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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Return of the Space Man

After the release of Chinese Democracy, giving an album the build up of “Twenty Years In The Making” is no longer something to get excited about. After all, it is also a good twenty plus years since the likes of Aerosmith and Motley Crue have made a note of music worth listening too, whilst Kiss are coming up on the 30th Anniversary of their last credible album. So when news arrived that Ace Frehely, the world’s coolest living guitarist (OK, joint coolest with Joe Perry) was about to release an album, I must admit to being a little concerned. Despite being on the payroll of the $immon$tanley empire for so many years, Ace never stuck me as being in it for the money (in it for the sex, drugs and booze, but not the cash) so it was safe to assume it was not going to be a cliché laden cash-in on the hype for the forthcoming Kiss release, but since his last outing and given Ace’s gloriously eccentric persona I must confess to expecting something either seriously weird or self indulgent. And what did we get? Thankfully neither. What we got was “Anomaly”, a great, honest classic rock album.

The fact that on ‘Anomaly’ Ace delivers more than just a few moments of classic era Kiss only ever stands as a huge fun filled testament to Ace’s importance to the likes of Rock & Roll Over and Destroyer than any stale attempt to rehash the past. But make an effort get past the inevitable comparisons with his own history and after a couple of listens you are rewarded when Ace’s real influences start to emerge – not least in his frequent trips to the sounds of his native New York. Ace comes on like a smiling incarnation of Lou Reed on a number of occasions, not least on “Change The World” which sounds like Reed on the Prozac jamming with XTC. The ghost of Johnny Thunders drifts around “A Little Below the Angels”, a song about Ace’s rocky past, that in the hands of just about any other 12 Stepping rock star would have been unbearably cloying, yet Ace delivers it with a charm and sense of humour that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy rather than nauseous and preached at.

Had the riff and chorus of “Too Many Faces” appeared on a Foo Fighters album the world’s music press would be proclaiming is as a master at work. The opening bars to “Pain In The Neck” sound like something Billy Duffy could have stolen from Alice Cooper, but far from sounding dated or overtly influenced, emanating from Ace’s smoking Les Paul, it all sounds real, fresh and like a true pioneer reminding the world that rather than being inspired by, he has done more than his fair share of inspiring.

“Fox on the Run” though is nothing short of a classic. Covers are always a tricky thing to pull off, but Ace does it by evoking his Space Ace past, gives it the 3 minute pop edge that could just have easily been delivered by Cheap Trick, before throwing in that sing along chorus that if you didn’t know any better you’d swear was The Sweet themselves and the result is a truly glorious radio friendly smasher that in a perfect world would signal a full scale 70s glam revival.

OK, so there is a little weirdness (“Return of the Space Bear”) but nothing remotely self-indulgent. It is as if for the last 20 years Ace has been happy to leave the music to the kids to do for themselves, but having seen them try and fail as well as watching many of his contemporaries embarrass themselves, he has said “enough is enough” and decided to step back onto the stage to show them just how it should be done –

20 years is a long time to wait, but for once such a wait was well worth it, just please don’t leave it so long next time Ace.

As a side note, given that the super deluxe space pyramid CD case version of Anomaly is only going to be available over here in the UK on import for £25 ($40) it is either a trip to iTunes or a call to any friend you might have in the States for them to pop along to Best Buy (apparently their version is better than the Wall*Mart one)

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Monday, 3 August 2009

Ace Frehely wears BathroomWall - a better picture

A better picture of Ace Frehley wearing his Dr Keith T-shirt

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Ace Frehley... Yes, THE Ace Frehley wears BathroomWall

ACE FUCKING FREHLEY is wearing a BathroomWall T-shirt. One of the guys that made me fall in love with rock n' roll is standing centre stage as guest of all-star rock n' roll jam band, Camp Freddy and he, the man that gave Kiss a heart and soul; the man that set an entirely new standard for stage craft and performance; the guitarist 100% responsible for all of Kiss' finest moments (Love It Loud excepted); the space man that influenced a whole generation of guitarists is WEARING a Keith Richards Dr Keith's Rock N' Roll Pharmacy T-shirt that I designed. Rock N' Roll All Nite. Do You Love Me? Too right I do Ace.... YOU RULE.

On stage with Ace are Camp Freddy, which tonight are Matt Sorum (Velvet Revolver, The Cult & Guns N' Roses), Steve Stevens (loads of people, but most famous as Billy Idol's guitarist), Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction), Billy Morrisson (The Cult, Ginger Wildheart's solo band).

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Monday, 1 December 2008

General Rock Stuff

Ahh, less than a week after Axl Rose destroyed the status quo (without capital letters) by actually doing something a normal for a musician and releasing an album, things have returned to back to the way we have come to expect them to be with old Waxy doing weird rock star stuff. No, I am not talking about him still refusing to give interviews or still refusing to make a video for any of the tracks on the new album, but because he is threatening to sue Dr Pepper for not giving away enough free cans and for abusing his 'reputation'. By that I assume he means that he means his reputation for be a loon will be tarnished be being associated with a can of fizzy pop? I dare say if Dr Pepper had been offering cans of virgin vampire piss or the distilled milk of the Amazonian tree frog, then all would be OK?

In sort of more related Axl news, everyone's favourite capitalist demon, Mr Gene $immon$ has told a recent conference that "if you are not on stage at 9, then you are a bitch". OK, so he didn't use the words "Rose" or "Axl", but is was both obvious and funny all the same. Not so funny is that $immon$ has promised the world a new Kiss album in 2009. Please no, just a proper European tour, but please God, no new album - otherwise they will feel the need to play tracks from it.

If the thought of a new Kiss album isn't sad enough then there is actually some genuinely sad news in that former Little Angels, Cult, Page & Plant etc drummer Michael Lee has died aged just 39. There is still no cause of death being published, so we can only assume that the family want to keep it private - which is something we should obviously respect. A quality drummer and by all accounts a fine chap too. Very sad and our thoughts are with his family.

Oh yeah, I hadn't mentioned that the Faces are reforming. Now I couldn't give a rats ass about most of the reformed nostalgia acts, but to paraphrase the Michigan Loon, Ted Nugent.... I would drag my dick through broken glass for that one.

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