The Ace catalogue is brimful of guitar legends, and Lonnie Mack (with his trusty Flying V) is one of the best loved. From Nashville to Memphis is the third and final volume of Lonnie's recordings for Harry Carlson's Cincinnati-based Fraternity label between 1963 and 1967. It follows in the wake of Lonnie On The Move (CDCH 352, 1992) and Memphis Wham! (CDCHD 713, 1999), excellent sellers both.
Any thoughts I had that this would be a ragbag collection of unutilized masters were soon dispelled on scouring the Ace tape vaults. The first step was to gather up the remaining singles, be they A or B sides. And so we are able to present the outstanding Hot 100 hit, Honky Tonk '65 (#78 in 1965) along with other top-notch driving guitar instrumentals, Coastin', Buckaroo, Omaha and Nashville. On the mellower side, there is the vaudevillian Tonky-Go-Go and the casual swing of I Left My Heart In San Francisco backed by hit-making Fraternity group, the Casinos.
In the case of The Circus Song and When I'm Alone, the original singles masters are missing, presumably never returned by the pressing plant, so we have used alternate takes from pristine session tapes. Then there are five previously unissued tracks by Lonnie, including two soul-drenched vocals, No More Pain and She Don't Come Here Anymore. There is also a blasting instrumental Blues Twist (Parts 1 & 2) from the 'Memphis' period which later manifested itself as Coastin' and Tension.
The biggest tape find of all was Soul Serenade by Beau Dollar & Coins, highlighted by Lonnie's unmistakable guitar work. This romping version of the King Curtis original was heard by avid pirate radio listeners through the 1960s North Sea static as the theme to Mike Raven's Radio 390 shows. Incredibly the Beau Dollar cut has never been reissued in any form since its appearance on the obscure Prime label in 1966. Naturally, it's the lead track here and, marvelously, it is even better than the mystic legend that surrounds it.
The story of the 'Soul Serenade' saga, in all its cloak-and-dagger intrigue, and the other recordings here is told by notewriter Stuart Colman. Taking advantage of his Nashville base, Stuart was able to contact Lonnie Mack alumni for their reminiscences, including Troy Seals, Tom Jolly and producer Carl Edmondson. Suddenly, Stuart and I were seeing the Fraternity sessions in a new light and we decided to embark on a fully-fledged discography, helped by the discovery of musicians union session sheets in the Ace archives by our Peter Gibbon. And so we were able to unravel the sequence of recordings, trace the different bands that were used, and pinpoint the various studios - from King in Cincinnati to those in Florida, Louisville and Nashville. It's all in the CD booklet.
Winding up the compilation are tracks by Max Falcon and the Charmaines, both featuring Lonnie's lead guitar, and three funky piano instrumentals by longtime henchman Denny 'Dumpy' Rice. Fittingly, we conclude with the first-time-on-CD mono mix of that eternal initial hit, Memphis. This is a salute to a true guitar hero with a whole lot of rock'n'roll soul!