Menu

Browsing Tag Ace Records

Ace Album Reviews – Aug 2013 by Colin Bryce

new breed

New Breed Blues

New Breed Blues with Black Popcorn (Kent/Ace)

This is volume number five in the New Breed R&B series that began way back in 2001. The series was originally inspired by the likes of the influential (then current) Hideaway Club in Manchester and original mod /soul DJs like Roger Eagle, as well as the European Popcorn scene. Five volumes later and the righteous R&B keeps comin’. It’s rockin’, soulful, groovy, bluesy and dance-floor friendly. This ain’t the incessant Motown/Northern sound but rather the rompin’ period where doo-wop, blues, R&B and early rock’n’roll sounds met to get the kids and club goers sweaty, tuned in and turned out. Essential stuff. (24 tracks.)
BUY HERE!

chiswick story

The Chiswick Story

The Chiswick Story (Chiswick/Ace)

Back when the world was dark and everything seemed either grey, moustachioed, progressive or just plain old full of shit, an upstart independent label based out of a couple of record stalls and a, soon to be, HQ in Camden Town signed up a few unusual acts that loved their rock’n’roll raw, exciting and energetic. The Count Bishops, the 101’ers and the (Hammersmith) Gorillas made newly christened Chiswick Record label their home and the rock’n’roll world fell to its knees. Well, some of it anyway. I certainly did and I’m sure many of you did as well.

At this point (late ‘75 into 1976) safety pins were not yet required to hold ones band together and the black leather jacket so common place nowadays was still the sign of a either a bad-ass motorcyclist or an old school rocker. The Count Bishops – Chiswick’s first signing – were old school leather jacketed rock’n’rollers and the Speedball EP (released late ’75) – made up of great rockin’ covers – was a rip roarin’ success and helped pave the way for more of the same. Great releases by the likes of the Gorillas, Little Bob Story (France), Rocky Sharpe and the Razors, Radio Stars, Johnny Moped, the Radiators from Space followed and by the end of 1977 Chiswick had even unleashed the mighty Motorhead on the record buying public. More great releases were to follow and

Chiswick’s main men, Ted Carroll, Roger Armstrong and Trevor Churchill, being the men of vision that they are, continued on their merry way and by the end of the 70s had signed the re-vamped Damned (Machine Gun Etiquette anyone?), introduced the world to “world music” through the likes of Albania, had smashes with Sniff and the Tears and had even given a number of artists their first shots at the bigs – Billy Bragg, Shane McGowan, Kirsty McColl anyone?

This double disc contains fifty-one selections from the Chiswick catalogue; a two volume set of liners and is essential to any fan of that fertile and exciting period of late seventies music. BUY HERE!

romark

Romark Records

Romark Records, Kent Harris’ Soul Sides (Kent/Ace)

Great compilation of Los Angeles based soul label run by Kent Harris that features a large selection of tracks released from the early/mid 60s through to the early 1970s. Genre fans will certainly recognise the likes of Mighty Hannibal, Ty Karim and Ray Agee but the rest of the crew is largely obscure and unless you’re soul detective number one will be both in for a treat and wondering where you can find another track or two! You don’t need me to tell you that Ace is unlikely to disappoint and that both the track info and sound quality is as good as it is gonna ever get. (25 tracks.) BUY HERE!

Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

August 16, 2015 By : Category : Blues Front page Music Rock Soul Tags:, , , ,
0 Comment

Ace Album Reviews – May 2013 by Colin Bryce

The Ace (USA) Story

acestory5

The Ace (USA) Story – Volume 5 (Ace)

Here we are at fifth and final volume of Ace (UK’s) visitation through the history of its namesake – Ace Records, originally of Jackson, Mississippi. Originally released on vinyl by Ace (UK) this set now includes numerous bonus cuts (9 on this volume alone). The original Ace label – founded in 1955 by Johnny Vincent – was home to countless classic blues, R&B and rock’n’roll gems. This release alone includes the likes of Huey”Piano” Smith (“Educated Fool”), Frankie Lee Sims (“Well Goodbye Baby”), Eddie Bo (“Roll ‘em Back”), Sugar Boy Crawford (“Jockomo”) and many others. The sound as always is top notch and the liner notes chock full of pictures, sleeves and detailed track information. The best idea of course is to pick up all five volumes. (24 tracks) acerecords.co.uk

