On April 27, 1951, Paul Daniel “Ace” Frehley was born, and for a long time after that nothing happened.
Alright, that’s not true, plenty of things have happened since then, but arguably the coolest member of the Hottest Band in the World past and present is celebrating his 69th year of living on this planet since arriving from his home planet of Jendell.
Since becoming a KISS fan in 1991, Gene and Ace have always been my favorite members of the group. I’ve come to appreciate later members of KISS over the years from Bruce Kulick to Eric Carr, but no one will ever unseat the Spaceman…the real Spaceman that is and not…ugh…*gestures nonchalantly* that other guy, as the coolest ever.
In celebration of the Space Ace’s birthday I’m counting down my favorite Ace Frehley songs across his career that exemplify for me just how cool this Bronx Boy is. And since we’ve already discussed the 10 Ace Frehley guitar solos that are clearly trying to have sex with us, we can finally talk about the songs that affected us in…other ways.
::Takes off glasses, nods suggestively::
12 – Mission to Mars
I was at my local record store the day that Ace released his latest solo effort in Spaceman, and this is the shining star on the record. The rest of the album is good, and for me is his best since Trouble Walkin’, but none of the other tracks are as full speed ahead rocking as Mission to Mars.
11 – Hide Your Heart
There are multiple versions of this song, with Ace releasing his version just days before the KISS version from Hot in the Shade was released. And, while Paul hits those high notes and really croons on the KISS cut of the song, Ace’s version sounds grittier, heavier and more street given the subject matter of the song.
10 – Torpedo Girl
Unmasked is a better album than Dynasty, not by much, but I enjoy it more specifically because of this standout cut on the album. Ace plays guitar and bass, and shows off his goofy, fun loving side with this ridiculous (for all the right reasons) song. It also helps that it’s an original song that carries the record instead of a cover like our next entry.
9 – 2000 Man
Sure, it’s a cover, but it’s one hell of a cover and is the shining light on a record that I had a lot to say about in the past as not aging well. The Stones version is great on its own merits, but Ace gives it so much more swagger and punch.
8 – Shock Me
The song that set the Space Ace on his Rocket Ride into future lyrical endeavors. I’d rank it higher due to historical significance, but for as much as I love “Shock Me” and teenage me thought the lyric of “put on your black leather” and all of the sexual innuendo was really cool, 2020 me finds the song a little plodding at times.
7 – Trouble Walkin’
I love this entire album and was stoked to purchase the cassette for $2 off of one of my oldest and best friends in the 9th grade. Unlike paying $2 for Phantom of the Park I wasn’t bummed about my purchase after I experienced it and I can’t help but sing along (badly) to the chorus, and wanting to be every mother’s nightmare.
6 – Five Card Stud
My favorite Ace solo record aside from the 78 solo, and my absolute favorite song from Trouble Walkin’, “Five Card Stud” rocks with so much power and bravado it feels like Ace hit me with a royal flush and soaked me for all my money. Anton Fig’s thunderous drumming coupled with possibly Ace’s strongest vocal work of his career has this coming up all aces.
5 – Insane
Second Sighting was not and is not a good album. It’s sandwiched between two great albums (Frehley’s Comet and Trouble Walkin’), but that alone is not the reason for its disappointment, it’s just lacking effort across the board with a couple of notable exceptions.
Ace and company turn in a fun cover of Canadian rock band Streetheart’s “Dancing with Danger”, but covers don’t always count for much. Insane ends up being the clear standout track though, with Ace reminding everyone how he’s so much cooler than the rest of us, living his five days to our one.
If this could have found it’s way onto Trouble Walkin’ instead of Second Sighting, it may have unseated the ’78 solo as my favorite Ace album.
4 – Rock Soldiers
After leaving KISS a few years prior, Ace had to come out of the gates with a bang and this song was the perfect song to let the KISS Army know that Ace was back cause he told us so, and that his fans didn’t have to worry about playing without an Ace in their deck.
3 – Into the Night
My favorite post KISS (both times) Ace song. “Into the Night” never fails to stir up a myriad of emotions and give me goosebumps when I sing along (badly again) as Ace infuses it with a soul all his own and puts his New Yawk stamp on it.
2 – Rip it Out
Ace had contributed plenty of songwriting to KISS and had already contributed a couple of vocal performances with “Shock Me” and our number one that we’ll get to shortly, however Ace had always been accused; maybe rightfully so, of being lazy and not giving the same level of effort to match his talent.
When KISS decided to release their unprecedented four solo albums aka let’s throw Ace and Peter a bone and see if they sink or swim, it lit a fire under Ace’s ass resulting in the best selling and best received of the four solo albums with Ace kicking the door in with a vengeance with “Rip it Out”.
There’s hardly a bad song to be found on his album as Ace was out to show everyone that he wasn’t just a practical joker, but could rock as hard as anyone when given the chance.
1 – Rocket Ride
Lady space you better wake up fast, countdown is coming on.
While some may have been disappointed that Alive II wasn’t all live tracks, when members of the KISS Army heard Rocket Ride for the first time that disappointment didn’t last long.
Shock Me announced Ace was finally ready to sing for the first time, but Rocket Ride put him on the map and launched him into the stratosphere as someone to take seriously. The gravity that held him down just didn’t exist no more.
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