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A mixed bag from former KISS guitar God...until the end,
This review is from: Anomaly (Dig) (Audio CD)
Anomaly was Ace Frehley's first solo album in 20 years - a time during which he returned as KISS' lead guitarist and left again. Overall, the results are somewhat mixed with some great guitar work being let down by songwriting which is average at times. This is no anomaly; Ace always worked better in a band and we knew his talents were best employed on the fret board of a Les Paul rather than fronting his own work - 1978 aside. This album is what you might expect
The record chugs into life nicely with Foxy and Free, which is similar in style and pace to Rip it Out. Things appear to be going quite well with the heavy Outer Space which makes up for lack of sophistication with raw attitude. Of these first two songs, the only thing missing are Ace's uniquely brilliant solos that won over legions of fans. The guitars are very good, but not up there with his best from KISS.
Unfortunately, things then take a tumble with Pain in the Neck where a promising verse gives way to a clunking chorus. Fox on the Run is very good but is played in similar style to the Sweet original but nowhere near as good. Worth listening to but nothing to make it stand out. Ghengis Khan proves to be almost an instrumental with a very limited and repetitive set of lyrics although musically quite good it just does not cut it. The pace then drops again with Too Many Faces which just smacks of text book filler. Change the World is similar to Ghengis Khan with limited lyrics and heavy guitar work but again, just not strong enough.
The purely instrumental Space Bear picks things up a little before the sappy A Little Below the Angels lowers the tone once again which is only slightly improved by the average Sister and more filler with It's A Great Life.
After an album which had been almost exclusively average or worse since track 4, I was beginning to despair. Ace, guitar God seemed to have utterly lost his mojo. A 2 star review of this mediocrity beckoned until track 12 hit the player: Fractured Quantum finally shows Ace at his best. His fourth attempt at a blend of guitars in a pure instrumental is superb and warrants and extra star on its own. It lacks the complexity and clever layering of the original Fractured Mirror but makes up for it with a talent which Ace clearly still has in abundance: To make a guitar sing. Unlike the mystical and epic sounding original which perfectly captured Ace and his whirlwind life circa 1978, Quantum delivers a real feelgood groove. The only way to describe it is like the soundtrack to a montage of shots of everything that makes you smile. By far and about, the best song on the album and one of the best songs of Ace's career, Quantum is worth the wait.
Overall, the album is not very good. Stylistically it is more like his 1978 work than anything he did as Frehley's Comet, being heavier and more attitude driven. However, it should come as no surprise that a man who managed to write less than a dozen great songs with KISS and whose solo career (even in 1978) was lit up by cover songs or collaborations - see New York Groove, Do Ya, Into the Night and the help he had on Rock Soldiers - should struggle to put together a great solo album.
Not too bad an effort and about what I expected but you might leave track 12 on repeat - I know I have! Away from the lyric sheets, away from the microphone, Ace is always best when armed with a Les Paul, 11 offerings and than Fractured Quantum show that better than ever.