Dan Penn

danpenn

Dan PennThe Fame Recordings (Ace)

From the vaults of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama we are served up twenty-four tracks from one of the legendary architects of Southern Soul. This collection finds the young Dan developing his craft but whether he’s performing an aching ballad, mid-tempo groover or a straight up soul stormer Dan Penn delivers. His smooth, smokey voice wrapping tales of love, deep feelings and passion with a hickory smoked edge. Of course it is important to mention here that his principal song-writing partner Spooner Oldham and his masterful keyboard work were a key ingredient in the sound of Southern Soul and Spooner is credited with co-writes on all but five of the tracks included. Add Rick Hall’s Fame Studio and the incredible musicians who played there and there can be no argument that this is the kind of music that makes anyone with an ounce of feeling in their soul stop and give it a good listen. The accompanying booklet provides great detail into the sessions, songs and Penn himself. Kudos to Alec Palao and Dan Penn for a superior collection. (24 tracks) Buy HERE!

Gil Scott-Heron

gilscottheron

Gil Scott-HeronThe Revolution Begins (The Flying Dutchman Masters (BGP)

Groundbreaking, hugely influential, timeless and mind-blowing recordings on the Flying Dutchman label by the late, great Gil Scott-Heron. Hip-hoppers, rappers, funky blues people, hipsters, jazzers, ethno-musicologists, academics, community leaders, social activists and plain ol’ music fans everywhere cite Scott-Heron as a “got to” guy when discussing the power of music to educate, instigate and initiate change. I remember catching Gil Scott-Heron on TV numerous times around the time that these influential recordings were made and it was pretty much impossible not to feel the passion and power of the music. His music opened new doors for me as it did, I’m sure, for countless others. And the groove? Well, the groove was in the heart and thankfully Scott-Heron’s massive heart and soul live on in his recordings so that we too can live, love and learn even though he is now long gone. (3 discs and 51 tracks) Buy HERE!

Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

June 16, 2015 By : Category : Blues Front page Funk Music Reviews Rock Soul Tags:, , , ,
0 Comment

Album Reviews – October 2012 by Colin Bryce

King Northern Soul, Volume 3 (Kent/Ace)

I love it when the compiler of the collection does a track by track lowdown and in this case it’s none other than Kent’s man in the know Ady Croasdell filling us in on the artist, composition and little known facts. Very handy.

Out of Cincinnati, Ohio King Records, and its imprints Deluxe and Federal, was the home to everything from country to jazz, early rock and roll, gospel, doo-wop, soul and funk. The list of artists who recorded for the King family of labels is long and a virtual who’s who of legendary artists. This collection features a number of those well-known King greats in Hank Ballard, Marva Whitney and Little Willie John but it also features a number of lesser known, though equally loved, artists in the likes of Charles Spurling, Oscar Toney Jr., and Otis Williams. Not everything is strict four to the floor dance-floor friendly Northern and as Ady points out in the liners the fact that a smattering of funk has crept in here and there to the Northern scene so it has been included here. Marva Whitney’s take on Ballard and Spurling’s “Unwind Yourself” and Royal Flush’s “Mama’s Baby” being a couple of the funkier things. The collection works as much as a strong King Records soul collection as anything else.

I must say I was surprised the notes for “You Got to Prove It” by Dan Brantley failed to mention how much the track owes to Darrell Banks’ “Open the Door to Your Heart”. Highlights for me are Dave and Vee’s “Do You Love Me” which is a straight up driving dancer, “Out of Control” by L.H. and the Memphis Sounds and Willie Hatcher’s  funky “Who’s Got a Woman Like Mine” with its fab tambourine work. (24 tracks.)

Hot Sauce featuring Rhonda Washington: Good Woman Turning Bad, the complete Volt Recordings (Stax/Ace)

Little is known of Rhonda Washington and Hot Sauce and according to the liner notes there has been nothing heard of her since the final Hot Sauce recordings were released back in 1975. The Ace soul sleuths have done their best (as always) to piece together the group’s history and in fact this album as originally planned is only seeing the light of day – finally – here now. Stax and its subsidiary labels were on the verge of total collapse at the time of the planned release and so the Good Woman Turning Bad LP was canned alongside a number of others.

