Review Summary: In the immortal words of John Cleese; "so boring...and dull...so awfully dull..."
The late 80’s were certainly a busy time for Ace Frehley. After taking an extended sabbatical to deal with his many addictions, he came back in 1987 and immediately got to work. In the space of just one year, he saw his Comet take off, soar and crash, then proceeded to ride its tail into a “real” solo career. Trouble Walkin’
, from 1989, was the first release of this new era, and became Ace Frehley’s first really solo album in tem years, and his first outside of KISS.
With a cover that seems to want to put Yngwie Malmsteen to shame, Trouble Walkin’
is composed of the usual ten songs, which for this outing abandon the glam coating of the Comet and sit squarely between the slightly experimental hard rock of Ace’s first solo album and the sound he would practise in KISS themselves. Occasional keyboards do appear – after all, they were a side effect of the decade itself, regardless of the musical genre – but for the most part Ace seems more concerned with rocking hard. And that would have been a good thing, if the songs hadn’t been so uninteresting.
In fact, my first hearing of this album was a major letdown. Only during a couple of the eralier tracks and a couple of the former was I ever interested in the album; the rest of the time was spent thinking “will this take much longer”!? Well, it may have been from sleep – it was at night – or from the fact that I was hearing it on my USB radio rather than headphones, but the truth is that that impression subsided in later listens, and I managed to at least appreciate the listenability of some of the songs. Sure, most of them still veer between the throwaway and the bad, and standouts are still limited to a couple, but nothing can really be considered offensively poor, just rather dull.
And it did seem like it would start well. Shot Full Of Rock
comes in with a Love Gun
-like riff and drum pattern, but the song itself is underwhelming. The same cannot be said for the main riff on Do Ya
, one of those fist-pumping moments which remind us of why we like hard rock in the first place; however, vocally and chorus-wise, the song does not live up to those huge chords. Consequently, the first real moment of interest comes in the form of a cover. Ace’s version of Hide Your Heart
was only one of five (!) recorded that same year, and having only heard the KISS version, I can say this one is superior. Ace doesn’t pile on the cheese so much, and therefore his version rocks harder and is more pleasing to the ear.
However, that’s just a cover. And when the best moment on an album is a cover, you know you’re going to be in trouble. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen here, but it comes pretty close there for a while. The next few songs after Hide Your Heart
are either misguided or just plain dull. Lost In Limbo
, for example, wastes a great chorus with the worst verse section on the album, while stuff like 2 Young 2 Die
, sung by rhythm guitarist Richie Scarlett, are nothing but padding.
The only other moments for interest come in the last three songs. Back To School
is a fun piece of double-entendre hard rock, nothing great, but at least it gets your foot tapping; Fractured III
is the mandatory instrumental that starts well, but runs overlong at six-plus minutes; but the absolute best track is Remember Me
. Featuring a puzzling fake-live ambiance and passable, if cheesy, environmental lyrics, the one chapter where this song really wins is the instrumentation. Why? Because it’s a blues song, and you can never go wrong with the blues. Consequentially, its chugging, plaintive riffs and blistering lead work immediately catapult it to a different dimension than anything else on this album, making for the one really indispensable track off an otherwise bland outing.
Still, when the 45 minutes are over, the impression is that of a missed chance. With the help of celebrity guests – half of Skid Row provide backings here, as does Peter Criss – and a clearly driven mindset, Ace needn’t but have wrote a couple more good songs and this would have been a worthy buy. As it is, skip it and save your money for the Greatest Hits packages.
Hide Your Heart