After Ace Frehley left Kiss in 1982, it took him awhile to get going on a solo project. Where Peter had a solo album out within a year of leaving Kiss (if not sooner), it took Ace 5 years before his first bit of music was released. There was a reason for that. When Ace left Kiss, he still maintained a 1/4 share in the band and was not able to release anything until at least 1985. He basically had a non-compete contract for a limited time. However, around 1984, he did start piecing together a band and of course he started with drummer Anton Fig. Anton had played on Ace’s 1978 solo album and had done a few things with Kiss as well on some of their records. After Anton, he recruited John Regan on bass and Richie Scarlett on guitar and vocals. Ace now had a band.
The band recorded some demos in 1984-85 with famed producer Eddie Kramer, who had produced Ace’s 1978 solo album as well as other Kiss album, and actually played their first live show on November 30, 1984. He wasn’t releasing any music yet, so not breaking his contract. The band played some more in 1985, but in the end, Richie Scarlett wanted to pursue his own solo career and left the band. Not a good start so far.
Ace was then able to find Tod Howarth and he brought him on board to help with vocals and guitar. Tod was most notable for being in the band 707 and their album Mega Force. Now the band was complete yet again, they now needed a label and they got one with a label coincidentally called Megaforce. Naturally, Ace brought Eddie Kramer back in to co-produce the band’s debut album. The two of them put out a great solo album for Ace back in 1978 so anticipation of what was to come was really high with this one.
The album was finally released on April 27, 1987 and did fairly well reaching #43 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart. The bad thing for Ace was timing. 1987 saw some of Rock’s biggest albums ever with Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’, Whitesnake’s ‘1987’, and Guns ‘n Roses’ ‘Appetite for Destruction’. It was hard to get noticed if you were not one of those albums. Still the album was great and to this day I am not sure why we have a proboscis monkey on the album sleeve. Or as I like to call them, the Jimmy Durante monkey. If you don’t know who Jimmy Durante is, Well…ha cha cha!
Now I could go through Ace’s full history of what happened between leaving Kiss and this album, but we are really here for the music, so we might as well get to it.
The first track is all about Ace called “Rock Soldiers”. It is an autobiographical song inspired by a police chase had back in 1982 while he was driving his DeLorean. Now, I would say he was trying to get his flux capacitor up to 88 mph, but that movie didn’t come out until a few years later. Ace takes the vocals on this one and does some great guitar playing. It was a hard rocking track and yes, “Ace was back in control of his soul”. It was a great way to introduce the world to solo Ace and it was everything an Ace fan wanted to hear.
The next track up is “Breakout” with Tod Howarth on vocals. The song was written by Ace, Richie Scarlett and current Kiss drummer at the time, Eric Carr. The song was from the ‘Music from the Elder’ album that was not used and Kiss did release it years later on ‘Revenge’ but as an instrumental called ‘Carr Jam 1981’ as that was what was originally recorded. If you listen to the song, you can definitely hear Carr Jam. Anyway, the song opens with a crash and a cartoon scream and other effects before kicking in to the heavy drumming, handled here by Anton. Tod sounds really great on this song as his voice is a nice change from Ace’s as it is more smooth and can carry a tune better. The highlight is definitely the drumming and as usual, Ace’s playing. One of my favorite songs on the album and from this era of Ace.
The band’s only single on this album was the Russ Ballard penned “Into the Night”. Ace had a huge hit with Russ’ other song “New York Groove” so why not try and re-create that magic. The song was a minor hit reaching #27 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock chart. This is the second Ace sung song on the album. This to me does have the same vine a “New York Groove” with more great riffs, but Ace really sounds great here. His lyric delivery is intense, serious and he sounds like he is giving it his all. So far, 3 for 3 on this album.
Then we get the only Howarth penned track called “Something Moved”. Tod, of course, handles the vocals and the song opens with an eerie, howler monkey type scream (again with the monkeys). It is a rocking track and with Tod’s vocals it is an extremely radio-friendly track and should’ve probably been released as a single. There is a little synthesizer in the mix, but still completely guitar driven. The song is a little scary sounding in the lyrics and a video for this could’ve been great if they stuck with that theme. Another stellar track.
