It’s no secret that Lurkers are music lovers, and anyone who has known this Lurker for more than five minutes knows that I’m a huge KISS fan.
Those same people also know that Ace Frehley has always been my favorite member of the Hottest Band in the World. I’ve dressed up as the Space Ace twice for Halloween, and in junior high I had a brief phase where I called everyone “Curly” whether they wanted me to or not.
So, when Ace announced that he was releasing a new album to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his 1978 solo album, I knew I had Nothin’ to Lose when I swung by my local record store and picked up my own copy of Spaceman. Originally, Ace wanted to call this record Forty Years Later as a nod to the anniversary of his landmark 1978 solo effort, but Gene Simmons convinced him to go with the Spaceman title instead.
Would this new album be a Five Card Stud and stand up to how timeless and amazing that record has become, or is it Insane to think that it’s even a possibility?
Ok, enough KISS and Ace puns, I promise.
Shortly before I went and bought the album I watched an online review that touted Spaceman as being second only to the ‘78 album as far as song and production quality was concerned. Production quality I understand because recording standards have changed a lot in forty years. As far as song quality, could it match up with the likes of “Rip It Out”, “Speedin’ Back to My Baby”, “I’m In Need of Love”, or “What’s on Your Mind”?
First things off the bat, the album cover design and silver vinyl version that I picked up look really cool, are distinctly Ace and are true to the whole Spaceman theme. The silver spacesuit Ace is wearing is the same he wore for a photo shoot back in the 70’s, acting as a nice nod to KISStory.
There’s also an alternate indie version of the album on orange vinyl as well as a blue vinyl release, both with alternate cover designs that the completist in me will be looking to add to my collection as well.
Switching from the visual to the audio, Spaceman is a solid album. I wasn’t entirely sold on it the first time I played the record, but after a couple of more listens in the car it grew on me.
With Ace what you see and hear is what you get. Much like another band that I love in AC/DC, you’re never going to see Ace stray from what has made him a success throughout his career. Songs like “Your Wish Is My Command”, “Mission to Mars” and the first single from the record “Bronx Boy” stand out as the strongest on the album, but the other six tracks hold their own as well. Well, maybe not the cover of Eddie Money’s “I Wanna Go Back”, but I’ve never exactly been an Eddie Money fan, so there’s that.
Is Spaceman right behind Ace’s self titled solo debut during the height of KISS powers? Honestly, no. Let’s face it, nothing will ever match the perfection of that debut album. That was the definition of catching lightning in a bottle and still sounds as fresh and vibrant in 2018 as it did in 1978.
Ace has always turned in solid efforts though since he left KISS, and Spaceman is another solid record from the Space Ace. It’s no Rocket Ride but for me it’s his best album since Trouble Walkin’; which to briefly reference that online review of Spaceman again, was considered “too 80’s”, as if that’s a bad thing.
I love Ace, always have and always will. He was my first guitar hero, I got to see him perform live and hope to do so again although tickets to his shows are not cheap, and he was the rockstar I always tried to emulate whether it was dressing up and painting my face to match his or adopting his laid-back attitude along with his cool and confident sense of swagger. For this Lurker once a Rock Soldier, always a Rock Soldier.
The Spaceman has landed, and Ace is back, and he told you so.
I give Ace Frehley’s Spaceman 3.5 out of 5 Rocket Rides