12 Picks

Ace Frehley

Megaforce Records, 1997


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Now that Ace Frehley is reunited with the original line-up of Kiss, it's easy to forget or discount his solo career of the late '80s. Spanning four albums (including one EP), Frehley - first as "Frehley's Comet" and then under his own name - never quite reached the level of superstardom that he did as the lead guitarist for Kiss, but he did prove that he was by no means a washout.

But to discount Frehley's solo career is to do the man a great injustice, as the best-of disc 12 Picks proves. Taking six tracks from his solo output and adding six live tracks from a 1989 show in London, Frehley shows often not only that he had the talent to succeed as a solo artist, but that his sound was as much Kiss as the other three members.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Just the track "Hide Your Heart" - featuring members of Skid Row on background vocals and one Peter Criss on percussion - shows how much Frehley brought to the table in Kiss; this track could easily have been on one of their albums. Frehley's level of confidence never sounded higher than on this track, as if he was finally comfortable with what he was doing as a solo artist. (Too bad the album it came off, Trouble Walkin', was commercially ignored.)

I'll always have a fond spot in my heart for the tracks "Rock Soldiers" and "Into The Night" from the Frehley's Comet album, two tracks that are certain to lock you in with their addictive beats and guitar fretwork. "Rock Soldiers", a tale about Frehley's confronting the demon of alcohol abuse he fought (and almost lost his life to) is still a powerful track, and has lost none of its edge even 12 years after the album came out.

One sad note, though - I would have loved to have heard "Fractured Too" on 12 Picks. An instrumental that was both gentle and powerful, it was an incredible display of Frehley's power as a guitarist, and should have had its moment in the sun on this album.

The live tracks give an idea to the listener of how powerful Frehley's Comet was on stage, though the tracks often don't live up to their studio counterparts. There are exeptions, of course; it's interesting to hear Frehley take over the lead vocals on "Cold Gin," a track that Gene Simmons leads with Kiss. I thought that the version of "Rip It Out" on Live + 1 was cleaner, and I've never been able to get into the track "Rocket Ride," but these are still fun to listen to overall.

12 Picks is a collection that dares to highlight a point of Frehley's career that some people might not know a lot about, but for those of us who followed every note of that period, this will bring back a lot of good memories. Even if all you know of Frehley is his work with Kiss, this is one you'll want to search out.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B+


Ace was always the best -musician- in the Kiss lot. The rest were great showmen, but Ace actually had a knack for writing tight, structured rock and roll. Just take a look at the ill-advised Kiss solo albums if you don't believe me! His initial departure also forced the remaining members to pick up the slack and in fact they dropped the ball fairly consistently throughout the '80s.

Frehley's songs might not be the most original tracks ever put to tape, but his stuff is always enjoyable.

© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Megaforce Records, and is used for informational purposes only.