Kiss – ‘Ace Frehley’ (1978) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

When we think of the Kiss Solo albums, we really only have Ace to blame.  Ace was not happy with the band and he wanted to do a side project, but to keep the peace, the idea was floated out there that each member of the band do a solo album and they were all to be released under the Kiss moniker and all on the same day.  A feat never done again by Kiss or any other band and there is a reason for that.  No one can afford all albums at once and not every band member is created equally as Ace proved here.

Ace Frehley’s solo album had the best producer of the four, Eddie Kramer, and it was the one that sounded the most like Kiss.  In the case of the solo albums, this is a Win-Win for Ace!  Ace didn’t deviate from the Kiss sound at all.  In fact, I think he refined it and made it even better.  This would only boost his confidence even more and drive that ego to hit the stratosphere as problems would continue from here on in for Ace and Kiss.  Between his issues and Peter’s, things were about to get dicey.  Enough about that, and back to the solo albums.

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Ace also had a great band behind him for this album.  Okay, not really a band, it was mostly just Anton Fig on drums and he was a huge part of the sound of this album.  Anton in fact, went on to work with Kiss for both Dynasty and Unmasked as Peter wasn’t up to snuff to perform fully on those albums (if at all, cough, cough) – more on that in the next reviews.  Anton would also go on to work with Ace again as a member of the band Frehley’s comet (more on that as a bonus edition down the road).  Ace handled all the guitar work and some of the bass, but Will Lee came in and did the bass on three songs.  For the most part, it was Ace and Anton.

As far as my Ace album goes, I had none of the inserts such as the merchandise order form or the song credit insert, but I did have the album sleeve with the Kiss Solo album pictures as seen below.

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And like ALL my other solo albums, this one has the coveted poster as well…

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And now the puzzle is complete with all four solo album posters…So Cool!!!

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Have you ever looked and studied the back of the Solo albums? I thought I had, but recently noticed something different on Ace’s album that is not on any of the other members solo album.  Ace actually signed his, none of the other guys did that.  I think that was a nice little touch that the other guys missed out on.  Now Gene’s might not have had any room on the back of his, but it is still a surprise that one would be different than the others like that.

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Is that enough chit-chat for you?  I hope so because now it is time for the music…

SIDE 1:

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The opening track, “Rip It Out”, is bombastic and has a massive sound.  Guitar riffs galore and a drum sound by Anton Fig that was so huge and filled the song with the punch it needed. It is my favorite drum sound on any of the Kiss albums until Creatures comes along with Eric Carr.  Not to be overshadowed, Ace lays down a classic solo and opens the album like none of the other albums had been done.  Ace threw down the gauntlet and showed that He is someone to be noticed!

“Speedin’ Back to My Baby” is more guitar, guitar and then some guitar!  The party doesn’t slow down and Eddie Kramer is bringing out the best of Ace both vocally and that guitar.  Not only does the song open with a solo, there is another solo in the middle with a cool break right before it.  It is like solo on top of solo.  The song’s energy matches the title.  The song was co-written by Ace and Jeanette Frehley which I guess he was speedin’ back to her.

When I heard the title to the next track, I was already a fan.  “Snow Blind” was it and with my last name Snow, how could I not like this one before I even heard it.  It had a heavier, darker groove and a slow chugging rhythm that felt like it was grinding your bones.  There was a cool little electronic drum roll sound and Anton’s drumming was hard and heavy as well.  Now, of course the song is pretty much a drug reference as I am sure the dust was flying while the album was being made.

“Ozone” had an almost spacey, atmospheric feel to it and being it was the Spaceman and the Ozone, it had to have that feel.  It had a similar groove to “Snow Blind” and another really cool riff that you could almost sing to.  It was a much slower tempo and it felt like it had a point to get across.  Lyrics were delivered with purpose and in a way that matched step for step that slow groove which was a nice touch as the two together felt like they were one. Now this was probably two drug references in a row with Ace, I wonder where his mind was at the time…hmmm!

Side 1 ended with “What’s On Your Mind?” which was more of a pop song that still kept its rock & roll elements. It felt a little fun, a little light and it was catchy as hell.  Not the best song of the album, but it still works and you know probably would’ve worked on Paul’s album as well.

SIDE 2:

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Side 2 opens with a cover song, “New York Groove”, by the band Hello and written by Russ Ballard.  This was the single off the album and became a massive hit for Ace and really became his signature song.  Ace knew Russ from when Kiss opened for Argent back in the day and has worked with Russ numerous times since.  For Ace, this is a personal Anthem since he is from New York and he helped perpetuate the myth that he wrote the song even though we know he didn’t.  Ace’s version has some differences from the original including the hand-clapping sound of the original was more of a foot-stomping sound and the harmonica riff was replaced by guitar…well duh.  With surprisingly no guitar solo like you would expect with Ace, the song kept relatively close to the original.  It is a wonderful tune and the biggest hit of all the solo albums going to #13 on the Billboard charts.  This must have driven Gene crazy!!!