This is a solid soulful release and while not earth shattering the songs and performances cover the ground from deep ballads to strong funky southern-flavoured groovers ala Aretha, Dorothy Moore and others. (11 tracks.)

Manhattan Soul, Volume 2 (Kent/Ace)

Kicking off with the jumping “That Girl” by Porgy and The Monarchs then straight into the Tommy Hunt big city soul cool dancer “New Neighbourhood” is the way to start a compilation. From the vaults of Scepter, Wand and Musicor comes this second volume of great uptown soul. New access to multi-track tapes to improve any of the previously disc-dubbed tracks and some of the other rarities contained within is given as Ace’s reason to get back to the series. I certainly won’t argue with them because this really is a dynamite collection of classy and great sounding movers. Folks like Nella Dodds, Jimmy Radcliffe, Big Maybelle and Freddie Hughes deliver and whether or not you know any of the other artists included intimately or not you’re sure to be impressed. (24 tracks.)

George Jackson: Let The Best Man Win, The Fame Recordings Volume 2 (Fame/Kent/Ace)

Collection number two of soul song-writing legend George Jackson’s previously unreleased sessions done at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. His songs have been recorded by Clarence Carter, Candi Staton, Wilson Pickett, the Osmonds and many others and listening to this collection it is easy to see why. Jackson’s writing is excellent and his honest, emotive delivery easily translatable. Grab Volume One and the other Ace collection In Memphis 72-77 for more of this classic southern soul man’s stellar work.(24 tracks.)

Hall of Fame, Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults (Fame/Kent/Ace)

Fame Studios is one of the great studios based in the American south (Muscle Shoals, Alabama) and the crew there produced countless soul, pop and even country classics.  This latest collection from the folks at Ace rounds up twenty-four superb rarities and unreleased gems from a number of artists who recorded at Fame including the great Clarence Carter, Jimmy Hughes, Otis Clay, Bobby Moore, Travis Wammack, Joe Simon, O.B. McLinton and many more. The quality is so high here I found myself shaking my head over and over wondering how these, either never made it out of the vaults, or weren’t straight up soul smashes. Big Ben Aitkens’ “Tell It Like It Is”, James Barnett’s take on the Falcons’ “You’re So Fine” and June ‘s (Weaver) take on the great “Almost Persuaded” alone had me hooked for days. Then I got ‘round to Prince Philip’s dance-floor killer “Keep On Talking”, Otis Clay’s pumping “I’m Qualified” and O.B. McLinton’s saucy “Two Big Legs and a Short Red Dress”.  Trust Ace to put out another “must have” just when you thought the soul vaults of the world were exhausted. (24 tracks.)

Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

June 5, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Music Reviews Soul Tags:, , , , , ,
0 Comment

Album Reviews – September 2012 by Colin Bryce

Nobody Wins, Stax Southern Soul 1968-1975 (Kent/Ace)

By all accounts the tail end of Stax Records business life wasn’t very pretty. The label still managed to put out some great sounds but relationships within the label had been damaged, the MGs connection was done and things were being recorded outside of Stax’s own studios with a number of acts brought in that some argued weren’t really in keeping with the identity Stax had forged for themselves.

This collection includes some great tracks by some great talent but it also includes some things a Stax fan most likely can live without. I personally find Calvin Scott’s take on “Never Found Me a Girl” considerably inferior to Eddie Floyd’s original take. The Soul Children certainly shone brighter than “Move Over” and the same could be said of William Bell’s “Love on Borrowed Time” and the great Johnnie Taylor’s “Will You Love Me Forever.”

Full marks on Johnny Daye’s “Stay Baby Stay” (co-written with Steve Cropper), Mable John’s “Shouldn’t I Love Him”, the Al Green-ish “Groovin’ On My Baby’s Love” by Freddie Waters (one of those licensed to Stax and recorded elsewhere), Inez Foxx’s “Crossing Over the Bridge” and of course the inclusion of the great Ollie and the Nightingales’ “You’re Leaving Me.” Ollie is and was the bizness. I can’t think of a track recorded by him that ever disappointed me – and that includes those he recorded right up until the very end of his career. RIP Ollie.

All in all this is worth hearing but fans of Stax will most likely feel the frustrations – once again – of how one of the great labels and studios were left at the losing end of the record industry game. (21 tracks.)

