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Ace Frehley – Origins Vol. 2 Award winner

Ace Frehley
Origins Vol. 2
by Gary Hernandez at 18 September 2020, 8:27 AM

I was 11 years old when I heard my first KISS album. That would be 1975. It was a brand-new album, “Dressed To Kill.” That’s right, I heard “Dressed To Kill” when it was new, making me as old as that obelisk on “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In fact, I was the third monkey from the right. From those early days and those glorious first four KISS albums, it was a downward spiral leading to me to bands like BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, MONTROSE and later to the great dawning of NWOBHM and then, like Dante, I was way lost on a dark, dark road in a dark, dark wood. But unlike him, I stayed lost and liked it. Out of that original and best KISS lineup, it was Ace Frehley who I idolized the most. Spin forward a few score years and I’m having the surrealistic experience of reviewing Ace’s latest album, “Origins Vol. 2,” which hits on September 18, 2020.

There are two ways to approach this album. One is to gravitate toward the songs that you liked in their original format. I think this is how most people approach covers. Have you ever heard DEVON TOWNSEND’s cover of “Sinner”? SEVEN WITCHES doing “The Chain”? ANTHRAX, “Parasite”? Man, I love the originals but I also love the covers. The other way, which is perhaps more interesting, is to approach the songs with the question: Why this song? What was happening in the artist’s life that led them back to this song? With “Origins Vol. 2,” both approaches payoff.

Let’s start with approach number one. This will serve double duty of highlighting my favorite tracks. First, of course, is “Good Times, Bad Times.” If you got a fever for some cowbells, this track is the cure. There’s a reason it’s the first track on the album (apart from the homage given to LED ZEPPELIN by the fact that it’s also the first track on “Led Zeppelin I”). From the drums that will rattle your spine, to the bass that is just too groovy, to the searing guitar licks and lead solos, this song rocks. In my number two slot is “Space Truckin’.” I mean DEEP PURPLE . . . Ace and Space (perfect pairing, btw) . . . friggin’ Hammond keyboards . . . awesome supporting video. This song is just too much fun.

Next on my standout list is “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with Lita Ford on vocals and guitar. I kind of wish they would have done “American Nights” by the RUNAWAYS, but I get it, these are Ace’s picks not mine. I mean, no one called. Of course, “Lola” also made my list. “Lola” makes everyone’s list. It’s everyone’s favorite song whether they want to admit it or not. Guest artist? I think that’s Lara, Ace’s girlfriend who provides some backing vocals on “Good Times, Bad Times.”

Also on my list is “30 Days In The Hole” featuring CHEAP TRICK’s Robin Zander. Honestly, I was surprised it was him. I didn’t think he had the chops, but I was ever so wrong. He’s no Steve Marriott, but that’s okay. He brings his own knack to this song. It’s by far my favorite track on the album. And rounding out my list is the bonus track, “She,” from KISS’s third album, “Dressed To Kill.” If someone would have called, I might have suggested “Strange Ways,” but “She” is a great pick as well. I love the lead guitar work — classic Ace — and the last minute, five seconds are just killer.
Approach two: Finding out why Ace chose these songs is like watching a really cool Rock documentary. I won’t summarize those stories here for several reasons. 1) You can read them in the album’s liner notes, probably. I’m just guessing that would be a feature of the album. 2) You can search online and find them in maybe two minutes. 3) Word count limit and I need to get some sleep sometime.

Now, let’s go back to my theory, that one about there being two ways to approach this album. Here’s the thing — those songs that you’re drawn to are likely songs that influenced you, songs that you can tell stories about. The fact is with “Origins Vol. 2” you kind of get two origins, yours and Ace’s. I think that’s cool. You probably guessed my take on this album after reading my own origin story in paragraph one. There is no way I can’t love it. If you’re a fan of Ace Frehley, KISS, the ‘70s, or Hard Rock, I’m thinking you’ll love it too.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Good Times, Bad Times (Originally by LED ZEPPELIN)
2. Never In My Life (Originally by MOUNTAIN)
3. Space Truckin (Originally by DEEP PURPLE)
4. I’m Down (feat. John 5) (Originally by the BEATLES)
5. Jumpin’ Jack Flash (feat. Lita Ford) (Originally by the ROLLING STONES)
6. Politician (feat. John 5) (Originally by CREAM)
7. Lola (Originally by the KINKS)
8. 30 Days In The Hole (feat. Robin Zander) (Originally by HUMBLE PIE)
9. Manic Depression (feat. Bruce Kulick) (Originally by the JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE)
10. Kicks (Originally by PAUL REVERE AND THE RAIDERS)
11. We Gotta Get Out Of This Place (Originally by the ANIMALS)
12. She (Bonus track) (Originally by KISS
Ace Frehley – Vocals, Guitar
Jeremy Asbrock – Guitar
Ryan Spencer Cook – Guitar
Philip Shouse – Bass
Matt Starr – Drums
John 5 – Guitar
Lita Ford – Guitar, Vocals
Robin Zander – Vocals
Rob Sabino – Keyboard
Bruce Kulick – Guitar
Record Label: SPV / Steamhammer


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Edited 23 October 2020

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