We Answer 10 Burning Questions About Ace Frehley’s ‘Space Invader’
After a five year wait, founding Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley‘s new solo album ‘Space Invader’ is finally here. Here’s everything you need to know about this highly anticipated return from classic rock’s favorite Spaceman:
Q: Is it worth my hard-earned Earth money?
Absolutely. It continues the three-album upward trend that started with 1989’s ‘Trouble Walkin.’ Granted, those albums have been spread out across a span of 25 years, but we’ll take quality over quantity every time.
Q: So you’re saying it’s better than his last solo album, 2009’s ‘Anomaly?’
Not by much, but yup! That album is even better than we remembered it being back in the day, but this one is just a bit more consistent in terms of songwriting. ‘Space Invader’ also finds Frehley employing a more sophisticated, textured and almost psychedelic sound, with hints of acoustic guitar lurking in unexpected places.
Q: Is it better than his 1978 self-titled solo album?
Please. But as we implied above, it gets the silver medal.
Q: Are all of the songs about outer space?
No, but most of the best ones are, including the turbo-boosted title track, the massive riff-surfing ‘Inside the Vortex,’ the surprisingly expansive and cosmically emotional love song ‘Past the Milky Way’ and the upbeat, jangly album closing instrumental ‘Starship.’ Oh, and if you want to count the “Some people call me the space cowboy” line in his cover of the Steve Miller Band‘s ‘The Joker,’ the total bumps up to five.
Q: Speaking of ‘The Joker’ – was covering such an iconic song a good idea?
Well, honestly, when the news broke that this was in the cards for this album, we were quite nervous. Unlike Ace’s 1978 cover of Hello’s relatively obscure ‘New York Groove,’ the original version of ‘The Joker’ is obviously very strongly entrenched in people’s minds. “It was the record company’s idea, to be honest,” Frehley told Guitar World of the choice to cover it, “and I was a little resistant when it first came up.” But thinking back to ‘New York Groove’ helped change his mind. As he recalls of that 1978 single, “At first I said, ‘I don’t want to do that,’ and it turned out to be my biggest hit. So maybe history can repeat itself.”
And it turns out, and as we said when we premiered the song last week, Ace actually tackles this difficult mission very well, bringing his own personality and style to this cover. It may be forever doomed to be in competition with the original version — one of the most-played songs on classic-rock radio today — but if the attention this cover earned — good and bad — helps turn on people to this very good album, then job well done by everyone involved.
Q: What other space-related songs would you like to hear Ace cover on this recently revealed covers and remixes album he’s plotting?
Well, you could stick with the Steve Miller Band and cover ‘Space Cowboy,’ which a lot less people know. Or how about something a bit more obscure but still space-related, like Montrose‘s ‘Space Station #5?’ Obviously, he’d have to change up the vocal approach a bit for that one. This directly contradicts our mini-“forever doomed” rant in the question above, but a re-imagined and presumably piano-less version of Elton John‘s ‘Rocket Man‘ would be fun to hear. And, now we’re going to admit that we’re just daydreaming, and mention Deep Purple‘s ‘Space Truckin” as our last candidate and then move onto the next question …
Q: What’s the best song on ‘Space Invader?’
Well, we already put two of the tracks — ‘Past the Milky Way’ and ‘Inside the Vortex’ — on our brand new list of the Top 10 Ace Frehley Post-Kiss Songs, and we went a bit wild by declaring the latter the best song of his solo career, so … guess there’s your answer, huh?
Q: What’s the worst?
Well, first off there are no embarrassing clunkers. But the first single, ‘Gimme a Feelin’,’ is probably the least memorable of the bunch, with a generic and rather busy main guitar riff (more of a constant chug, really) that doesn’t feature Frehley’s distinctive and idiosyncratic touch nearly as well as many of the other songs on ‘Space Invader.’
Q: Is it better than ‘Monster,’ the most recent album by his former Kiss bandmates?
Well, we very much enjoyed ‘Monster‘ and wish we could hear more of songs like ‘Shout Mercy‘ and ‘Long Way Down‘ in concert. But calling it a tie is a wimp’s way out, so we’ll give ‘Space Invader’ a slight edge for being a little more consistent and for more successfully exploring new territory. You should probably own both, in our view.
Q: Does it make you long for an Ace / Kiss reunion?
Nope! As hard as it is to resist the occasional “fantasy booking” thoughts — how would Ace sound on ‘Hell or Hallelujah,’ wouldn’t it be fun to hear Gene Simmons sing the chorus of ‘Immortal Pleasures,’ stuff like that — it’s become more than obvious over the years that these two camps are not meant to work together creatively anymore. Be glad they’re both still around, seemingly happy and healthy and making good records, would be our advice.
Ace Frehley Talks About ‘Space Invader’