Wooo-hooooooooo!! I got an advance copy of Ace Frehley’s new Anomaly CD, his first new music in 20 years, and…well, before I tell you about it, I gotta be honest: I had huge hopes and a little fear sliding it into the CD player.
(As long as we’re on the word “huge,” I am a huge Ace fan. Like so many knuckleheads my age, I picked up the guitar because of Ace and will forever think Les Pauls look cool because of him.)
Back to Anomaly: I had huge hopes because I’m a fan and his 1978 solo album is still one of my favorites: I have it in the CD changer in my car. I also had a little trepidation because I’m not a huge fan of the Frehley’s Comet stuff. Plus, it’s been a long time since we’ve heard anything new from Ace, and that ’78 solo record sets the bar high.
Ace had talked about Anomaly being somewhat like the ’78 material, but could it be? Really?
Let’s be clear: the ’78 solo CD was lightning captured in a bottle – or on vinyl. Every song on that CD is great, in my opinion, and Ace was at the top of his game. Could Ace possibly do that again?
On Anomaly, Ace is back to his old self (without the booze!). All the songs sound in some way like vintage Ace – yes, the singing voice obviously is Ace’s, but I mean the guitar style, the songs, the song structures and his trademark licks.
One reason the ’78 album was so good is that it had Anton Fig on drums – the drumming on there is sick! – so I was extremely stoked to see that Anton is hitting the skins on Anomaly as well (except for one tune). The bass player on most of the tunes is Anthony Esposito, a great rock player probably best known for playing in George Lynch’s Lynch Mob band.
I’ve listened to Anomaly about seven or so times already, so I think I have a decent feel for the tunes. With that said, here’s a track-by-track review:
Foxy & Free – When this tune came on, I got chills. From this tune, you KNOW that Ace is back. It rocks, it’s catchy, and Ace manages to incorporate a few of the riffs he pulled out for the ’78 CD (in fact, he does that here and there through all of Anomaly).
Outer Space – This was the track released first, so not sure if that means it’s “the single” off the album. A good tune, and has the “space” references, so it definitely works as a single…but not one of my favorites (yet).
Pain in the Neck – Cool tune with an odd-time-feel chorus riff. Not only does this tune actually have yodeling in it, the yodeling works!
Fox on the Run – This is the old, great Sweet tune. It’s such a natural for Ace’s playing and singing styles, I seriously feel like I’ve heard him doing it before. Great cover.
Genghis Khan – Ace said this had a “Kashmir” (by Zep) feel, and it sort of does with the eastern-flavored notes he plays in the acoustic intro and the heavy drums. This tune is unusual in that it isn’t an instrumental and really isn’t a total song singing-wise – it’s like an instrumental with a chorus. That doesn’t detract from it. It’s already one of my favorite tunes on the CD.
Too Many Faces – To me, this tune sounds like it could’ve been on a KISS album of the Dynasty/Unmasked era, but also a little different. Bottom line: good tune.
Change the World – This is a softer tune (not really slower, not a ballad) that seriously could be a single if current radio and musical tastes weren’t so F-ed up. Ace takes a few chances singing on this one, and does a great job. That takes cojones: I’m psyched for him.
Space Bear – This is a heavy instrumental, and the third-longest tune on the CD. Cool riff – this one I have to listen to a little more to fully appreciate.
A Little Below the Angels – I guess you could call this a ballad, but that would be doing this tune a disservice. A lot of the lyrics on this CD seem to be autobiographical, and especially this one. Another “different” tune for Ace, and he does a hell of a job with it.
Sister – An Ace rocker! Ace fans will be able to tell it’s Ace just by the opening riff. Love it. I can’t change my ways, either! (You’ll get it when you hear the song.)
It’s a Great Life – Another “different” tune for Ace. This time the difference is that the guitars aren’t distorted, but it’s still a rock tone, it’s still all Ace and sounds good.
Fractured Quantum – This is, of course, a continuation of the Fractured Mirror theme. It’s an instrumental, but that and maybe the tempo are the only things similar to the original. This has a different chord progression, and has a more “hopeful” feeling – that’s the best way I can describe it.
Bottom line: If you’re an Ace fan and don’t like this album, something is seriously wrong. It’s got enough classic Ace to keep long-time fans happy, enough” new stuff” to keep people interested, and good songs. I think the “all kiler, no filler” tag works here.
> Tone-wise, I think I’m hearing JCM 800-type Marshalls, but at least one song (Genghis Kahn) sounds like an old-school Super Lead. I’m assuming Ace used all (or mostly) Les Pauls with DiMarzio Super Distortion pickups as he alwys has, except for the acoustic guitars – although I am hearing Fender-ish sounds here and there.
> You can listen to the album streaming here.
> Ace will be at three record stores to sign copies Anomaly, which will be released Sept. 15. If you buy a copy of Anomaly CD at these locations, you will “receive a wristband ensuring [your] place in line at the signing event,” and space will be limited.
Tuesday, Sept. 15 @ 7:00 pm
1015 N. La Brea Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90038
Saturday, Sept. 26 @ 1:00 pm
WRAT & WDHA presents
51 Lafayette Rd
Fords, NJ 08863
Sunday, Sept. 27 @ 1:00 pm
31 Brookvale Ave
West Babylon, NY 11704
> Ace’s website is acefrehley.com.
Sites That Link to this Post
- WoodyTone! - Rant: Where the F Was the Ace Frehley Cover? | January 15, 2010
- WoodyTone! - New Info on Ace Frehley’s 1970s Gear | March 15, 2010