Ace Frehley ‘Anomaly’ Label: Bronx Born Records Review by Bucky for Rock n Roll Universe
It was in the fall of ’89 there was a reason I remember it well… Ace Frehley no longer a member of Kiss & no longer under the moniker ‘Frehley’s Comet’ released ‘Trouble Walkin’’ which was his third album since leaving his space make-up behind.(There was also a 5 song E.P.)
Almost 20 years later to the date (Trouble Walkin’ was released 10/13/1989) Ace is back with his long awaited fourth album since leaving Kiss, ‘Anomaly’ on Bronx Born Records. There are a few options when purchasing the album: Best Buy’s version has a shiny metallic looking CD case, Wal-Mart (& other outlets) come with a tattoo & mini poster, & the digital download from Itunes has a bonus track called “The Return of the Space Bear” which is an instrumental track (It is actually the 8th track on the album called “Space Bear”) with sound clips of Ace from his classic appearance with Kiss on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show from 1979 spliced in.
The album kicks off with a heavy rocker called “Foxy & Free” which is a great song to start the album as it’s filled with a hard & heavy rhythm that revisits his 1978 solo album. Ace seems to tip his hat to Jimi Hendrix on this tune especially when he says “Look at…You’re a voodoo chile” just before he rips into a solo. The 2nd tune is his first single released from the album & it’s called “Outer Space”. “Outer Space “is another heavy hitter from the album with a pounding rhythm supplied by original Comet drummer Anton Fig & the driving bass line running through the song is driven by Ace. This is one of those songs that is meant to be cranked out of your car on the thruway with the windows wide open. Former Lynch Mob bassist Anthony Esposito starts off “Pain in the Neck” with a bass run that is met by a crunching rhythm. The song gets a bit strange half way through with some mellow guitars & yodeling by Scott Coogan but that is interrupted by a ripping solo by Ace. On Ace’s ‘Trouble Walkin’’ album he did an amazing cover of ELO’s “Do Ya” which musically & vocally sounded great. This time out Ace does a phenomenal cover of Sweet’s 1975 hit “Fox on the Run”. “Genghis Khan” features Ace & Anton Fig playing all the instruments & probably would have been better if it was just an instrumental as musically it’s my favorite track off the album but lyrically & vocally the song is brought down a notch or two. “Too Many Faces” is a good track that would’ve fit in great on ‘Psycho Circus’. “Change the World” is an easy going tune both lyrically & musically which has Ace reaching out to the world for a much needed change. The “Triple A’s” (Ace, Anthony, & Anton) shine on the Heavy instrumental track “Space Bear” which is a killer track. The autobiographical acoustic “A Little Below the Angels” is a great tune that sounds like something the late Johnny Thunders (ex-NY Dolls & Heartbreakers guitarist) would have wrote. This leads us to my favorite track on the album “Sister” which Ace has had kicking around for a long time (I remember hearing him play this in the clubs back in the early/mid 90’s & thinking it kicked ass back then).The song reminds me of a combination of “Breakout” (From the ‘Frehley’s Comet’ album) & “Shot Full of Rock” (from the ‘Trouble Walkin’ album). “It’s a Great Life” is a decent tune with a cool rhythm & solo which leads us to the album’s final track “Fractured Quantum”. Ace’s first solo album from 1978 ended with an instrumental called “Fractured Mirror” & he has also closed albums with “Fractured Too” & “Fractured III” instrumentals so “Fractured Quantum” is no surprise.
Anomaly means a departure from the normal & that is what Ace has always been about. If you're looking for normal stay clear of Ace because that's one thing he is not. I really enjoy the new album & I enjoy it more & more with each listen.
