Recent Ace Records Gems - Articles - Soundblab

Recent Ace Records Gems

by Ian Johnston Rating: Release Date:

Roger Armstrong's Ace Records is the best British reissue label par none, specialising in golden age rock 'n' roll/blues/ r&b/do-wop/funk/soul/freak beat re-releases and compilation CD's. Whether you're into rockabilly, 60s garage punk, northern soul, punk or Cajun music, year in, year out, since its launch in 1978, Ace always delivers the goods. Here are five of the best of Ace's recent releases.

1. GREAT GOOGLY MOO - Various Artists

A superb follow up to the excellent 2003 Ace complication Great Googa Mooga!, Great Googly Moo continues the theme of presenting a cornucopia of 1950s and 1960s r&b, rock 'n' roll, vocal group and unclassifiable novelty numbers with bizarre and incomprehensible lyrics. Once again lovingly complied by veteran rock 'n' roll aficionado/ musician Brian Nevill, Great Googly Moo offers "more undisputed truths" from a profusion of artists. These performers range from the famous (the second take of Little Richard's epochal 'Tutti Frutti', The Drifters' 'Yodee Yakee' and The Kingsmen's version of 'You Got the Great Gamma Goochee', a 1965 follow up to their hit reading of 'Louie Louie') to the infamous (Screamin' Jay Hawkins' demented 'I Hear Voices' and The Rivingtons 'The Bird's the Word', which inspired The Trashman to fuse the number with The Rivingtons previous hit, 'Papa Oom Mow Mow', to create the classic 60s garage hit 'The Bird's the Word'), the unjustly forgotten (Sheriff & The Ravels' 1958 single 'Shombalor', one of the favourite records of the late, great Lux Interior of The Cramps, and The Astro Jets 'Boom-A-Lay') to the just plain gone (The Five Blobs' 'From the Top of Your Guggle (to the Bottom of Your Zooch)',Helen Humes & Her Orchestra - 'Woojamamacooja'). Once you have heard Wade Curtiss & Rhythm Rockers belated answer record to The Trashman's 'Surfing Bird', 'Puddy Cat (Mama-Meow-Mow), you'll never be quite the same again: ("Well everybody's heard that the cat is the word, and the cat ate the bird, the cat the cat, the puddy, puddy cat."). Great Googly Moo is of course the very quintessence of rock 'n' roll.

2. BO DIDDLEY IS A …. SONGWRITER - Various Artists

The late great mighty Bo Diddley has been a corner stone of brilliant rock 'n' roll for half a century. As the title implies, this Tony Rounce compilation celebrates Bo's often-overlooked song writing ability (there was much more to the man than his trademark 'shave-and-a-haircut, two-bits rhythm') with an exciting collection of Diddley covers by numerous eclectic performers. From start to finish Songwriter offers an embarrassment of rock 'n' roll riches; Buddy Holly's respectful 'Bo Diddley', The Iguanas' '(Mona) I Need You Baby' (featuring a young Iggy Pop on drums), Willie Cobbs' compelling 'You Don't Love Me aka She's Fine, She's Mine', Mickey & Sylvia's dream-like rendition of 'Dearest', The New York Dolls' wonderfully wacked out version of 'Pills', Dr Feelgood's impassioned 'Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut' and Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band's inspired 'Diddy Wah Diddy', a 1966 single which launched Captain Don Van Vliet's musical vocation ,featuring a vast bass sound that the Magic Band endlessly tried to recapture in vain for the rest of their long and illustrious career. The most recent Diddley cover on the CD is Gizzelle's excellent 2007 version of 'Dearest Darling', conclusive proof that Bo's songs have never gone out of fashion.

3. RAWHIDE'S CLINT EASTWOOD SINGS COWBOY FAVORITES - Clint Eastwood

Actors invariably make much better records than musicians/singers ever deliver performances as 'actors'. The evidence for the defence of this statement includes the 1957 loungecore classic Robert Mitchum Sings Calypso Like So (recently reissued by on vinyl by Bear Family), Mitchum's 1967 country album That Man Robert Mitchum. …Sings, Orson Welles' shattering 1985 single 'I Know What It is to Be Young (But You Don't Know What It is to Be Old)', Lee Marvin's hit 'Wanderin' Star', Jack Palance's 1969 country LP Palance, featuring the ultimate version of 'Green, Green Grass of Home', and Clint's 1963 Rawhide's Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites. In the early 60s, Eastwood made his name playing the young and angry cowpoke Rowdy Yates in the hit TV series Rawhide. His 'rebel' Rowdy character became something of an iconic figure for teenagers and so, as was the fashion of the day, a recording career was planned. rock 'n' roll riches were wisely avoided, as Clint was a hardcore jazz fanatic, and he and the Cameo record label decided on a easy listening Sons of the Pioneers style western-cowboy sound. Clint's vocals might stumble somewhat on Sheb Wooley's 'Are You Satisfied' but Eastwood's mellifluous tones bring lustre to the authentic sounding western numbers such as Sons of the Pioneers' 'Tumbling Tumbleweeds', Bing Crosby's 'The Last Round-Up','San Antonio Rose' (written by Bob Wills, The King Of Western Swing) and a definitive rendition of Cole Porter's 'Don't Fence Me In'. The perfect soundtrack for a lazy evening on the sofa, envisioning a simple life on the western range under wide-open skies.

