As a huge KISS fan, I’m always paying attention to what the members, both past and present, are working on. Ace Frehley especially has rarely disappointed me with his solo work, and he’s definitely not starting now. Origins Vol. 1 is a less than two year follow up to his previous release Space Invader which seemed to be a huge hit among Spaceman fans everywhere- and in an interview with Eddie Trunk (on ‘Trunk Nation’) Frehley mentions that the idea for a covers album was purely the record company who were nervous that he may not finish Space Invader. In less than two years we’ve gotten to hear two new Ace albums, and luckily both have been great.
Ace has been notorious for covers ever since his cover of “New York Groove” on the 1978 solo album- and there has been at least one cover on every subsequent Ace Frehley album since. I’ve been a big fan of his covers simply due to the fact that he never does them exactly the way they were done originally, which in my opinion is the way covers should be done.
Looking at Origins Vol. 1, the track listing can be easily predicted by any KISS fan who is familiar with Ace. However, I feel that that’s the entire point of this album- to see where his musical interest began. On top of the classic rock track list, the guests Ace has on this record are stellar. He’s got Slash, John 5, Lita Ford, and more- however the most iconic to most people would be the small reunion between him and former band mate Paul Stanley. I will admit, the reconciliation I saw between the two sparked some hope for a KISS reunion, and although that dream remains unlikely, it’s still great to hear the magic that the duo used to create back in to 70’s on a record in 2016. Vocally, there are a few times where things seem a little ‘eh’. His voice has always been quite eccentric and very unique which is why when I hear what any vocal coach would call ‘mistakes’, I just think of it as Ace’s norm. Although his distinct vocal tone may not necessarily fit the style of every song, he somehow makes most of it work which will always impress me.
The final thing that really took me by surprise is that he redid KISS songs, including one that was released when he wasn’t even in the band. “Cold Gin” and “Parasite” are some of my favorite 70’s era KISS songs, and it’s great hearing Ace sing the songs he wrote with the self assurance that he may have lacked back in the day. However, it’s increasingly interesting hearing him cover “Rock and Roll Hell” off of 1982’s Creatures of the Night considering the only thing ‘Ace’ related to that record is his face on the cover. This is another thing that sparked a ‘what if’ in my mind, and made me think of how different Creatures of the Night could have been had Ace been on guitar.
Origins Vol. 1 is a great record- in the simplest terms it is just very Ace Frehley. It keys you into his musical influences if you didn’t know them already, and he finesses each song with his iconic voice, playing and his star studded guest list.