SPV/Steamhammer [Release date 18.09.20]
Original Kiss guitarist Ace releases his ninth studio album and after the success of 2016’s Origins Vol 1 (which hit #23 in the Billboard 200), we get a Volume 2, and again it’s pretty damn good as cover albums go.
Before Vol1, Frehley had already put his stamp on the likes of ‘New York Groove’ and ‘Do Ya’, and since leaving Kiss he’s had that much more freedom to play with arrangements. And like Vol1, the tracks here are largely material Ace played in his pre-Kiss club daze, or were played by bands he shared the stage with.
The album kicks off with Led Zeppelin’s ‘Good Times Bad Times’ (their first US single) and according to the biog is aimed at those who have done Ace wrong. It’s a fine performance, solid, suitably moody with some bright vocal harmonies that almost nod at the Beach Boys, The structure’s good but Ace’s guitar is brighter and less bluesy so it’s a worthy cover.
Mountain’s Never In My Life is up next and sees the Space Man playing at his heaviest, and there’s some neat soloing in there too.
Another nice and worthy inclusion is Deep Purple’s ‘Space Truckin’. A little heavier, it’s more guitar oriented. Those used to the original may miss Gillan’s phrasing or the deft touches from Lord or Paice, but it’s close enough to the original while adding Frehley’s own stamp. And when the keyboards do come in, you have to admire the arrangement as well as the playing. Tracks by The Beatles (I’m Down) and The Rolling Stones (Jumpin’ Jack Flash – featuring Lita Ford) follow, all beefed up somewhat.
I love the take on the Kinks’ ‘Lola’, and Bruce Kulick makes an appearance on a fine take on Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’. The album closes with the Kiss classic’ She’, a track the band performed at their first show.
Aside the aforementioned Ford and Kulick, the album also features Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander amongst others.
What’s to love about this is that many of the songs are not obvious choices, there’s enough in the bass line arrangements to keep them close to the original, but enough difference in the guitar and keyboard to make them worth while. And on occasion Ace proves that he’s not only the master of the riff but can solo with the best too.
Ace has left Kiss the band long behind, but not forgotten the legacy, and this is as fine an album to rock out as any. Enjoy. ****
Review by Joe Geesin
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