Review Summary: Cute, but...what was the point?
KISS's 1979 venture into live albums may not have been the career-revitalizing commercial success the group desired, but it definitely served as a catalyst for first Peter Criss, then Ace Frehley to launch into modest, but honest solo careers. But while Criss infected the music world with his oh-so-eighties pop regurgitations, Frehley chose to lay low for a few years before returning with his very own band, Frehley's Comet. After a mildly successful 1987 debut, someone at the record company must have pulled a Gene Simmons and decided to capitalise on the Frehley association. Thus a live EP was released, in 1988, with the name of Live + 1
That's right, you read it correctly: a live EP
. Released by a band who had one album
in the market. Pointless much" Of course, some may argue that the KISS connection justifies this release, and they could have a point, if not for the fact that no KISS songs are actually present here. In fact, Live + 1
is made up of a meagre five songs, one of which is a new studio original. Of the remaining four, two are from the Comet's debut and the remaining two are Ace solo compositions featured on Ace Frehley
and Alive II
. Hits like Shock Me
and Cold Gin
are left out, presumably because Frehley didn't want the KISS connection to be prevalent.
Whatever the cause, the fact remains: Live + 1
is as cute as it is pointless. What is here is decent enough, well-played and at times bristling with electricity; but a few more songs wouldn't have hurt anyone, and they might have expanded this release's scope beyond the rabid KISS/Frehley fanbase.
The album starts with a noisy intro, which then subsides into a KISS-style presenter going "Chicago, are you ready to rock"! You wanted them, here they are...FREHLEY'S COMET!!!
With a curt "one, two, three, four!"
the band then launches into Rip It Out
, from Frehley's 1979 solo album. This song is arguably the best of the bunch, with an inspired, electric delivery heightening its qualities. Follow-up Breakout
keeps the flow and sees Anton Fig replicate his studio performance and heighten it with a drum solo more vital than anything Peter Criss ever recorded on an Alive
. And props to Frehley for making space for his drummer in an EP, but leaving out his own guitar solo!
The following two songs, however, are less vibrant, perhaps because they also give off less of a live vibe. The audience, quite audible and evidently real earlier on, suddenly goes quiet for long chunks of time, making the listener feel like it's Alive!
all over again. The upside comes from Frehley's constant interaction with the crowd - surprising for someone who, ten years previously, was unnaturally timid about performing his own material. The record then ends with a studio track, Words Are Not Enough
, a synth-laden, very 80's slab of hard rock which, while by no means special, wouldn't have put Frehley's Comet
to shame had it been included there.
All in all, then, the album isn't bad; however, the impression after these 20-something minutes of music is one of pointlessness. This EP is good for what it is, but maybe they should have waited until the band had at least one more album out (hello, Billy Talent!) and made it a real, full-length live release. As it is, fans will like it, but everyone else can give it a miss.
Rip It Out