Mega Force 1997
Roadrunner International (Re-issue) 2000
A follow-up to the 12 Picks collection, Loaded Deck delivers more average-joe rock from likeable fret-fab Ace Frehley, mostly focusing on his like-it-or-lump-it post-Kiss material. The unreleased and rehashed studio stuff shines brightest, with Skid Row in tow and the amiable Anton Fig (of Letterman fame) on skins. Frehley's Comet bassist John Regan provides condescending but cool linear commentary (Didja know "Wild Thing" author Chip Taylor co-wrote Ace's public service announcement "Rock Soldiers"?). The live stuff lacks the antiquated charm of the original versions (Why is 80's bass so hard to discern?), but features frequent and funny Frehley babbling. Two more variations on Frehley's favored "fractured" leitmotif finish the record (Could Def Leppard's "Fractured Love" be related?). As for the bonus: Can't explain the necessity for another live read of "Shock Me", except that this cut is Ace's first lead vocal outing and features Frehley's frenzied and fabled fingering on a supremely 70's extended solo. Again, Loaded Deck holds nothing life-changing, but some rarities dwell here, and only the initiated are likely to be listening anyway, and they'll feel obligated to score this sometimes redundant shot of rock.
-STONE, Cheap Trash NYC