Lost Soul Gems from Sounds of Memphis (Kent/Ace)

A decidedly superior collection of rare and recently unearthed tracks of southern groovin’ recorded for the Sounds of Memphis label.

Carl Sims’ (former Bar-kay vocalist) passionate pleader “Pity the Fool” gets things going here and it just keeps getting better. Dan Greer’s “I Don’t Want No One Way Love” that follows is a tune with, what I consider to be, considerable hit potential and while Dean Rudland’s liner notes cover the basics of the labels story we don’t have a track by track breakdown to follow so I’m left wondering how this stunner came to be left in the vault. Truly a shame whatever the story cause this little item is a gem. The same can be said of any number of songs included here. Otis Wheat’s version of “Tennessee Waltz” is as fresh as a new born babe and the raw basic funky grooves of Fran Farley’s “Stop Boy” and Rudolph Taylor’s “What’s That You Got” are neither tired nor hidden behind in a glossy production in some vain effort to make them more than they are – simple and straight up groovin’.

Better-knowns like George Jackson, Barbara Brown and Louis Williams (Ovations) are featured here as well. Jackson with a couple of typically deep feeling cuts. Brown with an alternative take of “I Don’t Want To Have To Wait” and “So Cruel” and Louis Williams with an easy pop-soul number full of poppin’ bass and electric piano. The recordings run late 60s through the early 70s so there are some stylistic changes but apart from maybe the, uh, sensitive “When I Look Inside” by Takelia there is nothing but lost soul gems as the title of the release suggests. (22 tracks.)

Clarence Carter: The Fame Singles Volume 1, 1966-1970 (Fame/Kent/Ace)

Have they ever come any funkier than Clarence Carter? Don’t think so. The laugh, the guitar lines, the lyrical themes, the man got it. The collected Fame singles included here from 1966-1970 features a number of his classics from “Slip Away”, “Tell Daddy” (driven further into hitsville when Etta James re-did it as “Tell Mama”), “Snatching It Back”, and “Funky Fever” to the truly incredible “Looking For A Fox”. “Looking For A Fox” is one of the songs I can never get enough of. It has so much subtle power that it is simply impossible NOT to get your behind in gear. Unreal.

Larger than life deep ballads, soulful southern grooves and funky fevers that one just never hears anymore – buy it. (24 tracks.)

Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

June 16, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Funk Music Reviews Soul Tags:, , , ,
0 Comment

Album Reviews – August 2012 by Colin Bryce

Have Mercy! The Songs of Don Covay (Ace)

I had no idea Don Covay had written or co-written so many of the tracks included here. Who knew! “Chain of Fools” the massive Aretha Franklin smash? Yep, a Covay tune. “Long Tall Shorty”? Get out of here. Yep, a Covay co-write. Brook Benton’s top 20 R&B hit “Shoes”? A Covay-Soule co-write.

The classics “See Saw” and “Mercy Mercy” are probably were the most familiar to me but I have to say the majority were a real surprise. Not everything is chart topping stuff. I could certainly live without “Mr. Twister” (a Connie Francis take), “Kangaroo Hop” (Dee Clark) and Lena Horne’s “Love Bug” is certainly less than wowsville – especially the cheesy back-ups – but all in all this is a very impressive collection of Don Covay’s writing skills. Artists featured include the likes of the aforementioned Aretha Franklin, Gene Vincent, Wanda Jackson, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, the Wailers, Jerry Butler, Graham Bond Organization, Billy Fury and many more. (26 tracks.)

The Wheels: Road Block (Big Beat/Ace)

Belfast R&B ravers the Wheels get the full Big Beat treatment here and I’m sure a great number of 60s enthusiasts are rubbin’ their grubby little paws in anticipation of adding this to their collection. Liner notes come courtesy Shindig’s “Mojo” Mills and he does a great job tracing the bands permutations, affiliations, trials and tribulations.

Musically the band’s sound is probably closer to the guttural harp-driven R&B snarl of what is known as garage on the North American side of the pond as opposed to the mod/freakbeat side of things where the saturated, compressed sound of an overdriven AC30 and a Hammond drives the machine.

Similarities to Them’s sound is no surprise but one could also compare them to the Pretties, Animals or Rolling Stones at their spunkiest. No big surprises but a nice collection of sides for 60s heads. (12 tracks.)

