Origins Vol. I

Ace Frehley

‘Ace’ Frehley / ‘Spaceman’ asks for help to pay tribute to his classics (himself included)

The big problem that Paul Daniel ‘Ace’ Frehley has it that somebody convinced him he knew how to sing. It was his main problem with Kiss, and it still is. But that doesn't really matter to any one, because his 'matured' Gibson is one of the most listened to and respected instruments both inside and outside the rock world.  The same admiration that he has for his 'elders', his 'origins', the ones he dedicates his new album to with versions of classics -he includes himself among them, naturally- that only six-string monsters like The Spaceman could dare to perform. A challenge that prompted him to ask for help from the likes of John 5 -whom we will have dedicate a Jukebox to soon-, Slash and Lita Ford.

The first three songs are the three guiding principles of ‘Ace’ Frehley: Cream, Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. White Room, Street Fighting Man and Spanish Castle Magic, the first two solo and the second featuring John 5. Three versions that are a tribute to the 'originals', without flights of fancy, pure guitar work that doesn't just show off his 'hands' so much as having rock 'n' roll in his blood.

Just in case, he also called on his old bandmate Paul Stanley and Slash himself -another great collaboration- to cover Free (Fire and Water) and Thin Lizzy (Emerald). He invited his friend Lita Ford to be his guest on a memorable Wild Thing, which, by the way, helps her out in promoting the Time Capsule album the veteran Runaways guitarist just released after a lengthy silence.

After a first part that we might say could be expected from 'axemen' of the '80s, the second half of the album begins, without the slightest trace of embarrassment, with one of his own songs. Parasite, a great heavy song he wrote in 1974 for the second studio album by Kiss, Hotter than Hell, is treated to his best playing from a technical standpoint here, with John 5 once again doubling, if not overtaking, him up and down the entire neck.

That is just the beginning. Between Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf and an unexpected version of Til the End of the Day by Ray Davies and his Kinks, Frehley slips in two other songs from his own ‘origins’: Cold Gin, featuring another surprising collaboration by Mike McReady -lead guitarist of Pearl Jam- on the song from the debut album by Kiss; and, to close the album, Rock and Roll Hell from their 10th album, Creatures of the Night (1982).

Including yourself among the 'origins' is something that only the founder of a band like Kiss can allow himself. It runs in the genes of superheroes. ‘Ace’ Frehley puts that right into practice on this ‘Volume 1’ of his memoirs; at 66 years old now, he doesn't put smoke bombs in his Tobacco Sunburst or have anything to prove when he straps on his guitar. It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll.

(Images: © Cordon Press /