Frehley's Comet

Ace Frehley

Megaforce/Atlantic, 1987

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It would be a stretch to say that any member of KISS had a massively successful solo career, either while a member of the band or after leaving its ranks. However, guitarist Ace Frehley easily could be called the greatest success story that came from the greasepaint. Knowing the right musicians and songwriters to work with, along with having the skills on the guitar (and being more than just passable as a vocalist), he might not have been topping the charts with his solo efforts, but he certainly got the proper attention for some of his work.

Take, for example, Frehley’s Comet, Frehley’s first solo outing since the infamous 1978 solo efforts from all four members of Kiss. Did it top the Billboard charts? No, but it did hit the top 50, which was impressive enough for someone who had been out of the spotlight for several years. With a solid backing band and powerful tracks, this disc showed just how much Frehley brought to the plate in KISS—and how he possibly had been underused.

From the opening march of “Rock Soldiers,” Frehley puts everything on the line—including exposing some skeletons in his own personal closet. What is noticeable about his guitar work is that it’s fairly restrained; he’s not out to be the guitar god “spaceman,” but rather a functioning part of a whole band. This isn’t to say he didn’t do this in Kiss, just that it carries a little more weight when it has his name on the dust jacket.

Trading vocals with Tod Howarth turns out to be a smart move, as “Breakout,” “Something Moved” and “Calling To You” seem to fit his singing style better than if Frehley had tried to adjust his. However, this doesn’t mean Frehley is a slouch at vocals. Tracks like “Stranger In A Strange Land,” “Dolls” and the cover of Russ Ballard’s “Into The Night” prove his singing had only gotten better with the passage of time. (I actually played “New York Groove” from his solo KISS album as I was writing this—and, yep, major improvement.)

Not everything on Frehley’s Comet works perfectly. “Dolls” was a bit creepy when it came out in 1987, and definitely suggest he wasn’t singing about no Cabbage Patch Kids. “We Got Your Rock” isn’t terrible, but doesn’t live up to the higher standards of tracks like “Rock Soldiers” or “Into The Night,” though it’s still listenable, even with lines like “You've got a backstage pass / And a nice little ass.”

The showpiece of the album is the closing track, “Fractured Too.” An instrumental that builds off “Fractured Mirror” from his KISS solo album, this is simply four minutes 15 seconds of musical perfection. While the guitar work is rightfully center stage on this one, the rest of the band’s contributions certainly help to create the aural magic. This is one I find myself going back to again and again, and even after 35 years, it hasn’t gotten old.

Frehley’s Comet was a statement back in 1987 that Frehley was still a force to be reckoned with in the music industry, and remains one of the most powerful offerings he’s presented in his career. If you can only own one disc of his solo works, this is undoubtedly the one to have.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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