ACE FREHLEY - 'Origins Vol. 2'
Featuring: "Space Truckin' " and "I'm Down"
Ace Frehley, KISS co-founder and 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, continues his reflections on a lifetime in music with Origins, Vol. 2.
No stranger to cover versions throughout his musical history — having recorded, rebranded and repossessed such notable nuggets as "New York Groove," "Do Ya" and "I Wanna Go Back" over the course of his eight previous studio efforts — this new collection presents a thoughtful and exciting selection of songs that inspired and helped shape the legendary guitarist.
Foremost of importance to the original Spaceman is delivering an album his fans will enjoy, but one where every song also has a place in his life's jukebox. Describing the process in selecting the songs on this album, Ace comments, "I just thought about the songs that I used to play in clubs when I was doing other people's material. I went through my album collection and thought about the songs that influenced me the most. It was fun picking out the songs. It's a pretty well-rounded record and I think the fans will enjoy it." That spirit of fun is carried through with exquisite execution and guitar aficionados are going to enjoy Frehley's fresh interpretations of these classic songs.
As the second volume focused on his musical origins, Ace has also grown since 'Origins, Vol. 1' was released back in April of 2016. That album hit #23 on the Billboard Top 200 charts becoming his 4th top-40 and second highest charting solo album — and there's no questioning Ace's productivity with this album being his fifth recorded work in a decade! Ace chuckles, "Since I had one covers album under my belt, the process of doing 'Origins, Vol. 2' was easier because I had put together a formula, picking guest stars and so-on." The challenge for him was to put a suitable personal stamp on the material, and 'Origins, Vol. 2' is replete with special touches that both honor and embellish the material.
In addition to connecting with old songs, Frehley has also reconnected with old friends on 'Origins, Vol. 2'. The first of these making an appearance is keyboard player Rob Sabino, who has performed with the likes of Peter Frampton and Simon & Garfunkel. Sabino had been involved in both the Crazy Joe & The Variable Speed Band album (the first project to feature Ace outside of KISS in 1980) and the Frehley's Comet debut (in 1987). On 'Origins, Vol. 2', Rob takes on the role of Deep Purple's late Jon Lord on "Space Truckin'," recorded at The Creation Lab in Turlock, CA. Ace noted, "Space Truckin' was actually recorded years ago and then I just re-recorded some parts and changed it a little. We never ended up putting it on a record, so it was just sitting around. It turned out very well. Rob Sabino is a very accomplished studio musician and we actually grew up in the Bronx together, so we go way back."
Long-time fans may be surprised at the inclusion of a Beatles song, the 1965 non-album single B-side, "I'm Down." Under questioning Ace laughed, "Everyone was telling me, 'You gotta do a Beatles song, Ace, you didn't do one on the first record.' The early Beatles inspired me more than the later records, because they were more raw and more rock and roll. I decided to tackle 'I'm Down' and I thought it came out great. John 5 did a great solo on the song, and then we riffed- out at the end." In addition to the stellar contribution to the song by John 5, it is also one of several tracks on which engineer Alex Salzman performs bass.
Another non-album single follows, originally recorded by the Rolling Stones in 1968, with Ace tackling "Jumpin' Jack Flash." The exquisite Lita Ford returns on vocals for her second Origins project with Ace, who's very fond of her: "Lita's like my sister. I've known Lita since she was in the Runaways and we've always remained friends over the years. She did a great job on 'Wild Thing,' so I decided to bring her back for this record. She actually stayed over at my house in San Diego and I coached her on the vocal for two days. I think it came out great!" And throwing out another playful Frehley tease, Ace ad-libs "Kick out the Jams Motherf**ker!" at the end, the starting lyric of the legendary MC5's best-known track. Ace had met the MC5's Wayne Kramer at the MAP Fund Rockin' For Recovery benefit at the Club Nokia in Los Angeles in May 2014 and the two have remained friends. According to Ace, "If the record company decides they want an 'Origins, Vol. 3,' somewhere down the road, you wouldn't be surprised if I did that song."
Sentimentality is also represented with a smokin' cover of Humble Pie's "30 Days In The Hole," which features Cheap Trick's Robin Zander on lead vocal. Not only had Cheap Trick opened for KISS on tour in the 1970s, Ace and Cheap Trick were both a part of the 2017 'The Children Matter' Benefit Concert for Hurricane Victims. At the time Robin had expressed an interest in working with Frehley, so 'Origins, Vol. 2' brings together the two Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame stars. Ace, a lifetime fan of Steve Marriott, knew he'd need some help on the track. He admits, "I tried singing it a couple of times, but there's no way I was going to be able to do it justice, so I gave Robin Zander, an old friend of mine from Cheap Trick, a call. And he killed it." Once again, the song is firmly rooted in Ace's personal musical journey: "I've always been a huge fan of Humble Pie and was present both nights they recorded live at the Fillmore. I was lucky enough to meet Steve Marriott at a party in New York City. I've always idolized Steve Marriott's voice and his range. He was such a little guy, but he could really belt it out."
Rounding out the album is the bonus track, "She." This song was performed by KISS at their very first show, at the Coventry in January 1973, and was revamped for inclusion on 'Dressed To Kill' a couple of years later. It's perhaps even more fitting than the KISS songs included on 'Origins, Vol. 1', dating back to the very genesis of his time in that band. Ace, however, is pragmatic about its inclusion: "It was a song that we had decided to perform live the last three or four months we were touring, before everything got shut down. We were having a lot of fun doing it live, so "She" was one of the first songs that popped into my mind as a KISS bonus track for the album." And with its inclusion, Ace allows his solo band members — Jeremy Asbrock, Ryan Spencer Cook, and Philip Shouse — an opportunity to shine, while answering the demand of many fans to get the popular performers on a KISS-related record together!
Ace Frehley's 'Origins, Vol. 2' is a well thought out, but not over-thought, album. For Ace, keeping things organic is an important part of crafting an album's atmosphere: "I just let it happen. Things evolve when I start doing these records and I try not to plan too much ahead. I like spontaneity. I like coming up with ideas off the top of my head. It's the same way I write guitar solos. When things are fresh and spontaneous, they always come out better for the listener." Ace Frehley gets the last word with a direct message to his fans: "I'm very happy with the end result and I hope the fans like it as well."