Many will find it up for dispute, but I believe a review of legendary rock musician Ace Frehley’s newest album “Space Invader” fits in perfectly here. The former KISS guitarist made a name for himself onstage as he stalked around in his interstellar costume while his instrument smoked and he fired off rockets into the sky as strobe lights flashed and flames jumped around him. His Spaceman persona grew to even more epic proportions in a sci-fi fantasy movie, video games, and through the pages of Marvel Comics and other publications. The larger-than-life cosmic super hero delivered humanity from the clutches of evil just like the Avengers, Justice League, or Fantastic Four.
You can take the makeup off his face, but you can’t remove the spirit of the Spaceman from Ace Frehley’s heart. The former KISS lead guitarist is back and better than ever with the impeccably titled “Space Invader.” Made up of eleven solid tracks of interstellar rock and a rousing cover of the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker,” the album sounds like an improved extension of Frehley’s 1978 solo debut.
“Space Invader” starts off with the title track, which serves as an electrifying sneak peek at what’s to come. It’s solid and hard-driving with the signature lead guitar work we’ve all come to expect from the one and only Ace Frehley. The lyrics to the song read as an introduction to his onstage persona as seen in the pages of the countless comic books written about him. He’s the savior of the Earth come to warn us of our impending doom and deliver us from our own undoing. It’s either about Frehley’s character or a higher power watching over us.
Every song on “Space Invader” serves as a perceptive reflection of Ace Frehley’s past, present, and future experiences. He sings about the unruliness of his youth in “Reckless.” Other tracks speak about his love for his girlfriend and “Toys” for big boys. “Inside the Vortex” and “Past the Milky Way” use his affinity for sci-fi related premises to illustrate other notions.
Personnel for “Space Invader” include bassist Chris Wyse and drummer Matt Starr. Wyse is known for his work with The Cult, Ozzy Osbourne, The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, and Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell. Starr has worked in bands with members from Guns N’ Roses, Whitesnake, and Quiet Riot as well as serving with Love / Hate and Bang Tango. Each brings his own expertise to compositions already fine-tuned by Frehley.
Folks picking the album up in stores might notice something familiar about “Space Invader’s” cover art. Let’s just say it would fit perfectly displayed next to KISS’s legendary albums “Destroyer” and “Love Gun.” It was painted by fantasy artist Ken Kelly, who lent his talents to those unforgettable examples of rock music history. Besides his work for KISS, he’s well-known for depicting Conan, Tarzan, and other music groups like Manowar and Rainbow.
The standard version of “Space Invader” which fans will pick up in retail stores include a very cool pick complete with the Frehley’s lightning bolt logo on one side and his signature on the other. The Deluxe Edition of the album comes with the extended recordings of “Space Invader” and the single “Gimme A Feelin.’”
Ace Frehley’s “Space Invader” is the perfect example of everything the musician has become known for in his 41-plus year career. You can literally visualize him performing onstage shredding his guitar as it smokes and fires rocket missiles into the stratosphere while listening. Even without his signature face paint, he truly is the inimitable Space Ace.
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