Kiss returned to Cleveland, OH for their 22nd show since 1975 in the “Forest City”. I live in Buffalo, NY & it’s a 2 ½ - 3 hour drive to Cleveland from Buffalo. We arrived at the venue about 5:30 PM & paid 25 bucks for parking. It was only about a minute walk from the car to the arena. I went to a restaurant across from the parking lot called “The Hairy Buffalo” for a bite to eat before the show & the food was great as was our waitress with the ripped black fishnet stockings. I’ve been to Cleveland 3 times in the past 6 years & the one thing I’ve always noticed is how friendly the people always are. As we waited for the doors to open for the show a couple of security guards came out a few times to let the crowd know how many minutes were left before we could enter the venue. The guards were very cool & after they’d make their announcements they’d mingle with the crowd. Finally, at about 7PM the doors opened & it was a mad rush to the Souvenir Stand. I bought a T-Shirt with a red Kiss logo & the four faces on the front & on the back it read: “I lost my mind in Cleveland Rock City”. Also, on the back it listed every date & venue that Kiss played in Cleveland since 1975 which is very cool. The main reason I was willing to take the trip was because the tickets we had were only $25.00. Our seats were supposed to be in the first row of the top level but the top level was closed off so our seats were changed to a lower level which was great.
I was looking forward to seeing Buckcherry open the show as I was somewhat familiar with them. They took the stage around 8PM & played for about 40 minutes which seemed to drag on forever. I was disappointed with the band & especially with the singer Josh Todd. He was covered with hard ass tattoos but he skipped & pranced around the stage & was just awful to watch. The rest of the band wasn’t bad, powerhouse drummer Xavier Muriel was a heavy hitter who really stood out but the two guitarists: Stevie D & Keith Nelson looked like they could’ve played in a low budget local Hanoi Rocks tribute band. No Kidding, Stevie D attempted to act like Andy McCoy & Nelson was trying to perform a dead on Nasty Suicide. The low point of their performance was a horrible rendition of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”. “All Lit Up” sounds much better on cd than live. ”Crazy Bitch” was kind of cool especially intertwining Billy Squier’s ”The Stroke” & the Ohio Players “Fire” in it.
By about 9:15PM the stage was set & classic rock tunes such as “The Boys are Back in Town”, “Ramble On”, & “Rock & Roll” blared through the P.A. The arena went dark & then…”CLEVELAND!!!! YOU wanted the BEST…YOU got the BEST …the hottest band in the world…KISSSSS!!!!” & the opening notes of “Deuce” rang through the arena as Kiss appeared on a stage full of fire & smoke. On the stage in the center was a huge Kiss logo that was lit up & Eric Singer’s drum kit was set on top of the logo. A huge screen was in back just above Eric & his drums & off to both sides of the huge logo (also running underneath the huge screen) was about 40 visual monitors. The band was full of energy as Gene, Paul, & Tommy rocked back & forth to the ending jam of the opening tune. Without a break Eric Singer pounded out the drum intro to “Strutter” from their 1974 debut album & the band rocked on. Afterwards, Paul Stanley acknowledged the crowd & started talking about all of the different venues Kiss played in Cleveland since the band’s existence. The band seemed to be sticking to the format of their 1975 ‘Kiss Alive’ album by ripping into “Got to Choose”. The next song began for a split second & the power cut out. Once the drums kicked in, the power was restored & the song they were playing was “Let Me Go Rock & Roll”(which was actually the last song on ‘Kiss Alive’) & the band sounded great. Paul announced that the next song was “Classic Kiss” & said that Kiss music doesn’t have to be old to be classic. The band launched into “Modern Day Delilah” from their upcoming ‘Sonic Boom’ album. The song did sound like “Classic Kiss” & the crowd responded positively to the new tune. Paul got the crowd on their feet by saying that if you want to be quiet, to go sit in front of your TV & watch Melrose Place. The band then went into “Hotter than Hell” & at the ending, sirens began blaring & out to the center of the stage walked Gene Simmons to perform his fire breathing act. Paul announced the next song was going to be sung by Eric who sang “Nothin’ to Lose” from the Kiss debut album. Continuing once again with the ‘Kiss Alive’ format, Kiss played the entire side 2 consisting of “Nothing to Lose”, “C’mon & Love Me”, “Parasite”, & “She”. “She” featured a guitar solo by Tommy Thayer which he added distorted notes of “Beethoven’s Fifth” while shooting fireworks out of the neck of his guitar. Next