"10,000 Volts" (Mnrk Heavy; 2024)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Ace Frehley was lead guitarist for Kiss from 1973 to 1982 and then again briefly on the band's long farewell tour. There were always rumors regarding how much actual playing he did in his last years with the band, with stories of other guitarists coming in to fill that void. Regardless, Ace is one of the most influential rock guitarists of all time.

"10,000 Volts" is the name of Frehley's new recording and it does start off with a bang with the title track. What a great tune, from start to finish, easily the best track of the recording by far.

Let me say this: Ace Frehley is one hell of a guitarist. That is evident in the first few Kiss recordings and I would have to say he especially shined on "Alive!" Also, he can surely write a good tune with examples including "Cold Gin," "Flaming Youth," Rock Bottom" and "Shock Me," just to name a few. But I also gotta say there is one thing Ace cannot do and that is sing. I mean, he can carry a tune once and awhile, but he cannot carry an entire album. His vocals are often flat and uninspired. I wish he had hired a real singer for this album; with the same songs here, this album would have been so much better.

Great guitar work and lyrical content throughout, it just needs a stronger vocalist. I was a little disappointed overall with "10,000 Volts," and initially was going to give it just two-and-a-half guitarsaws. But this is Ace Frehley, legendary no matter what his shortcomings may be, so I'll give this album three guitarsaws instead.

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"Origins Vol. 2" (Entertainment One; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As you can tell from the reviews below, I wasn't thrilled with the past two Ace Frehley albums. "Spaceman" was just okay and I thought "Origins Vol. 1" just didn't work. So I admit, I let "Origins Vol. 2" sit on my desk for some time and didn't get around listening to until months after its release.

I wish I would have listened earlier.

I don't know if it's because Ace is in a better place these days, or because I like the song selection on Vol. 2 better than Vol. 1. Or maybe it's the list of guest stars that give Ace a hand here. Either way, I enjoyed "Origins Vol. 2" immensely. It's got a great, bold guitar sound and Ace's vocals are better than they were on the past two albums.

My favorite tracks on "Origins Vol. 2" are Ace's cover of Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times" and the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (with Lita Ford contributing a great lead vocal). Ace's vocal style fits Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" to a T and the final track is sort of a semi-cover: Ace does a new version of the classic Kiss song, "She," and it sounds great! (And at least Ace is still pumping out new music, unlike his former band).

If you, like me, were a little disappointed with "Origins Vol. 1," give "Vol. 2" a listen. It's still Ace Frehley putting his spin on classic rock songs but, this time out, it just works a little better.

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"Spaceman" (Entertainment One; 2018)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Ace Frehley is like that goofy uncle that you only see at Thanksgiving or Christmas. You love the guy, there's no question about that, but after you hang around with him a bit, you're ready you realize there's a reason you only see him once a year ... and you're all right with that.

Ace is back (and he told you so!) with a new album, appropriately entitled "Spaceman." And you know what? It's not bad. It's got that classic Ace guitar tone, those droning Ace vocals and those lyrics that you wish Ace would have spent just a little more time on ... or maybe have someone help him out with. It's loaded with songs that you don't hate, but that don't ever really grab you, and it finishes with the trademark instrumental ... an instrumental that really never seems to go anywhere(despite featuring some impressive fretwork).

But that's okay. That's what we've come to expect from Ace. And (I'm being serious here), thank God he's still out making music. Despite the fact that "Spaceman" didn't really light my fire, I've still listened to it from beginning to end at least five times, hoping that something will finally get its hooks into me. None of the songs make you reach for the NEXT button (although the low-energy vocals and silly lyrics of "Pursuit of Rock'n'Roll" and "Rockin' with the Boys" tempted me). Some of them are pretty good: "Wihtout You I'm Nothing" has a great crunch guitar tone and "I Wanna Go Back" has a poignant, wistful sound both musically and vocally. (Speaking of  "Without You I'm Nothing," it was co-written by Frehley's former bandmate, Gene Simmons ... as was the lesser "Your Wish is My Command.")

And I must say the solos throughout are terrific. "Spaceman" is worth listening to for the solos alone. That bold Ace sound really shines during the solos, and that's where the album is at its best.