The first side ends with a banging rocker track called “We Got Your Rock” and is another sort of cover. The song was co-written by Marty Kupersmith and the song had been recorded in 1985 by the band SIN. Ace took the song, did a few re-writes and added his name to the songwriting credits. It is a heavy, anthemic rock song. It is a little nasty sounding, raw, rough around the edges and the guitar playing is all Ace. It take side one and makes it a perfect 5 for 5 and by this time, I was totally loving this album.
Side Two kicks off with more Ace and the song “Love Me Right”. It isn’t a ballad, but it isn’t as heavy as the other songs he’d done so far. It is not the best song on the album, but it still pretty damn good. It has the classic Ace guitar sound which is what we want anyway.
“Calling to You” is a song Tod brought with him from his band 707. It is actually the song “Mega Force” which the band recorded in 1982. Ace re-wrote the lyrics and as a result, Jonathan Cain’s writing credit was removed because he apparently wrote the lyrics on the original. That is two Kiss reviews in a row with Jonathan Cain mentioned, interesting. This is the weakest of the 3 Howarth songs I think. It is too pop heavy and less hard rock. I don’t like Tod’s vocals and overall, the production seems lacking as the song isn’t as clean and polished as it should be.
For the rest of the album, it is Ace on vocals and it starts off with one of the weirdest, creepiest songs Ace has ever done. The song is called “Dolls” and it starts off with a synthesizer instead of guitar and it talks about collecting and playing with Dolls…yes, actual dolls. The drum sound reminds me of “Fractured Mirror” with the tapping. The song is so strange that I secretly love it. I don’t get it at all, but not sure I’m supposed to and that is the beauty of it. Are the dolls a reference to drugs? Probably, but I don’t care, it is still weirdly awesome.
Then we get “Stranger in a Strange Land” which is my least favorite song on the album. It feels like pure filler and a throwaway track. There is no real heart to it and leaves me bored.
Thankfully he ends with what would become a trend, an instrumental track. This one was called “Fractured Too” a continuation of “Fractured Mirror” from his 1978 solo album. If you haven’t noticed he and Eddie Kramer tried to repeat a lot of what they thought was successful from that album. Not a bad idea, but not totally necessary either. Aside from that, I love this track as it has the essence of beauty of the original and takes it another step further. Still not as good as the original, but I am sucker for these pieces from Ace. Keep em Coming. On a side note, bassist, John Regan, also contributed to the song and got his only writing credit on the album.
- Rock Soldiers – Keeper
- Breakout – Keeper
- Into the Night – Keeper
- Something Moved – Keeper
- We Got Your Rock – Keeper
- Love Me Right – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Calling To You – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Dolls – Keeper
- Stranger in a Strange Land – Delete
- Fractured Too (Instrumental) – Keeper
The Track Score is 8 out of 10 or 80% which is a great start for Ace. It was way better than Peter’s first attempt and actually better than any of the other members side projects we have highlighted so far. Overall, the album get s a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. Ace delivered the album we all wanted to hear. I think we would’ve liked it to have been all Ace, but Tod Howarth gave us some great songs and made this more of a band album which isn’t a bad thing. I wish more would’ve come from this band instead of 2 studio albums and a live e.p. But Ace wasn’t in any shape to make that happen. He still hadn’t beat his demons yet. That eventually would come, but not for quite a long time.
And now back to the regular programming with Kiss!! At least until the next former member piece.
Next Up: Kiss – Exposed (1987)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
The Kiss Review Series:
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Kiss (1974)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
- Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
- Kiss – Alive! (1975)
- Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
- Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
- Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
- Kiss – The Originals (1976)
- Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
- Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
- Kiss – Alive II (1977)
- Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
- Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
- Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
- Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
- Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
- Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
- Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
- Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
- Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
- Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
- Kiss – Killers (1982)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
- Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
- Kiss – Animalize (1984)
- Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
- Kiss – Asylum (1985)
- Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
- Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
- Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
- Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
- Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
- Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
Kiss – The Box Set:
- The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)
Gene Simmons – The Vault:
- Part 1 – The Grand Opening
- Part 2 – Disk 1
- Part 3 – Disk 2
- Part 4 – Disk 3
- Part 5 – Disk 4
- Part 6 – Disk 5
- Part 7 – Disk 6
- Part 8 – Disk 7
- Part 9 – Disk 8
- Part 10 – Disk 9
- Part 11 – Disk 10
- Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
- Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
- Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
- Part 15 – The Final Verdict