...And it came to pass that, via its acquisition of various West Coast R&B labels and a few judiciously-arranged licensing deals, Ace Records one day found itself in the enviable position of either owning, or having the long-term rights to, just about every recording made by the late, great Richard Berry between 1953 and 1963. Naturally everyone here at Ace Towers is very happy at this, and who can blame us for being so? Certainly not yours truly, under whose personal supervision the reissue of these recordings falls. Richard is a great hero of mine, and I'd be delighted to be involved in preserving his repertoire in even the smallest way. That I've been allowed to have a crack at 'doing for' the whole nine yards is a really wonderful thing for me.
Long term Ace buyers will know that we've had a representation of Richard's Modern/Flair recordings in our catalogue for, well, almost as long as we've had a catalogue, I guess. Our Get Out Of The Car" CD and its vinyl predecessor have been part of the backbone of our Modern-derived releases for over 20 years, and it fully merits the revised expansion (and retitling) it will be receiving in late 2004. Before that happens, we're proud to present What-Rickey-Did-Next in the form of "Have Louie Will Travel" - the first ever anthology of Berry's complete Flip recordings, and also of those he made, post-Flip, for and with maverick record producer Gary Paxton.
This is an important collection in so many ways. For starters, it contains the original versions of two of rock'n'roll's greatest anthems in Louie, Louie and Have Love, Will Travel. This alone would be enough to qualify the "important" word. But aside from that, the CD is an invaluable documentation of R&B's evolution into early soul, and how easy the transition from one thing to the other was for Richard Berry. Tracks like Walk Right In and, especially, No Room - Richard's own favourite of all of his recordings and compositions - show that, like his contemporary Ray Charles, he had "soul" sussed and sorted long before the world decided it was an appropriate word to describe new 1960s developments in black music.
There are also a number of exquisite doo wop sides that feature both the Pharaohs and Richard's distaff proteges the Dreamers (who were also sometimes Lockettes, but don't get me started). In spite of Ace's extensive Flip Records reissue programme, several of these have never been reissued prior to this CD. And never issued ANYwhere in the world prior to this CD, are the many demos that enhance the second half of our programme. These all feature Richard overdubbing everything and show that, whoever else he sung with, he could do it by himself just as well, if not better. To our knowledge, not even one of the Gary Paxton masters has ever been reissued before, which only makes this CD even more of an essential purchase for all serious students of doo wop and early soul.
With many wonderful period photographs, reproduced by kind permission of Richard's estate, and a superb sleevenote by the world's #1 Richard Berry fan and expert Eric Predoehl, "Have Louie Will Travel" should be in your shopping trolley quicker than you can say 'Me Gotta Go'.
Me gotta go and play it again!
by TONY ROUNCE