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Let The Boogie Woogie Rock N Roll, TS (£16.00)
Let The Boogie Woogie Rock'n'Roll is the first in a series of Ace explorations of the Atlantic vaults. It kicks off in the early years of the label with 25 slices of primeval Stompers and Movers from the dawn of black Rock'n'Roll. Ray Charles, Joe Turner, The Clovers, Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters and LaVern Baker all mess around with the sound that was destined to be hip the world over, the beat that launched the next 50 years of Popular Music - and they called it Rock 'n' Roll. But this is the real deal, as the lesser-known Carmen Taylor, Hal Paige & his Blues Boys, The Regals, Frank 'Floorshow' Culley & His Band and Eunice Davis lay down the sound that stayed around and to this day treats the feet. The compilation is by Ray Topping with an introductory note from broadcaster and author of "Making Tracks - The Atlantic Story", Charlie Gillett.
A potted history...
By the time Atlantic boss Ahmet Ertegun's dentist invested some cash in the fledging label, Ahmet and partner Herb Abramson already had some experience in record production. But by the late 40s Broadway was seething with musicians and the new independents were in an ideal position to exploit this talent. Atlantic were as prolific as any of the other operations, up-turning the office furniture at night to create a space to record in.
In 50s America a vast number of independent record labels issued records, but none stayed the course like Atlantic. As the decade wore on, they increasingly cut records in other parts of the States and even in Europe. They explored the sounds of the South in the 60s, discovering the music of Memphis, Muscle Shoals and even Miami. They kept pace with the majors by making quality records with performers, producers and engineers whose commitment guaranteed that even the records that did not chart had an enduring quality.
The 60s means soul and once more Atlantic were in at the birth of a genre that Ray Charles had virtually invented. But by now Atlantic were not only making their own records with Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke and the Wicked Pickett but they were licensing in from Stax, Fame and distributing a bunch of other labels. They were the complete label.
By the late 60s Atlantic was a major force in the industry, with major rock acts from Cream to Iron Butterfly, though these are not represented in our series, which concentrates on the earlier genres. They continued to produce radical, independent records that still resonate. Dr John's 1967 Gris Gris album springs to mind as a record that was far ahead of its time and has now found a whole new audience.
They also had an extensive jazz catalogue largely run by Ahmet's brother Nesuhi in later years. Coltrane, Monk, Mingus and Mose all cut memorable sides for the label.
The second volume of our series will concentrate on the sweet soul music that was moving the shakers in the clubs this side of the Atlantic in the mid-60s. Next month sees the release of At The Club, a primer in the club sounds that the hip end of swinging London at the time was dancing and posing to. Paolo Hewitt is guest note writer and Ian McLagen of the Small Faces provides a suitably cryptic and affectionate reminiscence.
But this is only the beginning. Over the next months and years Ace will continue to explore the Atlantic vaults in its own inimitable way. No attempt is being made at being completist, but the themes and styles that Ace has become known for will recur throughout the series. There are compilations of Northern, Jazz formerly known as Acid, Deep Soul and Girl Singers as well as sideways looks at various single artists represented in a fresh way, and a couple of wild and wayward party records, just for the hell of it. The common factor is great music, and there was certainly plenty of that at Atlantic Records - the Granddaddy and the greatest of the independent record labels.