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Frehley, Ace: Anomaly

It has been 20 years since the last release by Paul Daniel Frehley and after listening to this disc it will feel like the clock has been turned back to those days once again. I recently read where Ace likens this new album to the first solo outing that he did as a member of Kiss. Believe him when he says this as the spaceman picks up right where he left off with a collection of tunes that seems to be geared to the still mullet wearing crowd that reminisces of days gone by.

Right from the beginning, when he kicks off this disc with the rocker "Foxy & Free" (When was the last time you heard the term foxy?) Ace combines his powerful guitar playing with the cheesy lyrics and testosterone fueled subject matter to the point that one wants to dig out the platform shoes and face paint. While he may say that he is not interested in KISS anymore, this first song could have been a leftover from the Love Guns era. When he then takes you into "Outer Space" on the next song, you will be wondering if he might not have been thinking of what might have been. This trend continues through the next couple songs and the time warp is complete when he does an almost note for note remake of the glam rock staple "Fox On The Run".

Ace does change it up a bit when he steps away from the microphone for what I think are the best tunes on the disc. First is the mostly instrumental piece "Genghis Khan" which starts out with a very cool acoustic guitar then morphs into a chunky, dreamlike electric rocker. Then he gives you a real rocking treat with the instrumental heavy rocker "Space Bear". But the real highlight is the full instrumental "Fractured Quantum" in which he uses the acoustic guitar to make a very Joe Satriani type melody and uses the electric six string to punctuate this very cool song. I found myself skipping to this one time and time again.

The rest of the disc is made up of Ace trying to take his sound in different directions with some working OK and some well, let's just say, will never become something that sticks with you. Like when he does his best Lou Reed imitation on the song "Change The World", where you just sit back and wonder if Ace really thought he might be able to change the world as he says. Or when he deals with his past on the song "A Little Below The Angels" with its attempt to be profound but Frehley has never been known for his lyrical proficiency. On this one, the cheese factor gets just a little bit too much when he employs a kiddy chorus to back him up.

Anomaly is a very mixed bag. It is the album I think Ace wanted to make 20 years ago. It might fill the belly of the fans who are still wishing for a return to their youth but I cannot see this disc gathering much of a new following or for that matter having much of an impact on the music scene today. It is really just a collection of average songs, nothing more and nothing less.

Track listing:

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
10. Sister
11. It's A Great Life
12. Fractured Quantum

Added: October 25th 2009
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Ace's Official Page
Hits: 2338
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Frehley, Ace: Anomaly
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-25 09:08:37
My Score:

Has it really been 20 years since the last Ace Frehley solo record was released? Yes my friends it has because in 1989, The Space Ace would release his final album with Frehley's Comet Trouble Walkin" and eventually find his way back to KISS for reunion shows in full makeup. From this he would return to his solo career and that brings us to the present and to his stellar new release Anomaly. I know what you are saying and that is probably something like "Twenty years? This better be good" and you have a right to be concerned because Guns 'N Roses took sixteen to put out Chinese Democracy and that album was uhm well, let's move along shall we. The great thing is that the Ace record does live up to expectations and delivers on all counts that one could have hoped it would have. We have been finding ourselves in the year of the throwback release and this means that a legacy artist is returning to a form that made them so special to us in the first place and as far as Anomaly is concerned, I would have to say that this is the natural successor to the groundwork first delivered on his 1978 solo release and then on his debut with Frehley's Comet for their self titled album with just a touch of Second Sighting tossed in for good measure. I realize that I appear to be putting it on thick but in truth this is no exaggeration which the listeners will quickly understand as opening track "Foxy & Free" opens up with its crunching riff and rock solid drums. The first single Ace put forth for the release comes up next with "Outer Space" which is a good tune but not one I would have opted to make my first listen. A slight sarcastic wit comes out during "Pain In The Neck" where Ace shows us how not all relationships are peaches and cream. We get a tasty rendition of The Sweet's "Fox On The Run" that while bearing none of the familiar synthesizers or high pitched vocals is still a nice cover.

Frehley shows some maturity in the song structure with the very different offering of "Genghis Khan". Primarily an instrumental track, the groove is wonderful and there is a light chorus that gets repeated a number of times as its only vocals. Skipping around we find the Space Ace offering up some personal introspection during "A Little Below The Angels"; this largely acoustic sounding track has some really powerful lyrics about the guitarist's life. "Sister" might very well be the heaviest number on the album with a pounding double bass drive under the ripping guitar riffs. I'll leave the rest to be a pleasant surprise for the listeners because they will probably enjoy making some of the discoveries themselves even after I have clued them in on this being the best guitar work that we have heard Frehley do in a long, long time. His song writing is sound from beginning to end and each track has a consistency that works with what we had hoped he would present to us after so long. Vocally Ace sounds pretty much the same as he always does on recording and that's not bad since he is not trying to sing outside of his register and instead plays well within the boundaries that he can easily do. Nice work Space Man.

Now for the packaging and this was something interesting in its own right. From the outside it appeared to be a standard digipak release that was housed in a nice paper sleeve but the inside slid out neatly and opened up on multiple sides. Each of these sides featured album artwork and photos of Ace Frehley and their configuration allowed the CD's owner to fashion a pyramid from the packaging. While I thought it was intrinsically cool to see the effort placed into such a thing, I am hardly of the age where I find myself wanting to make origami sculpture out of my CD packages and instead prefer them to fit neatly somewhere until needed once again. I am probably in the minority here but that's what makes the stand I took interesting. There is a booklet enclosed as well, and while this does fold out to a small posted of Ace, I was disappointed to realize that no lyrics were in place to enjoy and that sucked since it would have been fun to sing along with the release every once in awhile.

Ace's album preceded the new KISS release Sonic Boom by a couple of weeks and I am sure that the long standing fans of the group will be picking up each of these albums for their music library to be complete and now that I have compared the two, the question is which one did I think was the better of the pair. To be honest I enjoyed a lot of what the KISS album offered but when it comes down to it from beginning to end the clear winner is the Ace Frehley Anomaly release based on the overall depth of the song writing and the skillful delivery of the same. Ace reminds us why he influenced so many guitar players again and again and the recording has a rock solid production which was done by Frehley himself. It's safe to say that Ace can do any number of these songs in concert and not bore the audience because they are that good. Ace is back and he told us so never rang more true in his career than it does now, so do the right thing and order a copy of this album as you will not be disappointed.

» Reader Comments:

Frehley, Ace: Anomaly
Posted by ??? on 2009-09-20 17:51:00
My Score:

Unmotivated, sloppy and a step beyond derivative and that is with the name Ace Frehley!! Without it--it would never have seen the light of day.

The music and lyrics inside are as hideous as that cover art . Go ahead and waste your money!!

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