was side 3 of ‘Kiss Alive’ in its entirety featuring “Watchin’ You”, “100,000 Years”, & “Black Diamond”. “100,000 Years” featured an Eric Singer drum solo with his drum kit revolving but surprisingly no Gene Simmons bass solo or Blood-spitting before the tune. The band finished “Black Diamond” with its usual explosive ending & went right into the Rock & Roll national anthem…”Rock & Roll All Nite”. The ending featured confetti flying from four different spots in the arena as 3 hydraulic lifts lifted Gene Paul & Tommy above the stage & Paul smashed his guitar on the lift. For the encore Paul said they were going to do things different. Instead of playing one encore & running off stage & then come back up for another they were going to play one long encore. The crowd was on their feet as Kiss rocked out to their anthem from the ‘Destroyer’ album “Shout it Out Loud”. “Lick it Up” was up next & Tommy & Paul exchanged guitar parts of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in the middle of the 1983 Kiss classic. The stage went dark for a couple of seconds & at the center of the stage Gene Simmons began his bass solo featuring his Blood-spitting act. He flew to the top of a lighting rig above the stage & sang “I Love it Loud” from 1982’s ‘Creatures of the Night’. The long time regular concert staple “Cold Gin” was up next followed by “Love Gun” which had Paul fly to a platform at the rear of the arena. The band closed the night with their 6th song of the encore set which was “Detroit Rock City”.
Once again, Kiss proved why they are the “Hottest Band in the World” & what was great about the show besides their explosive performance was seeing fans of all ages throwing their fists in the air singing along with every tune. Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer were great which helped make this a complete Kiss show. By the looks of the crowd a large number probably never witnessed an Ace Frehley solo where he shot fireworks from his guitar or a Peter Criss drum solo. Of course it would be great if Ace & Peter were still there but they’re not. Tommy, Eric, Gene, & Paul are here to give us all a Kiss show which is just what they did.
Kiss ‘Sonic Boom’ Label: Kiss Records Review by Bucky
In December of 1976 I received my first Kiss album: Kiss “Rock & Roll Over” as a Christmas gift from one of my sisters. The only Kiss songs I was familiar with at the time were “Beth” & “Rock & Roll All Nite” & I had no idea what the band was all about. The artwork on ‘Rock & Roll Over’ amazed me & the music on the record blew me away. I was hooked on that first listen & the cover had me intrigued to find out more about the band. By June of 1977 I was a freak that bought every magazine & poster I could find with Kiss. During that month radio commercials were plugging the new album ‘Love Gun’ by Kiss which was to be released on June 30th. Teasers of “Love Gun”, “Hooligan”, “Christine 16”, & “Shock Me” blared through the airwaves during the 30 second commercials & June 30th couldn’t arrive fast enough. Finally, the day had arrived & I took the money I had from my 8th grade graduation to Cavages Record Store at a local mall where I purchased ‘Love Gun’ & ‘The Originals’(I already had the first 3 albums but I wanted ‘The Originals’ for the extra memorabilia that was included). ‘Love Gun’ sounded incredible from beginning to end & I probably listened to that album 5 times that day. By the end of that first day I knew every song all the way through. Little did I know that this day would be repeated 32 years later.
When word leaked out earlier this year that Kiss would be releasing a new studio album with their current line-up featuring Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer, & Tommy Thayer I was psyched. As the release date of October 6th grew closer more info on the album was being released & a tour was set to coincide with the release of the new album. A new song by the band titled “Modern Day Delilah” appeared on the official Kiss website www.kissonline.com & the heavy rocker was a bit of a teaser from ‘Sonic Boom’. The band began including “Modern Day Delilah” in their set list which Paul Stanley introduced as “Classic Kiss” stating that it doesn’t have to be old to be classic.The new album was to be released exclusively through Wal-Mart & would include 2 bonus discs along with ‘Sonic Boom’ (one CD of a Best of Kiss with all of their classics reworked by the current line-up & a DVD with 6 songs recorded live from April of 2009). Wal-Mart stores were to set up a “Kiss Korner” featuring the new album along with various merchandise including T-Shirts, Blankets, M & M’s, Trading Cards, & Kiss Mr. Potatohead dolls. With all the hype surrounding the new album I felt as I did 32 years earlier but instead of my Mom rolling her eyes at me it was my wife!
