First Impressions: Ace Frehley covers 'The Joker'

KISS guitarist takes Steve Miller Band classic
By Peter Lindblad

Ace Frehley will release 'Space
Invader' on Aug. 19
When the track listing for Ace Frehley's upcoming eOne Music release Space Invader was released, the mercurial ex-KISS guitarist sprung a surprise that gave everyone pause.

It's safe to say that nobody expected a cover of the Steve Miller Band staple "The Joker," but then again, predicting Frehley's next move has always been impossible. After all, who could have foreseen his version of Russ Ballard's "New York Groove," recorded by Hello way back in 1975, being the best thing to come out of the four KISS solo albums of the late '70s?

One of the hotly anticipated records of the summer – especially with the still simmering feud between Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on one side and former KISS members Frehley and Peter Criss on the other garnering headlines even after all the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction awkwardness – Space Invader is Frehley's chance to shut up critics who long ago gave up on him. (eds. note: a more complete review of the record will be posted soon on this site)

Ace Frehley - Space Invader 2014
Earlier this summer, Frehley gave the world a little taste of Space Invader, the follow-up to 2009's Anomaly, by releasing the first single "Gimme A Feelin'" and it's a catchy little nugget of spirited rock 'n' roll fun that cleans up the glam rock of the New York Dolls without completely scrubbing away its grit. Now comes Frehley's take on "The Joker," and it's the one that has people a little nervous. Issued this week, you can hear it for yourself here:

Thankfully, although opinions have been mixed, Frehley's version is a damn sight more lively than the original, moving at a quickening pace as the modern production and big guitar rush breathe fresh life into what's become a moldy, sluggish oldie played way too many times on classic-rock radio. Less organic and earthy than the original, this sleek, updated cover trims away the fat to reveal a tighter, leaner song that now sounds as if it was made for these times. And maybe, just maybe, Frehley's career could be on the verge of a renaissance that few could have imagined.

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