King New Breed R&B Volume 2 (Kent/Ace)

Another great edition of King label rhythm and blues dance favourites. In total now this is number four in the “New Breed” focused compilations that Ace Records has delivered to the people.

New Breed R&B is basically proto/early soul-styled rhythm and blues that is neither overly complicated but is typically not too raw or basic either. Add in a hint of street-corner vocal group, some early black rock and roll and blues and voila – perfect club music.

This volume contains a few well-known tracks in Freddy King’s “I’m Tore Down”, Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Gangster of Love” and Little Willie John’s immortal take of Titus Turner’s “All Around the World”. These cuts may be familiar to many but they still remain stone classics these ears never tire of hearing.  The die-hard will be well-acquainted with Lee “Shot” Williams, Guitar Crusher, Eddie Kirk (Kirkland) and Donnie Elbert (“Wild Child” appears here) but for those who aren’t I can assure worthy musical introductions that should lead to further searches for their work on other labels and further on into their careers.

Freddy King’s sometime vocal foil and star in her own right Lula Reed is here with “Say Hey Pretty Baby” as is horn man Herb Hardesty whose great works Ace Records has recently released as The Domino Effect which features his work for Wing and Federal.

I’m always happy to have the mighty “5” Royales near the deck and they show here with the hip tempo-shifting “It Hurts Inside” (also found on Ace’s It’s Hard But It’s Fair collection from 2005). “5” Royales influential guitarist Lowman Pauling released some recordings for Memphis’ House of Blues label as El Pauling & The Royalton and Ace has chosen to include the moody, atmospheric “I’m a Cool Teenager” from those sessions here. An alternate version can be found on the “5” Royales Catch That Teardrop (released by Ace in 2007) that features the best of their House of Blues label sessions that is a must for fans of the Royales (and Lowman Paulings) work.

A couple of the nice surprises here for me are the Five Fabulous Demons latin-flavoured doo-woppin’ bopper “You Better Come Home” and Hal Hardy’s “Love Man” which wouldn’t be out of place re-done as a new Southern Soul sasser. Another ace from Ace. (24 tracks)

The Spinners: Truly Yours (Kent/Ace)

The Spinners (aka Detroit Spinners) superstar status may not have been achieved while signed to the Motown label – that would come in epic proportions in the 1970s while signed to Atlantic – but the Spinners certainly recorded a number of incredible pieces of music while at Motown. Unfortunately for the Spinners Motown’s stable was loaded with superstars and so Spinners recordings were often passed over for promotion and release in favour of others who had previous chart success.  Why in the world “Sweet Thing” and “Truly Yours” were not #1, or at least top five, pop hits is beyond me. Certainly everything here is not of the quality of those two tunes but much of the material from this collection, their first Motown album with fourteen bonus tracks, is certainly of a quality equal – or even better – than some Supremes, Miracles or Vandellas from the same period.

I will always have a spot in my heart, and in my record collection, for the Spinners and thanks to Ace I have another top release to file alongside the other great Spinners sides I currently cherish. (26 tracks.)

The Radiators from Space: Sound City Beat (625/Chiswick)

The truly legendary Irish punk band Radiators From Space deliver a very special album here with their versions of the Irish beat/rock sounds circa 1964-1971 that influenced and inspired them as both musicians and people.  There are genuinely unique, clever and fantastic versions of songs by seminal Irish groups like Taste, Them, Horslips and Thin Lizzy, as well as collector fave bands like Eire Apparent (Henry McCullough guesting on guitar), Andwella, Orange Machine, Skid Row and Ian Whitcomb. Throw in some obscurities like the King Bees and Hootenannys and you have a complete winner of a record – and it still sounds like the Radiators which is a complete bonus.

Chief Radiator Philip Chevron has penned the CD’s liner notes and it reads as a passionate tribute to the music, musicians and magical/mystical energy of a time and place that was as inspirational and important as the punk era was too many of us and to which the Radiators themselves belonged. If I was going to do an album like this you can bet your life the music of the Radiators From Space would be featured front and center.  Great job fellows! (18 tracks.)

Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

June 5, 2015 By : Category : Beats Features Front page Music Reviews Rock Soul Tags:, , , , , ,
0 Comment