By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
FREHLEY’S COMET – SECOND SIGHTING (1988)
While I do consider myself a fan of the band Kiss, I’ve never really been all that particular enamored of the various solo and/or side projects from the original members. The exception to that has been a few songs here and there from guitarist Ace Frehley.
If you can’t like a song like “Rock Soldiers”, there’s just something wrong with you. But that’s a song off the first Frehley’s Comet album and this article is taking a look at the second (and last) studio album to bear the “Frehley’s Comet” banner.
While I didn’t buy the album when it was originally released, I do have pretty clear memories of hearing “Insane” and “It’s Over Now”, the two tracks that were released as singles. Of course, it probably had something to do with seeing the accompanying videos for the songs more than radio airplay, since neither song was a hit on the charts.
But what I do remember is how much I loved “Insane”. It opens the album and it is a real ball-busting rock and roll song that grabs you right from the start. As for “It’s Over Now”, it’s a power ballad sung by guitarist/singer Tod Howarth. It hits all the right notes of sentimentality without crossing over into self-parody so I rather enjoyed it once again when I played the cassette.
Speaking of Frehley and Howarth, they broke down the lead vocals quite equally. Ace sang four songs, Howarth did the other four and they teamed up on the Side One closer “Loser In A Fight”. That was a real corker of a song, a fully engaged rock tempo to the music there.
The song “Time Ain’t Runnin’ Out” was okay but of the five songs on Side One, it was probably the one I enjoyed the least. The fast pacing of the song “Dancin’ With Danger” was pretty entertaining though. It’s a cover of a song originally done by the band Streetheart. I was looking at the writing credits and Streetheart is credited but there seems to have been some kind of re-write because both Ace Frehley and Dana Strum (the bassist for Slaughter) have co-writing credits on the song as well.
I liked the first side of the album, but I think Side Two was even better. It kicks off with the heaviest sounding song on Second Sighting, “Juvenile Delinquent”, and finds Ace not only ripping it up musically but putting in a really good vocal performance as well.
The rest of Side Two is pretty rocking as well. “New Kind of Lover” is sung by Howarth, but also showcases the band’s fiery musical chops in a brilliant light too. I loved the chorus for “Separate” a lot.
The most intriguing song to me was the album closing “The Acorn Is Spinning”. It’s an instrumental and I’m just crazy enough to think it could’ve been just as memorable as say, “Mr. Scary” from Dokken. It struck me as being just that kind of level of cool. The only thing holding it back was the annoying dialogue sprinkled throughout the song. I hated the interruptions because I just wanted to hear the music they were playing.
I’ve never seen Frehley in concert, whether when he was with Kiss or as a solo artist. I’ve only recently even had the opportunity anyway. I’ve got a music related friend named Troy who has met him a number of times and even worked on Frehley’s crew for a few shows. I’m not jealous (much) but I know that after listening to Second Sighting, if I get the opportunity to see Ace in concert, I’m not going to be quite so damn foolish as to pass up that chance again.
For me, Second Sighting was an eye, or perhaps, ear opening experience because while I’ve liked individual Ace songs before, this was my first full album listen and I thought it was smashingly great!
NOTES OF INTEREST: The album was reissued by Rock Candy Records in 2014. According to the liner notes, radio DJ and TV host Eddie Trunk served as an executive producer for Second Sighting.
Jamie Oldaker was the drummer for this album, he had previously played with Eric Clapton, Bob Seger and Peter Frampton. He would go on to become a member of The Tractors.
Bassist John Regan, who played the bass tracks on the first three songs on the Michael Monroe album Not Fakin’ It (that was featured in The Cassette Chronicles series a few weeks ago, reunited with singer/guitarist Tod Howarth in 2016 for a new band called Four By Fate. They were joined by ex-Skid Row drummer Rob Affuso and release an album called Relentless.