Review: Ace Frehley “Origins Vol.2” [eOne/SPV]

Review: Ace Frehley “Origins Vol.2” [eOne/SPV]

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This year a couple of cover albums were released. In June Bobby “Blitz” and Mike Portnoy joined forces in BPMD project, revisiting some American rock classics and earlier this September Zakk Wylde celebrated the 50-years anniversary for Black Sabbath debut album, recording Indigo with his cover band Zakk Sabbath. Now Ace Frehley, the “Space Ace” from Kiss releases the album Origins Vol.2: his own view on the songs that inspired him when he started his way in music.

But let’s be frank: vocal is not the thing Ace can boast. Without any doubt he is a great guitarist and in 2014 he was included in Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame but as a vocalist he is a bit weak. So, with this in mind I took Origins Vol.2 cautiously but looking on playlist I haven’t found something required some outstanding vocal skills. Even the opening “Good Times Bad Times” from Led Zeppelin largely fits Ace’s vocal and I think he assess his vocal capabilities appropriately as well, without overextending himself on “Whole Lotta Love” or “Immigrant Song”. In the next “Never In My Life” from Mountain, Ace compensated his vocals with robust sound, adding heaviness to guitars and drums. By the way, “Never In My Life” isn’t a song, which bands usually take to cover it but this year it’s already the second version of it – the first one was on BPMD‘s album.

Deep Purple‘s “Space Truckin'” caused me a couple of questions only by its presence in this album. Yes, it’s not the hardest song for vocalist (again, musically it played greatly) but still Ian Gillan really sparkles in original song while Ace just sing it. Also there is another problem with such covers: musicians still want to cover songs like it but the fans will still compare covers with original songs and usually such comparison will not be in favor of the cover.

“Jumpin’Jack Flash” from Rolling Stones is one of the best pieces on this album: heavy sound and Lita Ford‘s vocals merging together decently, creating rhythmical and crispy Hard Rock. The same happens with “30 Days In The Hole” (Humble Pie), where Cheap Trick‘s Robin Zander can be heard and in “I’m Down”, already buoyant song from The Beatles, Ace added more drive. Cream‘s “Politician” sounds also quite good (interesting choice of song against Ace’s latest statements, though), with John 5 as guest guitarist.

“Manic Depression” here sounds a little bit darker and somber; for this song Ace invited another ex-Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick. In its turn, “Kicks”, originally performed by Paul Revere & the Raiders will be a discovery for lots of people (including me): this band is not so famous but it was the first live show Ace ever seen and it was important for him to play their song.

However, there are some not so successful covers here like The Kinks‘ “Lola”: heaviness hasn’t worked well for this song; and even if we put aside the original song, the cover is just not catchy and not so interesting.

The album ends with “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, which became famous with The Animals (while initially it was written for another band) – one more time Ace added some drive and heaviness and this time it worked. And there is a bonus track in the album also – “She” from Kiss, created by Gene Simmons and Stephen Coronel even before the band was formed.

But to be honest, I don’t think this album will be something extraordinary and the chances that Origins Vol.2 will gain some new fans are tiny. Nevertheless, the album per se is quite good, greatly played and qualitatively recorded and mixed (I think I told enough about vocals). Some people will want to listen to originals after listening to Origins Vol.2, someone maybe add a couple of songs to his playlist and the others will just enjoy it in their cars, for example. I’m sure, Ace had a good time, playing and recording the songs, which inspired him in his childhood and further in his musical career. But I can’t say the same about every listener, so everyone will decide for himself. There is a little chance that I’ll listen to this album frequently but it will be interesting to listen to Origins Vol.3, which Ace promise to release in 2021.

Origins Vol.2 was released on September, 18th via eOne/SPV.

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