“Modern Day Delilah” kicks off ‘Sonic Boom’ with a heavy style that revisits 1982’s ‘Creatures of the Night’ in the same vein as “Creatures of the Night” & “Keep Me Coming”. The tune has a great line that goes “…Just like the trigger on a loaded gun…you were the reason for the damage done…”. “Russian Roulette” continues the heavy rock assault with some great bass runs by Gene Simmons. Simmons borrows a line from “Burn Bitch Burn” from 1984’s ‘Animalize’ album as he sings “…out of the frying pan & into the fire…” The tune has a hard driving melody that leads into the chorus (which the chorus reminds me a bit of Gene’s “Burning Up with Fever” from his 1978 solo album). Tommy Thayer rips a fiery solo that screams classic Kiss. “Never Enough” is a great hard rock/ pop tune that borrows from so many different bands that it’s destined to be a hit. I hear bits of The Raspberries, Whitesnake, Poison, Free, & Grand Funk all blended with a classic Kiss sound. “Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)” is cool rock & roll tune that is a typical Gene Simmons composition built around his sense of humor. “Stand” is a hard rocking anthem tune sung by both Gene & Paul with a sing along chorus that has a 1988 hair band Monster Ballad feel to it. Once again Tommy’s lead work really stands out on this tune but then again I can say that about every tune on ‘Sonic Boom’ as the tone of his lead solos is near perfect sounding. The first chord of “Hot & Cold” followed by a few notes & a loud “Oh Yeah!” made me think of “Cold Gin” for a couple of seconds but then the rocker had the feel of Kiss’ “Got Love For Sale” & “Rockin’ in the U.S.A.”. When Kiss ‘Love Gun’ was released in 1977 it was the first time all four members each sang lead vocals on a Kiss album. 32 years later, all 4 current members sing lead vocals on ‘Sonic Boom’ & with his raspy voice drummer Eric Singer sings lead vocals on the inspirational anthem from the album “All for the Glory”. The highlight takes place at around the 2 minute mark where Eric lets out a grizzled scream & Tommy Bursts into an earsplitting solo. “Danger Us” starts out a bit like “Domino” off their 1992 ‘Revenge’ album but then rocks out in a heavy rock style complete with a catchy melody that will hook you in. “I’m an Animal” is the heaviest sounding tune on the album which has a cool groove & a great riff. My favorite tune on the album is “When Lightning Strikes” which features lead guitarist Tommy Thayer on lead vocals & it’s a hard rocking tune with a great hook that will kick your ass. ‘Sonic Boom’ closes with a late 80’s sounding rocker called “Say Yeah” which will have you singing “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” by the end of your first listen.
The first bonus disc is titled ‘Kiss Klassics’ & was originally released as a Japan exclusive called ‘Jigoku – Retsuden” in August of 2008. The CD features 15 Kiss tunes reworked with the current line-up. All of the classics are here including “Shout it Out Loud”, “Rock & Roll All Nite”,”Heaven’s on Fire”, “Lick it Up”, “Love Gun”,” Detroit Rock City”,” Calling Dr. Love”, “Hotter Than Hell”, & “Forever”. For the most part all of the songs are pretty close to the original versions but I prefer the new reworked version of the famous Kiss concert opener “Deuce” to the version from their 1974 self titled debut album. The new version of “Deuce” is played with the same energy as the ‘Kiss Alive’ version. The bonus DVD is 6 songs from Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 5, 2009 & the songs featured on the DVD are “Deuce”, “Hotter Than Hell”, “C’mon & Love Me”, “Watchin’ You”, “100,000 Years”, & “Rock & Roll All Nite”.
Overall, I love everything about ‘Sonic Boom’ & the new tunes stuck with me after the first day just like ‘Love Gun’ did in 1977. I listened to the album 4 times that first day & I like it more & more each time I listen to it. The album including the 2 bonus discs was only 12 dollars so it is definitely worth the price. The hottest band in the world is back.