Tongue in cheek album review by Eric Sandberg
The Humble Intellectual
Few are privy to the true identity of Ace Frehley, who at a young age donned grease paint, a space suit and a guitar to form Kiss, a high concept group of musicians on a quest to merge rock music with Japanese Kabuki theater.
Quiet rumors persist that Frehley, in his true identity, had already graduated from Harvard and Julliard simultaneously by the time he joined Kiss. Frehley left the group over differences held with singer Paul Stanley on socioeconomic status and adiposity in childhood, a subtle parting of the ways I will not detail in this review.
Ace briefly reunited with Kiss in the 2000s but Frehley's longstanding dispute with drummer Peter Criss, over whether emotive significance is a matter of degree or kind, nearly led to a tea biscuit being lobbed by one at the other and they were both once again expelled from the band.
In 2009 Frehley released Anomaly, the first in a proposed trilogy of high concept albums that are intended to cover all aspects of Religion, Philosophy and Science. But now, Frehley has pundits and fans scratching their collective heads as Ace has just dropped a new, thinly veiled concept album titled Spaceman.
The concepts and themes that appear in this record have us wondering if this is part two of the promised trilogy or a side foray into such varied subjects as gender roles, self-identification with geographic upbringing and the rise of Authoritarianism.
For example, with "Rockin' With The Boys" Frehley sings "Don't be sad, girl, I'm rockin' with the boys," and turns the modern idiom of gender role-reversal on it's ear by having the female sit at home pining while the male earns a living for them both by "rockin' with the boys." It's a twist that is so subtle and ingenious that it may be lost on the casual listener.
Frehley, cleverly plays his guitar in a purposefully minimalist manner on this track leaving the listener pondering whether the songs protagonist could possibly earn a living for two people rockin' with the boys.
In "Bronx Boy" Frehley ponders whether being raised in the Bronx affected his intellectual development. "I never played with toys, don't give me your bullshit" tacitly implies Frehley's concerns about the rise of Authoritarianism in America, while "The Pursuit of Rock and Roll" provides dim hope that we will move past the current political climate.
"I want life, liberty and the pursuit of rock and roll' Frehley shouts, more than sings, again playing his guitar in such a way that suggests he has not practiced in forty-five years, a canny conceit asserting that we as a nation have lost our collective drive to improve ourselves.
It is that ability to subsume his prodigious musicianship and reduce complex socio-political concepts to, what appears on the surface to be, utter piddle that makes Ace Frehley a national treasure.
Ace Frehley — Spaceman
Entertainment One Music
Eric Sandberg: My true opinion on everything is that it's splunge.