All good things must come to an end. And so it is that, having reached Volume 5 this month, we bid a fond farewell to “The Ace Story”. There’s enough good stuff left in the vaults of Johnny Vincent’s label to fill five more CDs, but our original plan was to expand the albums we put out in the late 70s and early 80s, so we’re stopping here – for now, at least – in the knowledge we have built a library of compilations that show the venerable imprint in its very best light.
From his home base of Jackson, Mississippi, Johnny Vincent established his place in R&B/rock’n’roll history by recording some of the best artists and best music ever to find their way out of the American South. Just about all of Ace’s most significant artists are featured here, from rambunctious Texas bluesman Frankie Lee Sims and local R&B heroes Eddie Bo and Earl King to the label’s musical backbone Huey Smith and its biggest selling artist Jimmy Clanton. All of them are represented by some of the best music they ever recorded.
We’ve had to make a slight modification to the original vinyl LP, as Edgar Blanchard’s ‘Let’s Get It’ was not contractually available this time around. We’ve augmented the rest of the track listing with a superb selection of extras, many of them unavailable on CD for many years and at least a couple totally new to CD.
Along the way you’ll hear ultra-rare and uproarious Tennessee rockin’ courtesy of future “Memphis Boy” Bobby Wood, the original version of ‘Sea Cruise’ by Huey Smith and lady Clown Gerri Hall, what happens when Louisiana rockabilly meets Crescent City rock’n’roll courtesy of Jimmie Lee Fautheree (aka Johnny Angel), the debut recording of soul star Lee Dorsey, a rare re-cut of Sugar Boy Crawford’s signature song ‘Jockomo’ (aka ‘Iko Iko’) and so much more besides.
As always, the booklet is copiously annotated and illustrated with as many label shots and period ads and ephemera as we could muster for the occasion. The whole package is remastered from brand new transfers of the original Ace tapes – or, where original tapes no longer exist, fresh dubs of the best condition 45s we could locate. Even if you have some of these tracks elsewhere, you probably won’t have them heard them sound as good as they do here.
By Tony Rounce