Review – Ace Frehley: Anomaly
Late last week I was able to pick up the latest offering from Ace Frehley, Anomaly. Twenty years in the making, I was eager to hear what Ace had up his sleeve. Purchasing was quite a endeavor as I had to try 3 retail locations before finally finding a copy at Borders. (I don’t know if that is good news for Ace with copies flying off the shelves or if it’s an EPIC FAIL as his Bronx Born record label and distro company just dropped the ball. I think it’s the latter because a Best Buy associate helped me search the Chicago area stores online to find that only about 10 copies existed.) I have had a chance to listen front to back three times now and will give my song by song reactions:
Foxy & Free:
What a way NOT to start an album, much less one anticipated for as long as this one. An impressive opening riff quickly turns into a patchwork of sounds and ideas that don’t feel fully realized. This could have easily been an 80′s castoff, not quite good enough for his above average TROUBLE WALKING album.
The first single. Not a way to announce your return to the world. This song is a Rob Zombie reject. With much hype about using Drop D tuning (whatever the hell that is), this song just doesn’t seem to fit with the album or with Ace. I’m not saying it’s terrible, but with lyrics straight out of an above average High School band and a style that is not his own I have to wonder how this made it onto the album or as the lead single.
Pain In The Neck:
Finally, something interesting. An ode to the girl that drives you wild in the bedroom but drives you crazy everywhere else. The lyrics are goofy, but I think that’s the point. Lyrically it is light hearted, but sonically it breaks out some great riffs and a chorus that will stick in your head. Any yodeling, you ask? But of course! Yodeling is a longstanding tradition for Ace’s music believe it or not, and with this track it helps to underscore that the song is to be enjoyed for it’s goofiness.
Fox On The Run:
Ace has included a cover song on every album since leaving KISS. Ace covering Sweet is like a hand in a glove. It just fits and the song sounds great. It really rocks…but so did the original from which this hardly strays.
A psuedo instrumental that includes a vocal chorus. At six minutes plus, this is one of the longer tracks on the album. For an instrumental that is kinda long, but when you’re listening it just doesn’t feel that way. Great riffs, great solos, great chorus. I really like this track.
Too Many Faces:
Ace has taken a page out of the Gene Simmons playbook and has been hyping this album as akin to his smash 1977 KISS solo album. I couldn’t agree less with the exception of two tracks. Too Many Faces has that classic Ace Frehley in his heyday feeling. It really does have that vibe. Lyrically more mature than most of Ace’s compositions, it’s a very solid song.
Change The World:
I’m never more excited listening to Ace than when he breaks the “hard rock” mold and meanders over to pop. (Hardcore fans of Ace who have collected his unreleased bootlegs will know what I am talking about.) It’s not that I dislike his rock songs, but he seems to experiment more and try different things with his pop compositions. Change The World is a great pop song and, in my opinion, should have been the lead single.
The second instrumental on the album. For KISS fans, this song is a nod to the instrumentals of KISSs’ youth. It doesn’t really break any ground or provide anything you weren’t expecting from Ace…but I’m guessing that was the point. (ie, to show the world who crafted the music for the early KISS albums…you know, the ones they still play in concert. Not the ones from the 80s and 90s that non-fans don’t care to hear.)
A Little Below The Angels:
The second foray into pop. Something of a ballad, this song is earnest to the point of being saccharine. It has a spoken word conversation between Ace and his young daughter (who’s like 25 now, right?) and it includes a childrens’ chorus on the outro. In spite of all the sugary sweetness, I love this song. This is Ace wearing his hear on his sleeve, speaking of his past addictions, failures and wishes to be a better person. If you love Ace…the flawed human being Ace…then you will love this.
This is an OLD song. This comes from the early 90s and I have the bootlegs to prove it. It sounds like something from TROUBLE WALKING, but is actually better than many of the songs on that album. It’s got a great groove, high energy and rocks pretty hard in spots. I’m glad to have a quality recording of this song after so many years…but would have preferred something new.
It’s A Great Life:
A mid-tempo pop-rock song with a great sing-along chorus. Ace once again flexes his creativity and comes up with something that stands out amongst the other songs. I really enjoy this one.
The fourth installment of Aces’ instrumental Fractured series. I’m bored to death with these. He has stated that this will be the last of the Fractured series. Thank goodness because he should’ve stopped after the first, classtic Fractured Mirror.
I give this album a respectable 7 out of 10 stars. I hope it’s not another twenty years until the next one!