What Kept You Curly? Ace Frehley comes good after a 20 year wait Sleazy Rock n Roll Show

What Kept You Curly? Ace Frehley comes good after a 20 year wait

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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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