Legendary rock band KISS has been in the news quite a bit in 2014. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame amid a fire of controversy. And bassist/founding member Gene Simmons has found himself in the headlines time and again seemingly thinking himself everything from an economist to a professional therapist to an expert on the music industry in whole. And now not long after the release of his latest solo album Space Invader original guitarist Ace Frehley is back in the news, having made some less than complimentary remarks regarding his former band mate Paul Stanley. His comments regarding Stanley aside, Frehley’s own latest full length studio effort proves to be worth at least a listen by itself. The album is one that any old school rock and roll fan will enjoy even with just one listen thanks to its mix of bombastic guitar licks and equally classic lyrical topics. That mix of bombastic, over the top music and classic style lyrics is evident right off the top in the album’s opener and title track. Even more enjoyable is the solid rocker that is ‘I Wanna Hold You.’ And Frehley’s completely….spacey cover of The Steve Miller Band’s hit ‘The Joker’ is one that absolutely must be heard to be full understood.’ The more up-tempo, rocked out cover of the classic tune gives it a wholly new identity. It’s not one of those covers that will hit audiences with the first listen. Rather, it will grow on audiences that are open-minded enough to give it chance. Those that do give it a chance will agree that in some bizarre way, it actually works as odd as it sounds. That being the case, it’s one more song from this latest release that will leave audiences agreeing once more that Space Invader is one record that any classic rock fan should hear at least once before the year winds down.
Ace Frehley’s latest full length studio effort is one that fans of both the original KISS lineup and of classic rock in general should hear at least once before this year wraps. Frehley makes his case for this argument right off the top in the album’s opener/title track. Its full-on, over-the-top music alone is proof enough of why it is worth checking out. The manner in which the song was produced gives it a feel that instantly conjures thoughts of it being performed in a live setting. And on its lyrical side, it is just as interesting. Frehley writes in this song, “You know the planet/Has been in trouble/For a thousand years/We’ve all been blind/There’s no time to waste/Give up the struggle/We must embrace our host/Give it up for/Space Invader.” He goes on to write of the said figure, “He comes from distant galaxies/Space invader/He stands before you/To set you free/No rhyme or reason/No piece of mindThe Earth’s survival/Will coincide/The day draws near/Of his arrival/We must accept our fate.” So is “Space Invader” supposed to be a certain religious figure? Frehley does write of “Space Invader” that “he comes to save us…behold his majesty.” Regardless of what Frehley may or may not be saying here, there’s no doubt that this song is sure to generate its own share of discussion if only for its rather interesting lyrical content. That discussion, along with its musical side, makes for a song that is understandably the right choice to open this album.
‘Space Invader’ is quite the opener for Frehley’s new album. The mix of its full on classic rock sound and thought provoking lyrics make it a solid first impression from Frehley on this his latest release. One more piece that audiences will enjoy is the straight forward rocker that is ‘I Wanna Hold You.’ This song is an even better representation of what makes Space Invader work than its opener/title track. Lyrically, one would expect it to be just another ballad style piece. He writes in this song, “I can’t escape/Emotions tell the tale/It’s give and take/Love isn’t always fair/People will stop and stare/What we’ve got/We don’t have to share/No damage done/There’s more to come/And I’ve been dreamin’ so long/I wanna hold you/I really must confess/Because I told you so/You’re not like the rest , oh no.” It sounds like a page right from some cheesy 80s big hair ballad. But the song’s musical side tells a very different story. It’s a rather up-tempo 4/4 piece anchored by Frehley’s guitar work and that of drummer Matt Starr. Frehley shows even at his age, that old dogs can in fact be taught new tricks. And Starr’s timekeeping is just as impeccable. The song’s musical elements couple with its simple and fun lyrics to make one more of the highest of points on this album. It isn’t the last of the album’s high points, either. If this song, and the album’s opener aren’t enough for audiences, then Frehley’s full-on re-imagining of The Steve Miller Band’s hit song ‘The Joker’ will definitely make audiences sit up and take notice. Anyone that is familiar with ‘The Joker’ knows how laid back this song proves to be. That laid back nature is what makes it such a fan favorite to this day. Frehley’s take on the song gives it not only new life but a wholly new identity. It really is most easily understood when heard for itself. The best way to explain it is that Frehley has taken it and turned it from something laid back to something akin to an arena anthem, if that makes any sense to anyone out there. It has big guitar licks, big drums, the works. It most definitely isn’t what one thinks of when one thinks of ‘The Joker.’ But it will grow on listeners that are open-minded enough to give it a chance. Those that do give the song a chance will hear it for the interesting work that it most definitely proves to be. And along with the likes of the album’s opener/title track and the up-tempo anti-ballad that is ‘I Wanna Hold You,’ it’s one more song that proves the overall value of this record to Frehley’s fans and fans of classic rock in general.
The songs noted here each play their own part in the overall sustainability of Space Invader. They may not be the favorite of one listener or another. There are plenty of other songs not noted here that each listener will find to be his or her favorite. Those songs along with the ones noted here prove collectively that Space Invader is definitely a modern classic rock record worth at least one listen. Ace Frehley will be on tour next month in support of his new album, beginning November 13th in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His upcoming tour schedule also includes a performance on November 17th at the Carolina Theatre. Before any of those dates, Frehley will be taking part in the annual “Chiller Theatre” later this month, October 24th – 26th. Audiences can get more information on these dates and all of the latest news from Ace Frehley online at
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