Unfortunately, there's nothing here that's on the level of Ace's classic KISS solo album. There's no "Rip It Out" or "Speedin' Back to My Baby" or "Snow Blind." But that's okay, too. "Spaceman" might not be a great record, but it's a good enough, and that works just fine with me.

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"Origins Vol. 1" (Entertainment One; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Legendary Kiss axeman Ace Frehley returns with a collection of cover songs that, based on the title of this recording, were inspirations for his life in music. Songs on this CD were originally performed by Cream, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, Free, The Troggs, Steppenwolf, the Kinks, Sonny Boy Williamson and ... well, Kiss. And they're good songs, too. You know them all ... although you may not recognize a couple of them as they appear on this CD.

"Origins Vol. 1" is classic Ace. It's got killer guitar tone, chunky riffs and typical Ace vocals. By that, I mean they get the job done, but they're nothing to write home about. Ace has a couple of guests performing on this album, as well, including former band mate Paul Stanley who takes vocal duties on the cover of Free's "Fire and Water." It's an interesting track in that there's almost nothing from the original left. It's a strange, yet effective cover tune, and is different enough to piss of some purists. Lita Ford joins Ace on vocals for a version of The Troggs "Wild Thing," a song that, unfortunately, has been covered too many million times and just kind of drags along here.

Other guests join Ace on "Origins" as well, but this time they're in the guitar department. John 5, who I understand is a huge Kiss fan, appears on two tracks, and Slash and Mike McCready appear on two others. Their appearance lights up the cover songs they perform in.

Overall, I would say that "Origins Vol. 1" is a flawed collection of cover tunes that have all been "Frehley-ized." "Flawed" is probably the wrong word. These are the songs that Ace wanted to honor by playing them, and playing them his way. Some of the songs work very nicely, some do not. The highlights for me were "Parasite," a cover of Ace's own tune from Kiss's "Hotter Than Hell" album, and "Emerald," by Thin Lizzy, with Slash and Ace tearing up the solos.

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"Space Invader" (Entertainment One; 2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Space Invaders" is Ace Frehley's latest solo offering and, while it rocks the house with big fat chords, addictive choruses and solos that are as familiar as they are welcome, it doesn't quite hold up to Frehley's last outing, "Anomaly."

All that's good about an Ace Frehley album is here: the aforementioned riffs, choruses and solos. The crisp production. The unrepentant rock'n'roll atmosphere of each and every song. The bad news is that the not-so-great stuff here as well. As I said in my "Anomaly" review, Ace isn't the best singer or lyricist and sometimes the stiff vocals, combined with so-so lyrics, are wince-inspiring. I was excited when I heard that Ace was covering Steve Miller's classic "The Joker," but the version found on "Space Invaders" is a little stiff and takes too much of the loose groove out of the track ... and it becomes just another cover song.

I certainly don't mean to say that "Space Invader" is a failure; it's not. It's a fun record to listen to, with its rocket man lyrics, Ace's playful personality, and those solos that burn their way into your mind the first time you hear them. "Gimme a Feelin'" is a particularly notable track, thanks mostly to Frehley's fretwork. And fans of Ace's previous work will eat "Space Invader" up. It just didn't catch my attention like "Anomaly" did ... but that doesn't mean I won't listen to it often.

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"Anomaly" (Bronx Born; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

After spending some time in the studio with R. Scott Bolton and Snidermann for my debut on Rough Edge Radio, one thing became apparent: Bolton is a big KISS fan and Snidermann probably uses their CDs as coasters. I labeled Scott "KISS" and Steve "KISS OFF!" When this disc came out, I thought I should pick it up and listen to a guitar player I used to marvel at, primarily because of his persona of "The Spaceman."

The guitar here is really good. I have a few guitar players I strive to play like but I've never considered Ace one of the bunch. He's a pioneer, no doubt, and should be recognized for that contribution. This disc came out after a long hiatus; Ace's last disc was "Trouble Walkin'" which was released back in 1989.

