Ace Frehley, as most fans of rock music know, used to be the guitarist for KISS. In fact, many would argue that he's still the only guitarist for the band and that any lineup of the legendary group that doesn't feature him is merely a well-paid cover act. While that argument will probably last until the end of time, one thing is for sure: Ace Frehley is still making great music. Proof of this lies in his latest album, 2009's Anomaly.
One of the first things that I noticed about this album was it's cover, which features some spaced out graphics, a pair of shades covering some very familiar eyes and two reminiscent-looking lightning bolts projecting from a ghost white face with black, pointy, spacey lips. The image immediately brings back memories of Ace in his signature makeup. I'm absolutely positive that that is the very effect Frehley was going for with the album cover.
Opening the CD is also quite an experience. Four fold-out panels open up to reveal the disc with another spaced out face on it as well as a small poster of Frehley with his guitar raised to the heavens and on fire and liner notes on the poster back. Also included are instructions to fashion the panels into a pyramid that features the album's cover and a pic of Ace as well.
Once the CD is extracted from its galactic carrying case, it's the music that makes it all worth your while.
Fans of Frehley's first solo project will hear some familiar licks in Anomaly's opening track, Foxy And Free. It sounds a lot like Snowblind, from the 1978 Ace Frehley album. Much like that tune, Foxy And Free is a ripping, hard-driving rock track. Quickly following is Outer Space, another hard track probably would have fit perfectly on Frehley's 1978 album.
Pain In The Neck is the next song on the album and it is one of the more modern sounding tracks.
The fourth track offered up by Frehley is a cover of Fox On The Run, a song originally performed by the British glam outfit Sweet. I've heard one other version of this song performed live by the group The Academy Is... and must say that while both covers are fairly straight renditions of the original, Frehley's has that extra "something" that makes it sound the best. The song is one of the major highlights of this album.
The instrumental rocker Genghis Khan is next, and while not that heavy when compared to the rest of the album, it's still very good to listen to. The bass work is especially good on this track.
The next track is Too Many Faces, a nice light rocker that ready's the listener for Change The World, a song that sounds a lot like much of Ozzy Osbourne's lighter offerings on his recent albums Black Rain and Scream.
After these two lighter offerings, Ace grinds out the heavy Space Bear which may or may not be a nod to the infamous KISS interview on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder. If you're unfamiliar with that particular interview, it involved a number of hilarious incidents primarily involving an inebriated Frehley, one of which included dressing up one of Snyder's teddy bears as the Spaceman himself.
If there's any miscue on this album, it's the next track, A Little Below The Angels. While it isn't necessarily a bad song, it throws off the rhythm of the entire album. It's too light, bordering on Butterfly Kisses sentimentality that just doesn't fit.
Thankfully, Frehley brings the listener back to the outer realm with Sister and the choppy It's A Great Life. Both of these songs hint at Frehley's 80's sound but could easily be played alongside many of today's currrent popular rock tunes on the radio.
Finally, the instrumental Fractured Quantum gives Anomaly a nice send off. If you've been following Frehley's solo career, you already know that there are three other Fractured tunes on his other projects. This particular installment of the Fractured series sounds great and is a fitting end to an almost flawless album.
If you love Ace Frehley, and you know you do, get Anomaly. Frehley plays an excellent host of tunes here that span the growth and development of his sound over time. I'm a firm believer that had Ace been given a bit more creative leeway while he was in KISS, the band would have eventually morphed into a very heavy hard rock group.
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