Take a rocket ride with Space Ace Frehley | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Take a rocket ride with Space Ace Frehley 

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click to enlarge Ace Frehley

Ace Frehley

Kyleigh Pitcher

Even as a dedicated member of the Kiss Army, I understand that Gene Simmons and crew have provided plenty of ammo for trash talkers. But it’s really hard to hate on lead guitarist Paul “Ace” Frehley. He’s a founding member of the greatest rock ’n’ roll spectacle of all time, and his sloppy, shredding, high-gain solos are as much a part of the Kiss fabric as fire breathing and blood spitting. Though Frehley’s compositions have been the highlight of the band’s catalog from the beginning (do yourself a favor and revisit the brilliance of “Rocket Ride,” from the studio-recorded fourth side of 1977’s Alive II), it wasn’t until the group members simultaneously released solo albums in 1978 that he got the spotlight he deserved; while Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Peter Criss released hokey tributes to their own egos, Frehley created a rock-solid, fun-as-hell, hard-rock pop-metal romp that outsold his bandmates’ efforts and still holds up today. Frehley departed Kiss in 1982 to launch a solo career, releasing three solo albums by the end of the decade (two credited to his band, Frehley’s Comet), though his reckless, self-destructive antics constantly threatened to derail him. Frehley’s status as a rock god got a much-needed shot in the arm in late 1995, when he rejoined Kiss for a reunion that turned into a years-spanning farewell tour. He left the band again in 2002, and Kiss has of course gone on to make other “final tours.” But life post-post-Kiss has been good to Frehley; over the past ten years, he’s been clean, sober, and active. He’s released a steady stream of cheesy, funny solo records—maybe a bit forgettable, but totally fine. Of course, you don’t go see Space Ace in concert for a dive into his recent solo work: when I saw him in 2011, he played a set of Kiss classics, with smoke and sparks flying out of his guitar during the solo on “Shock Me” like it was 1977 all over again.   v

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