Ace dedicated this disc to Eric Carr and also to Dimebag Darrell. The music is tough sounding and when Ace puts pick to string he can make some nasty riffs come out of his axe. I recommend ripping this disc and putting it on your MP3 player so you can hear the back and forth guitar mixing. The drums are played by Anton Fig who is known as a remarkable session player. The songs here sound a little dated if it weren't for the great production.

Fans of Ace will love his signature guitar licks and dirty blues solos. After hearing this disc I was impressed when Ace plugged in and played. I guess I forgot what he sounded like. His vocals are just all right -- he won't be winning any awards but you won't be throwing tomatoes either. I guess he could have hired some vocal guns but Ace is Ace so he's gonna do what feels right.

The band: Ace Frehley - lead vocals, lead guitar, additional bass; Anthony Esposito bass; Anton Fig - drums, percussion; Derrek Hawkins - rhythm guitar; Scot Coogan - drums, percussion; Marti Frederiksen - keyboards, additional bass and rhythm guitar.

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"Anomaly" (Bronx Born; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Legendary Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley returns to the fray with his latest solo album, "Anomaly."

The good news for Frehley fans is that "Anomaly" fits right into Ace's canon. "Anomaly" is fat with chunky guitar chords, dynamic lead riffs and simple song structures that are easy to sink your teeth into. Ace was always the rawest of the Kiss musicians, his style often neared pure punk rock, and there's no denying that, from Track 1, "Anomaly" is an Ace Frehley album.

The CD begins with the driving "Foxy and Free," and it's a standard Ace Frehley song that could have appeared on his 1978 solo album or any of the later solo or Frehley's Comet albums that followed. In fact, most of the songs on "Anomaly" could have been written and recorded any time during the past 31 years. Ace's music never changes that much and this album fits in with the rest of them like it was always there.

There are a few nice surprises on "Anomaly." Ace covers the classic Sweet hit, "Fox on the Run," and strips down all the gloss that Sweet gave that tune and roughs it up a bit. The heartfelt "Change the World," although not completely successful, does get points for its sincerity, as does "A Little Below the Angels." The instrumental "Space Bear" is a highlight (although those expecting Satriani-style shredding will not be impressed) and, in fact, outshines the signature "Fractured" (this time "Fractured Quantum") instrumental that closes the album.

Of course, as with any Ace Frehley album, there's some bad news as well. Ace still isn't the best singer, and often his vocals sound a little stiff and forced. Ace isn't the best lyricist, either and, coupled with his limited vocal abilities, some of the songs will have eyes rolling.

Regardless, this is an Ace Frehley album and its one of his best. His fans know what to expect. Considering its first week success (opening at #27 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart), there are a lot of Ace Frehley fans out there and they're going to love "Anomaly."

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"Greatest Hits Live" (Megaforce; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

You gotta love Ace Frehley. The man's an honest-to-God icon. An inspiration to thousands, if not tens-of -thousands, of rock'n'roll stars and rock'n'roll wannabes.

This CD, with tracks taken from previous live Ace Frehley offerings such as "Live + 1" and "12 Picks," is Ace exactly as you remember him. Scrappy, sloppy, raw and just barely in control. Contained here are live versions of songs from Ace's solo CD, his Frehley's Comet days, and songs that he and KISS made famous.

They're all given the classic Ace Frehley treatment here: Ace's perfectly out of tune vocals (bandmembers John Regan and Tod Howarth weren't much better than Ace at the microphone; witness the utterly annoying "Breakout"), the clunky arrangements and the guitar solos we've heard Ace play over and over and over and over and over and over.

Yet, while the tracks on "Greatest Hits Live" may be far from tight, it's the solos that make a difference. Something magical takes place when Ace rips into a solo. An Ace Frehley solo can change an entire song. "Deuce" starts out as though the band is playing in a pool of molasses here, but when it's time for Ace to solo, the entire song explodes with energy. And, although we've all heard the "Shock Me" solo enough times to sing it by heart, it still cooks ... and you know if you could only see that goddamn smoking guitar, you'd be standing on your seat screaming for more.

Ace is Ace. You either love him or you hate him but he doesn't care. He's gonna do it his way and he does it again on "Greatest Hits Live."

Also included are two unremarkable studio tracks, "One Plus One" and "Give it to Me Anyway," from Frehley's "Loaded Deck."

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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