The guitarist revisits albums like Love Gun, Alive II, his solo debut, and Dynasty before beginning the 80’s era with Unmasked and The Elder.
Continuing the dissection of KISS discography, Ryan Downey and Ace Frehley begin the third segment of the ongoing Disc Dive with yet another milestone in the band’s catalog with Love Gun.
The record holds particular significance with Frehley because it features the track, “Shock Me,” which was the guitarist’s vocal debut. Frehley discussed how the catalyst for the song was a scary accident in Lakeland, Florida, where Ace was electrocuted onstage.
The track also features his legendary guitar solo, which is widely-regarded as one of the best in rock music history. In fact, it’s ranked #50 in Guitar World magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitar Solos Ever”.
KISS would revisit the magic of their live record Alive with a sequel in Alive II. Having released Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over, and Love Gun since the last live record, it was certainly time for another concert experience to be recorded. Frehley attributed to the quality of the album to producer Eddie Kramer as he discussed overdub techniques and different audience sounds that were all layered to create such a rich audio experience.
In 1978, Ace would make his debut as a solo artist. The self-titled release would also begin a lifelong friendship between Ace and a then emerging talent in drummer Anton Fig. In the years since, the two have recorded together consistently, both in Frehley’s solo work and with KISS.
Fig would go on to be the number two to Paul Schafer and The World’s Most Dangerous Band – the house band for late night talk show host, David Letterman.
KISS would close out their prolific 70’s run with their seventh studio record in Dynasty. The opening track, “I Was made for Lovin’ You,” saw the band embracing the popular disco sound of the era. While the track wasn’t indicative of the band’s identity as rock artists, the song was an immediate hit and has since become one of the pillars of the KISS catalog.
Additionally, Frehley would make his mark on the Dynasty record by stepping into the spotlight as the lead vocalist for three of the album’s tracks, including “Hard Times,” “Save Your Love,” and The Rolling Stones’ cover, “2,000 Man.” Frehley would attribute the strength and success of his solo record with giving him added confidence prior to beginning work on the Dynasty record.
The 1980’s began for KISS by emerging without the make-up as the Unmasked record ushered in a new era for the band. For Frehley, his stamp on the record is found in tracks like, “Torpedo Girl,” “Two Sides of the Coin,” and “Talk To Me.” Frehley recalled how at that time he began to really become particular about how he wanted his songs to sound and how it might have caused a rift between his bandmates.
Closing out the segment, Frehley and Downey would examine the 1981 release, Music from ‘The Elder’ which fell notoriously short of earning any commercial or critical success. Explaining that The Elder was more of a concept album than a proper KISS record, Frehley would attribute the shortcomings of the record more to timing than the quality of the songs. Ace was vocal about how he didn’t feel the album was the best route for KiSS and history would suggest, Ace had some foresight.
Watch part 3 of the ongoing discussion of the entire KISS discography with Ryan J. Downey and Ace Frehley on the Disc Dive.