Record Reviews

Album review: Ace Frehley “Origins, Vol. 2”

Ace Frehley returns with a new album of covers of classic rock songs that inspired him. Plus a smoking version of early KISS tune “She”.

Some people may wonder why a great songwriter like Ace Frehley is doing another album of covers. But throughout his career, he has been mixing covers in with original songs. On this new album, he revisits some of the music that influenced him as a young musician. Exactly two years ago, on 5th September 2018, I witnessed a fabulous show by Ace Frehley right here in Roppongi, Tokyo. The Spaceman was on fire and sounded so good, both vocally and on the guitar. It seemed he had pulled himself together and once again became the world-class rock star he can be. His new album, “Origins, Vol. 2”, is the follow-up to 2016’s covers album “Origins, Vol. 1” (Ace also released the splendid “Spaceman” album of original material in 2018). The new covers album is good fun. It’s a laidback take on some classic rock tracks. The album sounds spontaneous and because of that, it is also very good. This is Ace Frehley having fun with musical friends playing some of the songs he grew up with during the 1960s and 70s. Many of these cover versions on this album are really good – such as “Good Times Bad Times” (Led Zeppelin), “Never In My Life” (Mountain), “Space Truckin’” (Deep Purple), “Kicks” (Paul Revere & The Raiders) and “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” (The Animals). There are also plenty of terrific guest contributions on the album – Eric Clapton’s “Politician” features a great guitar duel between Ace and John 5. “30 Days In The Hole” (Humble Pie) has a splendid Robin Zander of Cheap Trick on vocals. “Manic Depression” (Jimi Hendrix) features another former KISS guitarist, Bruce Kulick, who gels incredibly well with Ace. “I’m Down” (The Beatles) has a great John 5 guitar solo and then there is “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (The Rolling Stones) with Lita Ford on vocals. Some of the other fab musicians on the album include Jeremy Asbrock, Matt Starr, Alex Salzman, Ryan Spencer Cook and Philip Shouse. Rob Sabino does a wonderful job with the keyboards on “Space Truckin’”. “Lola” (The Kinks) is a song that is a bit less exciting for me personally but it’s still a decent track featuring Ace’s girlfriend on background vocals. As a bonus track, we get a fresh version of the early KISS tune “She”. It is the album’s highlight for me. KISS played it live already back at their very first show in 1973 (and prior to that an earlier version of the song was performed by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley with their pre-KISS band Wicked Lester). It then appeared on the KISS album “Dressed to Kill” in 1975. Rock soldiers – Ace is back and he told you so!

Ace Frehley’s new album “Origins, Vol. 2” will be released on 18th September via eOne/SPV.