 2

In my review of Ace Frehley's 2016 covers offering Origins, Vol. 1, I stated that the album was "a fun, honest, though somewhat 'by the numbers' release by Ace Frehley", and this second installment coming roughly four years later isn't all that much different. The former KISS lead guitarist even has gone so far as to mine most of the same bands for inspiration here on Origins, Vol. 2, such as The Rolling Stones, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and, of course, his old band. A few cool surprises, like Mountain's "Never In My Life", Humble Pie's "30 Days in the Hole", Deep Purple's "Space Truckin'", and a few '60s staples from The Animals and Paul Revere and the Raiders saddle up alongside some other predictable choices from the bands mentioned above. Throughout, Ace's guitar playing is quite enjoyable, tossing in his trademark riffs, licks, and solos into these classic rock staples, especially fun on Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times", "Never in My Life", and "Politician", where his bluesy metal runs fit just fine. "Lola" was a good choice for this set, a rousing, sing along song as it is, and given 'party' treatment by Ace, and he does a fine job on the Stones classic "Jumpin' Jack Flash" as you would expect.

Dragging this set down unfortunately are the Space Ace's weak vocals, where were never his strongpoint to begin with, but here trying to belt out lines previously sung by Robert Plant, Leslie West, Steve Marriott, and especially Ian Gillan, simply does not work. The Beatles "I'm Down"? Ouch. Thankfully he has a few guest singers who pop up in spots to help him out, but when the most successful track on the album is "She" by KISS (as it probably should be!), you know you are in for a tough listen.

I mean, it's Ace Frehley, we all love him, and this is by no means a horrible covers album. No doubt he had fun making it, just like the first one, but this is a cursory listen, once and done, while we wait for another new album of all original material. And, half a bonus point for the totally cool album cover, which rocks probably more than anything else here.

Track Listing

  1. Good Times Bad Times (Led Zeppelin) 3:22
  2. Never In My Life (Mountain) 4:03
  3. Space Truckin' (Deep Purple) 5:03
  4. I'm Down (The Beatles) 2:58
  5. Jumpin' Jack Flash (The Rolling Stones) 3:28
  6. Politician (Cream) 4:27
  7. Lola (The Kinks) 3:46
  8. 30 Days In The Hole (Humble Pie) 3:28
  9. Manic Depression (The Jimi Hendrix Experience) 4:01
  10. Kicks (Paul Revere & the Raiders) 2:58
  11. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (The Animals) 3:39
  12. She (KISS) [Bonus Track] 5:26

Added: November 14th 2020
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 940
Language: english

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Frehley, Ace: Origins, Vol. 2
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2020-11-14 18:30:20
My Score:

Anyone who has seen any of my appearances on the Sea of Tranquility YouTube show will know that I have a penchant for KISS. I’m also known for snapping up pretty much any music release related to the band - of which Ace has been one of the main proponents for quite some time now. However, even with that in mind, Space Ace’s Origins Vol 1 album left me somewhat underwhelmed. I mean, it wasn’t a bad collection but considering that the Spaceman’s solo output proper has been pretty decent since he came out of hibernation in 2009, it just all felt a little unnecessary. Hence, it’ll be no surprise that I approached the follow up with less enthusiasm than I have any new music from a KISS-ster since Peter Criss’s utterly lamentable All For One in 2007.

Harsh? Maybe so, but my fears have been pretty much borne out on Origins Vol 2 (even the name feels like a couldn’t be bothered exercise), which again, as covers albums go, is pretty much fine but no more. I wouldn’t say that the 12 songs here sounds lazy but when the ‘bonus’ track of KISS’s “She” is the only moment where I kind of snapped to attention, then you have to wonder what the point was. I mean, even this is, here’s the song you know, done as you know it, but on this evidence, if Frehley decided to do an album full of KISS reworkings, then it would surely blow his old band’s effort at that exercise - Jigoku-Retsuden - out of the water…

As it is I’m left scraping about for highlights, “Space Truckin’” (I’m so glad he didn’t resist adding a Space Ace truckin’ or two into the lyrics) a fun romp through of a great track, while guest singer Lita Ford absolutely owns The Rolling Stones classic “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, which also suits the Ace trademark drawl to a tee - and it contains one of the more intriguing solos from the Frehley-fret board into the bargain. With Robin Zander proving ageless on Humble Pie’s “30 Days In The Hole”, maybe the question should have been why a few more cameos vocalists weren’t added to the mix??

On the other hand comes a version of The Beatles “I’m Down” that does a fantastic job of confirming just how damn good the Aerosmith outing of this song was, whereas Clapton’s “Politician” simply feels like an administration with no mandate - and even John 5 can’t save either track with a solo or two… Whereas it’s Frehley’s latter-day successor in KISS, Bruce Kulick, who adds a bit of welcome flash to “Manic Depression”, where he does an admirable job of uplifting another otherwise unremarkable outing.

And that’s the thing for me here. Origins Vol 2 isn’t bad, it’s just isn’t really much at all. Frehley still sounds in fine loose but tight solo form and his voice still has that authentic twang that people seem to love or hate (count me as a fan even if he seriously butchers The Kinks’ “Lola”) but what this set of songs seems to lack is any real heart or soul. Will I buy it? Yup, and no doubt. You on the other hand may not suffer from the same sickness I do when it comes to KISS and for that I salute you. Ack!

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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