Released: 2016, E1 Entertainment
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Cover songs are always a contentious thing. Stick to the original and people ask what’s the point? Go off on a tangent and make it your own and you’re accused of desecrating a classic. Ace Frehley’s latest venture, ORIGINS VOL. 1, finds him tackling a dozen songs, both well-known and a bit more obscure. The former KISS guitarist has pulled in a few special guests to help him get his message across, too.
No one buys an Ace Frehley album for the stellar vocals but for the sizzling guitarwork, which is on full display on ORIGINS VOL. 1. Ace has always declared his love for British rock from the 1960s, which makes up the bulk of the tracks found here. The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Cream, The Rolling Stones, Free…this is essentially a “who’s who” (without The Who) of the British Invasion. Sticking faithfully to Eric Clapton’s classic riff and solo on Cream’s “White Room,” Frehley pays homage to what is arguably the greatest power trio of all time. “Wild Thing” features a guest vocal by Lita Ford which really works well and the pair also share lead guitar duties, knocking out a killer solo break. The best track here is Thin Lizzy’s 1976 classic “Emerald” with Frehley and Slash executing the dual leads of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson perfectly. Likewise, Led Zeppelin’s “Bring It On Home,” with Frehley and drummer Scot Coogan pairing off on lead vocals, capture the original’s bluesy glory and fuzzy lead guitar. KISS vocalist Paul Stanley echoes Paul Rodgers on the Free song “Fire And Water” with Frehley providing the funky groove to this lesser-known song from 1970. Of course, Frehley mines his time in KISS with three tracks—“Parasite,” “Cold Gin,” and, for some reason, “Rock And Roll Hell,” a song written by Gene Simmons from 1982’s CREATURES OF THE NIGHT album which Frehley reportedly didn’t even play on. While “Parasite” (featuring John 5) is the best of the KISS bunch, “Rock And Roll Hell” is the absolute worst. Musically, there isn’t much difference to the original but Frehley’s already weak vocal chops bring the track to a standstill.
ORIGINS VOL. 1 is an easy recommendation for any fan of Ace Frehley. Ace puts his signature sound to the dozen songs found here with mixed results but there is a lot to like. The fact that he has chosen to cover familiar songs but not those which have been done to death by other bands is refreshing. Also, you can’t help but hear the fun he is having singing these songs which obviously mean a lot to him for one reason or another. Time will tell if there will be a follow-up featuring some more of Ace’s favorites but until that time, enjoy listening to the music that influenced the man who himself has influenced so many.
KILLER KUTS: Fire And Water, Emerald, Bring It On Home, Parasite, Magic Carpet Ride