Originally released to a very warm reception in 2009, Ace Frehley’s (almost) new album “Anomaly” is now being re-released and beefed up with two bonus tracks. Its’ a perfect time then for any rock fan who might have missed it the first time round to discover this rather excellent record.
Opening track “Foxy and Free” is a straight ahead rocker (co-written by Sebastian Bach). Ace‘s guitar playing has influenced whole generations of guitar players and it hasn’t diminished in the least. “Outer Space” is even heavier with the whole song built around a monster of a riff while “Pain In The Neck” could have been lifted straight off his classic debut solo album. Ace’s signature guitar sound and vibrato are all over this album and it should be a joy to his fans’ ears.
Ace has a record of cherry picking songs to cover that then become his own signature songs like “New York Groove”, “2000 Man”, “Do Ya” etc. This time it’s The Sweet’s lost glam classic “Fox On The Run”. Musically it’s barely changed, but with just a few tweaks it sounds like it was written for Ace and it provides an endlessly catchy chorus - possibly my favourite track on the album.
“Genghis Khan” is as outlandish as that title would suggest – it’s a great stop and start guitar workout with minimal vocal melodies that remind you of the trippy side of The Beatles.
“Space Bear” rolls in with a thunderous riff and equally glorious drumming from Anton Fig. Cleverly left as an instrumental track it has a seriously old-school, “Hotter Than Hell” era Kiss vibe (as does the whole album) – it’s fantastic. The album’s production, handled by Ace and Marti Frederiksen, really deserves a special mention; warm and loud without being old-fashioned, it brings out the best in Ace’s guitar and voice. The fact that he sounds almost unchanged since the late 1970s is astonishing.
“A Little Below The Angels” finds Ace in a rare moment of introspection on has past addictions while “Sister” takes us back to classic hard rock (and near Gene Simmons levels of sleaze!). Opening with a funky guitar riff and a wonderfully upbeat rhythm “It’s A Great Life” is a terrific track and the one I found myself returning to the most often.
Starting with the sounds of birdsong and children’s laughter, Instrumental track “Fractured Quantum” is a dramatic change of pace. A track that really showcases Ace’s ability to build up simple and moving guitar melodies in his own inimitable style. A beautiful and unexpected ending to the original album.
The Bonus tracks on this new expanded edition are a slightly more mixed bag. With only one properly new song added (the slightly forgettable and cringe inducing “Hard For Me”) we are left with a slowed down mix of “Pain In The Neck” (it’s fairly pointless to be brutally honest) and “Return Of The Space Bear” which consists of Ace raving, rambling and cackling over the original track! You can almost imagine Paul and Gene grinding their teeth in the studio waiting for it to end. For die-hard Ace fans it works, but for the less devoted it isn’t much of a draw.
Although this re-release might not win over any new fans it’s without a doubt a more than solid album, hugely enjoyable from end to end. I would even argue that it’s as good, if not better, than the last Kiss studio album (2012’s “Monster”). With 9th and 10th Studio albums on the cards, it looks like The Space Ace isn’t slowing down any time soon. With classic rock legends sadly getting rarer by the day, I think that’s good to know.