Album review: Ace Frehley – Spaceman

Ace Frehley has always been my favourite member of KISS. His guitar work inspired me to pick up that instrument, and when I started getting a regular paycheck, my first purchase was a Cherry Sunburst Gibson Les Paul like he’s played for years.

But Ace is notoriously flaky and lazy, so his musical output has always been low. In 2009, he released his first album in 20 years, the surprisingly good “Anomaly”, followed by another decent effort in 2014 (“Space Invader”). He also released a hit and miss cover record in 2016, and he’s back again now with a new album called “Spaceman”.

I would like to be able to say he’s still on a roll, but that’s not the case. Even the presence of Gene Simmons on two tracks (he co-wrote and played on “Without You I’m Nothing” and “Your Wish Is My Command”) cannot save this record. “Rocking With the Boys” was apparently written by Ace in the 70’s, and the fact that it couldn’t crack an Ace Frehley record in 40 years should tell you all you need to know.

Ace still pulls out some wicked guitar riffs but seemsunable to come up with a catchy melody to save his life. The songs just aren’tvery good. Not-change-the-station bad, but bland and boring. Lyrically, Acesings about the same things he’s sung of for years: he was born in theBronx, he had it rough as a kid, and he rocks. Oh, and space. Of course. Andthere’s “Quantum Flux”, the obligatory guitar instrumental with a pseudo-scientific title. 

Once again, Ace designed the cover himself, and it lookslike a Photoshop homework from the 90’s. The two Simmons tracks are the best ones until you get to “I Wanna Go Back”, but that’s an Eddie Money cover, and it’s not that great either. I wanted to like this record. I really did. I’ve liked most of his output and will claim to my death that 1989’s “Trouble Walkin’” is a great underrated rock record. “But “Spaceman” bored me. Sorry Ace.

Jean-Frederic Vachon
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