“Space Ace” Frehley is back, but this time he’s not singing about being inside the vortex, a space invader or the Milky Way, like he did on his impressive 2014 studio album. Origins Vol. 1 is a collection of 12 cover songs by the former KISS lead guitarist where he’s paying homage to his roots. And for KISS fans, such as myself, there are three redone KISS cuts and a Free song – “Fire and Water” – with Paul Stanley on lead vocals.
Read on for my track-by-track review of Origins Vol. 1, which hits stores on April 15.
“White Room” (Cream)
- Not only does this song serve as the lead single off the album, it’s also the opening track. I’ve never been a huge fan of this song, but Ace’s version features his signature vocal delivery, a blistering guitar outro and excellent drumming and vocals by Scot Coogan, which keeps things interesting. It’s a solid way to kick off the album.
“Street Fighting Man” (Rolling Stones)
- As with the previous track, I’ve never been wild about this song either. However, Ace’s love for this Rolling Stones’ cut shines through in his vocal, as well as his memorable guitar work. I won’t revisit this song often, but it’s a well-done cover nonetheless.
“Spanish Castle Magic” (Jimi Hendrix)
- Aside from Rod Stewart and KISS, I don’t consider myself well-versed in 1970s classic rock. This is probably because I grew up with bands from the 1980s and 1990s. Even though I’m not a big fan of Jimi Hendrix, Ace’s guitar solo in this song is undeniably excellent and the song has a funky, driving groove that commands the listener’s attention.
“Fire and Water” (Free)
- KISS is my all-time favorite rock band and Paul Stanley is my favorite member of the band. So, it should come as no surprise that this is my favorite song on this album. Not only does it mark the first time Ace and Paul have recorded a track together in years, but it features excellent vocals by Paul and soulful guitar playing by Ace. It’s easily the best song either of them have recorded in years, and I can’t wait for other KISS fans to hear it because I’m sure they’ll feel the same way too.
“Emerald” (Thin Lizzy)
- Prior to this album, I never heard of this song before. On this track Ace is accompanied by Slash and it’s reflected in the guitar work, which is excellent. Hearing Ace and Slash trade solos in the middle of the song is a feast for the ears and a testament to their unique abilities.
“Bring It On Home” (Led Zeppelin)
- KISS was heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin and many music fans have pointed out how Ace’s style is similar to Jimmy Page’s, so it’s not surprising that this song made it on to the album. While the guitar playing is excellent, what makes this song special is the lead vocals by Scot Coogan.
“Wild Thing” (The Troggs)
- Featuring Lita Ford on guitar and vocals, this song is just as dumb and fun as the original. However, one thing worth pointing out is how loud and crisp the guitars sound. The same goes for the drums, which sound nice and big throughout the entire album.
- This redone KISS track easily surpasses the original studio cut. A big reason for this is the excellent production, which features a killer arrangement that will rock your socks off. The guitar and drums on this song have never sounded better. While Ace’s solo isn’t note-for-note the same as the original, it has just as much, if not more, passion as when he first played it back in the 1970s. KISS fans will love this cover song.
“Magic Carpet Ride” (Steppenwolf)
- This is one of my favorite covers on this album, probably because it fits Ace’s vocal style perfectly. It’s a fun, catchy little song that Ace sings and plays with confidence. And, of course, the guitar solo is top-notch.
“Cold Gin” (KISS)
- This is my favorite classic KISS guitar riff. It’s simple, loud and crunchy. The definitive version of this song is on Alive! However, this is the best studio version of the song and KISS fans will love it. As with “Parasite,” Ace couldn’t have done a better job of giving this song a modern-day makeover.
“Till The End Of The Day” (The Kinks)
- Here’s another song I’ve never heard of before. That said, it’s an enjoyable mid-tempo number that is well-suited for Ace’s pop-rock style.
“Rock N Roll Hell” (KISS)
- This song is one of my favorites from Creatures of the Night, so I was very excited to hear Ace’s version. As expected, it doesn’t disappoint. Not only do the guitars sound amazing, the drums are just as loud and epic as they were on Creatures of the Night. This is an excellent cover of a phenomenal song and a fitting way to cap off the album.
Origins Vol. 1 is far better than I expected. When I first heard that Ace was doing a covers album, I was disappointed because I always prefer that artists release original material. However, having listened to the complete album multiple times, I have to say I’m very impressed with Origins Vol. 1. Every song ranges from good to excellent, with no filler in sight. If you’re an Ace Frehley fan or simply someone who enjoys classic rock, be sure to check out this album when it drops on April 15. Ace is back and he told you so!