4. A ROCKET IN MY POCKET: THE SOUNDTRACK TO THE HIPSTER'S GUIDE TO ROCKABILLY - Various Artists

Complied by former Gallon Drunk drummer, suave lead Flaming Star, Mojo scribe and author Max Decharne, this CD does just what it says on the tin. This is a terrific compilation, compiled by Decharne to accompany his new Serpent's Tail tome A Rocket in My Pocket: The Hipster's Guide to Rockabilly, offering a solid introduction to some of the most hedonistic, libidinous, primitive and crazed music ever created by mortal man - original 1950s Rockabilly. It came from the deep south of America, a highly potent and combustible mix of r&b, country, hillbilly, folk, blues and any other three-chord music that happened to be lying around. Though some claim that the rockabilly elixir was originally fomented by the legendary Charlie Feathers (represented on this compilation with 'Get With It'), most, including Decharne, cite the seminal five singles that Elvis Presley, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black cut at Sam Phillip's Sun Studios in the mid 1950s. Presley's cover of 'Mystery Train' is still a magical, incandescent recording that created a completely new sound that was neither black r&b or white hillbilly but a seamless fusion of both, influencing and shaping the rockabilly pioneers who would follow in its wake. Many of the greatest flaming hellion practitioners of the riotous black art of rockabilly alchemy are featured on this disc: Johnny Burnette & His Rock 'n' Roll Trio's simply electrifying 'The Train Kept A-Rollin''(quite possibly the greatest rockabilly record ever made), Allen Page's 'She's the One That's Got It' (memorably covered by contemporary rocking maverick Tav Falco and Panther Burns), the blistering 'Come On Little Mama' by Ray Harris, Carl Perkins' railing cry 'Put Your Cat Clothes On', Don Willis' 'Boppin' High School Baby', Mel Robbins' suggestive 'Save it' (made explicit by The Cramps in their dazzling early 1980's cover) and Jimmy Lloyd's blatant 'I Got a Rocket in My Pocket'. Obviously, with a compilation of this kind there are bound to be some unfortunate omissions of personal favourites (Glenn Barber's rockabilly film noir 'Shadow My Baby', 'Bertha Lou' by Dorsey Burnette, the unstable 'Hot Lips Baby' by Herbie Duncan, Jimmy Wages' 'Miss Pearl', CL Crockett's compelling 'Look Out Mabel' and not one track by Benny Joy) but hopefully they will be included in a well deserved second volume in the foreseeable future.

5. JET BLACK LEATHER MACHINE - Vince Taylor

Released well over a year ago but still creating waves, this barnstorming compilation features all the vital releases by the most genuinely berserk rock 'n' rollers the UK ever produced, Vince Taylor.

Taylor, who in 1965 went on stage in France, dressed in robes proclaiming that he was the new Jesus, was a major inspiration for David Bowie's famous Ziggy Stardust character. Bowie had actually met the strung out singer in the mid 60s outside Charing Cross station, where Taylor had produced a map and showed the future starman where the UFOs where about to land. Born Brian Maurice Holden in 1939 in Isleworth, Middlesex, Taylor moved to America with his family in 1946 where he saw Elvis perform in Santa Monica in 1956. Taylor heard a Tommy Steele record from England and decided that if this was the best Britain had to offer he could really make an impact. He did. In 1959 Taylor wrote one of the few British rock 'n' roll compositions that definitely ranks with the very best material produced in America during that era, 'Brand New Cadillac'. The single was so potent that when it was re-released by Chiswick Records - the forerunner of Ace Records - in 1976 and it was a big seller once more. Eventually The Clash would cover 'Brand New Cadillac' on their 1979 double album, London Calling. Kieron Tyler relates in the liner notes of Jet Black Leather Machine that The Clash's Joe Strummer met the unbalanced Taylor in the early 80s and that Taylor spent the next five hours explaining to the punk singer that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor where trying to kill him with poisoned chocolate cake.

Moving from Britain to France in the early 60s, dressed in full black leather biker garb, Taylor was Europe's own Gene Vincent, inciting riots when he played (footage of Taylor performing shows how much Morrissey was influenced by the rocker) and producing thundering rock 'n' roll records until his mid-1960s breakdown. Taylor's riveting assault upon Arthur Crudup's 'My Baby Left Me' (covered by Elvis at Sun) is so abandoned that it anticipates British punk by 10 years. Taylor's versions of 'Hi Heel Sneakers', Willie Dixon's 'My Babe' and Little Richard's 'Long Tall Sally' are equally driven and visceral. Jet Black Leather Machine is a compulsory purchase for any self respecting rock 'n' roll fanatic.

Comments (5)

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Awesome!

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Great article!

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These sound rad. I've got "Doo-Wop Shop" which is a nice starter doo-wop comp, also a collection of Southern Californian garage nuggets called "It Came From The Garage" which is pretty good too. I definitely need more doo-wop in my life.

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Nice piece. Ace are the bestest!

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A compilation by Andrew Weatherall from a few years ago got me into the 50s stuff. Sci Fi Lo Fi, the first half of that record features some great stuff from the 50s. Also the Cramps are a good place to start as they did a lot of covers. Is it me...

A compilation by Andrew Weatherall from a few years ago got me into the 50s stuff. Sci Fi Lo Fi, the first half of that record features some great stuff from the 50s. Also the Cramps are a good place to start as they did a lot of covers. Is it me or is it a forgotten decade? I'm pretty clued up as far back as the late 60s, can't wait to pick Ian's brains when we get to the best of the 50s lists for this site.

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