CD Review: Ace Frehley – Space Invader

CD Review: Ace Frehley – Space Invader
eOne Music
All Access Rating: A-

Ace Frehley - Space Invader 2014
Making his former KISS band mates Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons eat a hearty helping of crow would surely delight Ace Frehley to no end. Dinner is served.

With no easing of tensions in sight between the parties involved, the jilted guitarist, his sobriety having sharpened both his songwriting instincts and his instrumental chops, Frehley lets its rip on the rollicking eOne Music release Space Invader, the follow-up to 2009's Anomaly. 

Digging into his past, Frehley recaptures the raw energy and hard-rock crunch of early KISS and the surprising pop sophistication and vitality of his 1978 solo album – the one that puts all other KISS solo outings of the time to shame – with a tough, rugged title track, an equally ballsy "Gimme A Feelin'" and the infectious glam-rock nugget "I Wanna Hold You." For openers, that's a tough hand to beat – three of a kind comprised of tight, irresistible hooks, bashing drums and searing guitar solos that hit a bulls-eye dead center every time.

More metallic and heavy, "Change" and "Toys" smolder and stomp, as Frehley's riffs bite down hard and draw blood. His claws are out, and these tunes have an air of confidence and a trashy swagger born of past successes and little concern for the critics he's so eager to silence. The Zeppelin-like boogie "Inside the Vortex" seems to channel the spirit of John Bonham, while "What Every Girl Wants" updates the sleazy bump-and-grind of the New York Dolls for a new millennium – Frehley always has had a better grasp of what made the Dolls great than the rest of KISS.

A collection of punchy, slickly produced songs that kick like a mule and have a chip on their broad shoulders, Space Invader hardly ever hits a flat note. Even his version of "The Joker," by the Steve Miller Band, smokes. While every one of these tunes now lives in the penthouse suite, it seems they also revel in trawling through the gutter, looking for cheap thrills. They are rambunctious, but rarely reckless – except when Frehley launches into daring, acrobatic leads that like to wander but never go too far afield. Space Invader, with that classic cover art created by longtime Frehley collaborator Ken Kelly, is just a good bit of rock 'n' roll fun, a little wild, a little sleazy and exceedingly satisfying. That crow is getting cold boys.
– Peter Lindblad

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