A new album from a legendary guitar player who goes back to his roots and lets us in on what he listens to? Yes please. I would love that. That is exactly the platter that KISS legend Ace Frehley serves us with his latest opus, Origins Vol. 1. The album is a long time coming from an artist that has had a cover song on every one of his releases. The concept for the album was actually one from his label who wanted a backup plan in case Frehley did not finish his last album, 2014’s Space Invader (read the Space Invader review). The label wanted to capitalize on the KISS Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction that year and the previous album getting completed on time was in question.
What most people do not realize is just how instrumental Ace was to the early success of KISS. Not only was his guitar playing the stuff of legends, but he also wrote a lot of songs that people do not even realize that he wrote. During his early days, he would write songs that Gene Simmons or Paul Stanly would end up singing because Ace was far too timid to take the mic. Some of these songs included classics like “Cold Gin” and “Parasite,” both of which are featured on Origins Vol. 1.
The first thing that we have to note about the album is the wonderful line-up of guest musicians including former KISS bandmate Paul Stanley, Slash, John 5, Lita Ford and Mike McCready. All of the guest musicians bring a nice performance to an already solid album.
The album opens with the Cream classic “White Room” and Ace sounds like he is 20 years old again. The energy throughout the entire song is amazing and the cover itself is intense. Ace also strikes up nice renditions of the Rolling Stone’s “Street Fighting Man”, the classic “Bring it on Home” as well as a myriad of other classic rock anthems. John 5 comes in to record two tracks with Frehley, “Spanish Castle Magic” and a redo of the KISS classic “Parasite.” Lita Ford lends her talents to “Wild Thing” and Mike McCready joins in on the classic “Cold Gin.”
The one thing that I have to mention is that Ace actually redoes one of my favorite KISS tunes, “Rock and Roll Hell” from the classic Creatures of the Night. This is a song that KISS themselves only played live once so it is nice to hear some love given to such a well deserved track.
At the end of the day, Ace Frehley is back as strong as ever. While the vocals are never astounding, they are serviceable and his guitar playing is always the star of the show and Origins Vol. 1 has no shortage of great guitar playing.
Ace Frehley – Origins Vol. 1 Tracklisting
Title – Original artist/arranger
1. White Room – Cream
2. Street Fighting Man – The Rolling Stones
3. Spanish Castle Magic (featuring John 5) – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
4. Fire and Water (featuring Paul Stanley) – Free
5. Emerald (featuring Slash) – Thin Lizzy
6. Bring It On Home – Sonny Boy Williamson II
7. Wild Thing (featuring Lita Ford) – The Troggs
8. Parasite (featuring John 5) – Kiss
9. Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
10. Cold Gin (featuring Mike McCready) – Kiss
11. Till the End of the Day – The Kinks
12. Rock and Roll Hell – Kiss
Ace Frehley Line-up
Ace Frehley – lead vocals (all, except 4); rhythm and lead guitars (all); bass guitar (1, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12)
Chris Wyse – bass guitar (2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10)
Scot Coogan – drums (1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11); lead vocals (1, 6)
Matt Starr – drums (2, 4, 12)
Ray Brandis – percussion (2, 6, 9, 11)
Warren Huart – harmony lead guitar (5)
John 5 – rhythm and lead guitar (3, 8)
Paul Stanley – lead and backing vocals (4)
Slash – lead guitar (5)
Lita Ford – lead guitar and lead vocals (7)
Mike McCready – lead guitar (10)