In the spring of 1987, and five years after he left KISS, Ace Frehley unveiled his new band, FREHLEY’S COMET, and their debut album of the same name. This is an important record to me because it came out on Monday April 27, 1987, the day after my fourteenth birthday, and three days after my father was admitted to the hospital. This was a tough time. My mother tried to shield me from what was going on for as long as she could, but she eventually broke down crying and said, “Damian, your father is going to die.” I cried my eyes out and wailed away, but through it all I had my music. My father died on May 16, 1987.
Now, you may wonder why any of this is relevant, and that’s fine. But this is Classic Albums, the place where I share my memories, and I decided to do one on the one and only FREHLEY’S COMET debut! Right from jump Ace is letting you know that going down the wrong path is a bad idea with “Rock Soldiers”, an autobiographical tale if ever there was one. The band is made up of Tod Howarth (guitars, keyboards, lead/backing vocals), John Regan (bass/backing vocals), and Anton Fig (drums), along with Ace doing what Ace does, vocally and guitar-wise.
“Breakout” is next, a rockin’ tune co-written by the late drummer Eric Carr, and sung by Howarth. It’s a gritty tale of a convict locked up for a crime he didn’t commit and Howarth sells it well with a fantastic vocal performance. 29 years later I still get the main riff popping into my head out of nowhere all the time. I think Eric would love that. And between Ace’s solo, and the whole band just going nuts in the middle, this remains to this day one of the album’s coolest cuts. And speaking of songs popping in heads, “Into the Night” did just that the other morning at work, and I was singing it all day long.
Thing about this one is that I can remember the video clear as day on MTV and it was about street denizens who aspired for something better. I watched it with stars in my eyes hoping one day I could be in a video like that. Howarth takes lead once again on “Something Moved”, which is a pretty badass rocker and I remember jamming this in my Walkman while riding my bike on my paper route (I dipped into the till for said paper route to buy this record, FYI). Closing out Side One is “We Got Your Rock”, with one of THE coolest lines 14-year old me had ever heard: “You got a backstage pass and a nice little ass, and you say you wanna take me home.”
Flipping the record over we start off with “Love Me Right”, and Ace sounds terrific. This just might be his best vocal on the whole thing. But the absolute jewel in the crown is “Calling To You”. Howarth owns this song like a motherfucker, and it’s so anthemic that it ought to be illegal, seriously. This tune is on so many of my CD mixes it’s ridiculous, that’s how much I love it! Plus, the solo kicks ass! “Dolls” is a weird song, yeah, but when I first got his LP it was my favorite for some reason. My friends no doubt thought I was certifiable, and they still do, but still, this is a very unique and cool tune.
Heheee, the funny thing about “Stranger In a Strange Land” is that all these years later the riff still pops up at a moment’s notice and I have to mentally say to myself, “Ha ha ha, move over, DICK!” when I pass someone, usually at the supermarket or behind the wheel. What can I say, I’m a dick. Closing the album is instrumental “Fractured Too”, which progresses nicely from the original and adds some rock elements. Look, at the end of the day Ace Frehley was making a statement with this album, and it’s one that still holds true to this day. He doesn’t need them, and they don’t need him, so let’s leave it at that. But this FREHLEY’S COMET record was/is something special, and that’s why it’s now in Classic Albums. ~dc