“I’m In Need of Love” is back to the rock and reminds of “Shock Me” with its guitar riffs and tone.  The slow grinding groove turns in to a speedy, unbelievable solo that turns the tempo up a notch and Ace shines a light so bright with his playing.  The echo off the one riff gives the song a spacey feel to it that only Ace can bring.

Anton Fig gets in on the writing credits with Ace on “Wiped-Out” which is an almost rock & roll beach song a la Beach Boys and if they were metal.  It was the craziest song of the bunch and yet it was so much fun with that gritty, dirty, distorted, nasty ass guitar riff right in front of the chorus.  Ace was getting good with the drug songs and this one was no exception.  This song needs to be played at a party with a Keg flowing freely for everyone!!

The closing song was “Fractured Mirror”  which was an instrumental piece.  Ace showed that he was a technical guitarist and that he had the chops to hang with the best.  From the opening bells of the song, the opening guitar riff and throughout the beautiful melodies he created to the ending of that same opening guitar riff, Ace delivered a masterpiece that all his other instrumentals would be compared against.  Sadly, all were good, but none were this good.  He isn’t show boating or showing how fast he can shred, Ace was performing a true song that felt like it had a beginning, a middle and an end.  The song feels reflective and it feels like you are traveling through space or something other-worldly.  It was a song, only the guitar was the vocals taking you on this journey that you will always remember.

Track Listing:

  1. Rip It Out – Keeper
  2. Speedin’ Back to My Baby – Keeper
  3. Snow Blind – Keeper
  4. Ozone – Keeper
  5. What’s On Your Mind? – Keeper
  6. New York Groove – Keeper
  7. I’m in Need of Love – Keeper
  8. Wiped-Out – Keeper
  9. Fractured Mirror – Keeper

The Track Score is simple, 9 out of 9 or 100%.  There is nothing wrong with any one of these songs, won’t skip, delete or anything other than listen to them.  Ace was lucky enough to score Eddie Kramer before any one else could grab him and Eddie sculpted and molded Ace in to a Rock God with this album.  If you weren’t an Ace fan before this album, you definitely were after.  This is why Ace influenced so many guitarists that came after him.  Everyone wanted to be Ace.  Ace delivered the best solo album of the bunch, with Paul a very close second, then Gene and sadly Peter (someone had to come in last).  Ace stayed true to the rock sound and the Kiss sound and stayed true to who he was like all the other members actually did. The big exception is people want the Kiss sound as the name at the top left corner does say KISS!!  I will give this one a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars as if there was any doubt!!

The problem with Ace’s solo album was that his confidence was now sky high.  It did lead to more songs on Kiss albums, but it also lead to more problems within Kiss and would lead to him wanting to do his own thing as that was more fulfilling for him to be front and center.  These solo albums were fun, but with Peter and Ace, it was the beginning of the end for Kiss as we knew them.

Next Up: Kiss – ‘Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park’ (1978) – Movie Review

Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!

The Kiss Review Series:

  1. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  2. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
  3. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  4. Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
  5. Kiss – Alive! (1975)
  6. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
  7. Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  8. Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
  9. Kiss – The Originals (1976)
  10. Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
  11. Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
  12. Kiss – Alive II (1977)
  13. Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
  14. Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
  15. Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
  16. Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
  17. Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)

The Bootleg Series:

  1. Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
  2. Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
  3. Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
  4. Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
  5. Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
  6. Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
  7. Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
  8. Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
  9. Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
  10. Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
  11. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
  12. Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
  13. Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
  14. Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
  15. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)

Kiss – The Box Set:

Gene Simmons – The Vault:

32 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘Ace Frehley’ (1978) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

  1. Solid album from start to finish. Ace always delivers the goods with his songs that would appear on the KISS albums credited to him as a writer. With this success there was no stopping him now!
    Great stuff John. I really dig seeing how that poster was supposed to look like finished. Never realized that about the Ace signature on the back either!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Deke! I think the poster puzzle was my favorite part and a cool way to link the albums. I had never noticed that Ace signature either until someone posted about it on the Kiss My Wax Facebook page. I went and looked and sure enough they were right.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ace’s is the best of the solo efforts and the most KISS-like for sure. I listen to Gene’s and Peter’s more though. I think I just like how different/weird they are. But Ace’s is such a cool album and I love how much he proved his worth with it. It’s a feelgood story!

    Liked by 1 person

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