Ace Frehley - Space Invader

Ace Frehley Space Invader cover
Ace Frehley
Space Invader
The “Space Ace” is back with another solo album, after a few delays and the rather underwhelming 2009 “Anomaly”. His fifth, solo effort outside the boundaries of Kiss, finds the twice, “high flying” guitarist and recent Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee, more or less doing what he does best and that’s rocking out with a certain gusto in a way that’s rather reminiscent of his former band. His gruff vocals are not his strongest point and one could even call em an acquired taste. His playing might not be exactly the flashiest, but it certainly is something that is quite personal and he did really pretty much pioneer and helped shape the sound of KISS without question.
There’s a certain KISS vibe and feel all over these songs here, a rock n roll feel good vibe that’s pretty undeniable. Simmons and Stanley might have been able to soldier on without the “other half” of the original band, but I’m not entirely sure how bad, KISS might have been… with Ace’s input. On the other hand they seem to prefer, the trouble free, current incarnation of the band that has been touring around for many years without any hiccups at all. It’s a trade-off that they seem to have made and never looked back since the reunion fell by the wayside... a few years after it materialized.
Onto the record itself then, “Ace” still seems to have this psychosis, about his “Space Ace” persona, so “Space Invader” is a spaced out rocker, that struts out and about with a nice groove and has a tasty solo in the middle. Without being the most technical player in the face of the planet, Frehley, manages to both have a style all of his own, as well as some ideas, that set him quite apart from a lot of other people. I guess it must have to do both with being a child of another generation, so his influences are distinctly different to those of modern guitarists as well as being a pioneer in what he did, with KISS. KISS were one of the first bands when they started that took their influences and turned them all the way up to 11and made em wilder and crazier and sexier.
“Gimme A Feelin” is so much better, sounding like some good 70s KISS leftover track that should have actually been included on an album and would have been a hit, back in the day...
“I Wanna Hold You” has a lot of Beatles influences, that did spill over to early KISS, but tries hard to copy the Gene-ial, style of vocal. To be honest, he’s on par with Gene, but hey, the only “real” singer in “THAT” other band was always Paul Stanley, with anyone else only just managing to capably maybe do “some” tunes. Not a bad tune, but nothing you’ll lose your head over either.
“Change” has a nice intro and a really good cascading riff but the vocal is pretty strained and while the whole idea seems to have been interesting one it still seems to be a song that could have been much better if it had more daring dynamics or at least a better singer. Even the solo that’s quite nice, doesn’t really impress much as it feels completely in line with the rest of the song, it’s not a special “moment” that underlines that portion of the song... if someone just took it out and just continued to play the riff over I doubt if anyone would have noticed really…
“Toys” (for big boys) (really?) has a cute riff, but not much else as it really doesn't do much more than glorify the “luxurious” lifestyle… sure in a world in recession – just underlining that you’re a rich rockstar, is the thing to do… well at least Rockstardom was achieved with songs that were far better than this.
“Immortal Pleasures” is a simple and inane song that would almost fall under the filler category as it just utilizes simple KISS patents and mannerisms to create a bad power pop acoustic pastiche of bad lyric imagery that  again glorifies, being rich and having a good time being rich. Wow. And then you were smart enough to sell your “Space Ace” Persona TM. Smart move.
“Inside the Vortex” is a vast improvement over the crappy tracks that precede it, without being some gem. It’s a spacey rocker, that has Bowie and light Sabbathesque qualities about it, through the ever present KISS prism, the echo effects make it sound even more appropriate as well. I’d say one of the keepers of the album.
“What Every Girl Wants” is straight out, awesome. Another winner, a track that could have been on a 70s KISS album, easily. It has the right groove, tone, lyrics, color. Yeah, Ace still has it, but… it sort of “comes and goes”…
“Past the Milky Way” is a bizarre jam, with twisted spaced out guitars and much improved vocals... than other songs, maybe due to the effects used that has a very unique style, with the guitar totally dominating it and an overextended solo being quite unusual… like a psyched up KISS meets the Beatles in the Sky with Diamonds… it’s certainly interesting…
“Reckless” is not really that “crazy or wild” but it’s sort of alluring in its own way, with its basic twangy theme being catchy enough, to warrant that the listeners interest will be maintained throughout its duration.
Last time “Ace” decided to cover “Sweet's” “Fox on the Run” and this time it’s “The Joker” by “The Steve Miller Band” that gets covered. It’s decently done, with the solo given a bit of a bit brush up...
Last and wishing it wasn’t there at all (you thought I was gonna say “But not least, right”?) we get treated to a seven plus minute track, including some 1 minute intro with stupid comms, and then another 6 minutes of instrumental noodling in a mild roots, hilly-billy style, entitled “The Starship”. The soloistic ideas are not too bad, but the overall thing is boring as #$%# at seven effing minutes!
Well, 2 great songs, a couple of more that are good, a couple of good jams and a couple of songs that could have been good, plus a cover and quite a bit of filler a number of years after his last album, five to be exact, is spelling out in big bold letters, what Ace Frehley is; Inconsistent. He can do really well and he can @#$#@ things up really bad. The problem is that outside KISS, he’s hardly a force to be reckoned with. If he’s clean as he professes to be his best bet would be to try and get a bunch of “hits” written and then “hire” a capable singer and try to create a “super-group” around him. Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion anybody? It could crush and burn like a Comet, or it could do well… who knows...
Hard core KISS fans and Ace Fans might love it, but only half of the album is Good/Great, the rest is “pretty bad”.
PS: If you’re a KISS/Ace fanatic, screw that grade, it’s probably gonna be a much better album for you, a 7 or 8 maybe.