Top 10 Ace Frehley Post-Kiss Songs
Ace Frehley‘s post-Kiss output may not exactly be voluminous, with just five solo albums in 30 years. But each time rock’s beloved Spaceman has chosen to return to our planet’s orbit we’re reminded of just how unique his talent and sensibilities truly are. So without further ado, here’s a list of the Top 10 Ace Frehley Post-Kiss Songs:
Ace Frehley waited until five years after his departure from Kiss to release his first Frehley’s Comet album. But the follow-up, the logically named ‘Second Sighting,’ hit stores just 10 tour-filled months later and, well…let’s just say the rush shows a bit. But don’t sleep on this strutting little gem, which finds Ace doling out hard-earned advice on love, life and self-belief over a sinister guitar riff that’s sure to get embedded under your skin.
Drug and alcohol addictions were a big part of the reason Frehley left Kiss back in 1982. But his problems didn’t stop there. For the opening song on his first post-Kiss solo album, Frehley tells the story of the 1983 police chase and car crash that nearly took his life: “I cried ‘I am invincible’ / Said I was high above the law / But my only high was just a lie / And now I’m glad I saw.” Then, over a military marching beat from his old buddy Anton Fig, Ace plays a couple of guitar solos that remind us exactly why it’s so good to still have him with us.
‘Words Are Not Enough’
OK, we’re guessing this will be the Facebook-baiting, “Are you serious?” entry on our Top 10 Ace Frehley Post-Kiss Songs list. Yes, the keyboards are cheesy and dated, and yes, the whole thing is very poppy. But to our ears, ‘Words Are Not Enough’ seems purer of intent than some of the other Frehley’s Comet would-be anthems — for example, ‘Calling to You.’ Also, somehow his guitar work sounds awesome in this rather synthetic setting. Maybe he should sit in with Maroon 5 sometime.
‘Foxy and Free’
Once again torturing fans, this time with a seven-year long wait after leaving the Kiss reunion caravan, Frehley popped up with ‘Anomaly’ in 2009. As if to compensate, the album featured Ace’s strongest set of tunes since his 1978 Kiss-era solo effort. ‘Foxy and Free’ starts off with all the restraint of a bull released from a rodeo pen, but soon settles into a more melodic, typically off-beat head-bopper, complete with loads of cowbell.
‘Into the Night’
Covering the Russ Ballard song ‘New York Groove’ back in 1978 paid off big-time for Frehley, giving him both the biggest hit song and best-selling album among the group’s four simultaneously released solo albums. So choosing another Ballard composition as the first single from his post-Kiss debut nine years later made a lot of sense. But whereas ‘Groove’ was a celebration of life in the big city, the sophisticated and surprisingly serious ‘Into the Night’ looks at the darker side of urban life. It was a pretty bold choice for a comeback single, and it worked very well creatively, heightening expectations for Frehley’s new solo career.
‘Shot Full of Rock’
For his third album in as many years, Frehley ditched the Frehley’s Comet moniker, took over all the lead vocals for himself, and delivered his sharpest, most focused collection of hard rock in more than 20 years. Just about every track on ‘Trouble Walkin” holds up all these years later, but this locomotive opening number stands out particularly well. Of course, in typical frustrating and ironic style, once Frehley found the winning formula he went into hibernation again — finally emerging seven years later as part of the massively successful Kiss reunion tour.
The biggest problem with the two ’80s Frehley’s Comet records was Ace’s attempt to fit in with the pop-metal sound that was dominating the charts at that time. Happily, this problem was largely rectified with ‘Trouble Walkin,’ and one record (and two decades) later completely eliminated with songs like ‘Outer Space.’ The record found Ace employing a more aggressive, beefed-up hard rock sound than in the past — but rather than trend chasing, the results feel like honest, natural extensions of ’70s classics like ‘Rip it Out’ and ‘Rocket Ride.’
‘Past the Milky Way’
Ace goes psychedelic! Over a trippy, churning blend of acoustic and electric guitars, Frehley credits and thanks his fiancee, Rachel Gordon, for putting his life back on track: “Since I met you / Everybody tells me when we’re together / I’m a better man.” He’s clearly a better songwriter — alongside the expected rockers, ‘Past the Milky Way’ is just one of several tracks on ‘Space Invader’ that find him exploring new, more complex and layered material very successfully. Now, just don’t go away for so long this time, OK?
Ironically enough, the most surprising experiment on Frehley’s third post-Kiss album, the blues-influenced ‘Remember Me,’ proves to be one of its most enduring triumphs. The stripped-down musical and lyrical structure suits his voice and personality perfectly. Most importantly, it also serves as an absolutely fantastic showcase for his guitar soloing, which hadn’t sounded this confident, well-paced and hummable since the late ’70s. If you’re reading this, sir — more like this, please!
‘Inside the Vortex’
There’s a definite comet-like pattern to Frehley’s solo activites. There were five years between his departure from Kiss and the first three-album blitz of his solo career, seven between ‘Trouble Walkin” and his reunion with Kiss, seven more till 2009’s ‘Anomaly’ and five more before ‘Space Invader’ arrived. Luckily, his albums are getting more and more worth the wait each time. ‘Inside the Vortex’ rides an absolutely massive riff through the cosmos, with Frehley’s icy, detached Vulcan vocals contrasting with his warm guitar sound perfectly.
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