To no one’s surprise, the “London American Year By Year” series has proven to be an instant success for Ace. The combination of nostalgia for both the era that the series will cover and for the label itself, not to mention the prospect of owning hundreds more vintage gems on Ace CD for the first time, has ensured that – as the late Fergus Cashin of the Daily Sketch might have put it - “this one will run and run”.
Indeed, such is the demand for future volumes that we’ve already stepped up the scheduling of LAYBY from two to three times a year. (Well, your compilers will both be well into their seventies by the time of the intended final volume, and like you we’d prefer to live to see the series through to its grand finale – thus it seemed a sensible thing to do…). Fans can expect this January release of this 1961 volume to be followed by 1962 in October, with our first backtrack to 1959 as the tasty filler for this musical sandwich in June. We’d like to step that schedule up even more if we could – but as you can imagine, each volume is a mammoth undertaking for Ace’s licensing department, not to mention the amount of work that goes into sourcing the original London tapes and the matching the audio to the sound of the original 45s by the guys at Sound Mastering. These things just do not happen overnight, and we do need to put some other CDs out in between and around these releases to stay in business, y’know…
All this notwithstanding, we kick off the ‘tennies’ with LAYBY 1961, which we feel more than upholds the standard set by its acclaimed predecessor. One of the main promises we made to the collector was that each volume would feature at least 20 tracks that were new to Ace CD. On this occasion, only one of the featured tracks has ever been heard on Ace before (Timi Yuro’s ‘Hurt’). This is quite astounding when one considers that debutantes here include Eddie Cochran’s ‘Weekend’, Del Shannon’s ‘So Long Baby’ and Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘What’d I Say’, to name but three. It really does demonstrate how much rock ‘n’ roll gold there still is in ‘them thar hills’ to mine, doesn’t it?
As ever, there’s extensive track-by-track commentary, with a shot of every featured London 45 to complement the annotation. An intro by long-time London collector Roger Cope perfectly sums up the feelings of everyone who ever put their pocket money or part of a meagre pay packet towards the purchase of one or more of these goodies, your compilers included. And the best news of all is that all of the songs run for less than two and a half minutes, so if there’s something here you don’t like (and we truthfully don’t expect everyone to enjoy everything that’s on offer across the series) you’re seldom more than 150 seconds away from something that you will!”
By Tony Rounce