To hear the remaining original members of KISS tell it, the title adjective of this week's selection applies quite aptly to the song's composer. However, Ace Frehley himself would probably retort that his no-rules, freewheeling approach to guitar playing contributed highly to making KISS the "biggest and best rock band in the world" way back when. Now that KISS has been announced as an official inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2014, a renewed interest in all things KISS has certainly created an opening for further examination of the '80s career (as solo artist and bandleader) for that band's famed original lead guitarist. The jury remains out on whether (and how) the members of KISS may come together in live performance for this spring's induction ceremony, but there's no arguing that Frehley's loud, frenetic and nimble style helped birth and define the KISS sound for close to a decade during the band's peak era.
During the mid '80s, Frehley put together a hard rock band to advance the solo career he began in 1978 (along with all three KISS bandmates at the time) with a much-hyped, self-titled solo record. That band, cleverly christened Frehley's Comet in time for the group's 1987 release of the same name, featured longtime Frehley collaborators John Regan and Tod Howarth. And although the bombastic, self-important "Rock Soldiers" from that record deftly reflects Frehley's personality as frontman, I look to 1988's Second Sighting for today's feature presentation. "Insane" is built firmly on Frehley's signature guitar pyrotechnics, but it also happens to work exceedingly well as a straightforward statement of its composer's instinctive musical aesthetic. Though never exactly an accomplished rock vocalist, Frehley here delivers an energetic performance of a song that celebrates the flashy, good-time elements of rock and roll. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than a light-hearted, fun romp - and because Frehley has long been a better-than-average song craftsman, it doesn't need to be anything else, either. Lest anyone forget Frehley's importance to the classic KISS sound and approach to theatrical rock, the no-frills output of Frehley's Comet serves as a solid reminder.
- Sample or download "Insane" here.
- Compare prices on Ace Frehley and Frehley's Comet CDs here.
- Top KISS Songs of the '80s
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Rhino Atlantic