Judging by the extremely positive response to our first three releases by Oscar McLollie, Hadda Brooks and Gene Phillips, most of you like the Ace "10 Inch CD" series. Good for you, and good for us, 'cos that means we can carry on using it to bring you even more great music by artists who don't otherwise have enough material to make up a "full sized 12 inch" equivalent.
So far the CDs have drawn their repertoire exclusively from Modern Records and its subsidiaries. However, the series was never meant to be exclusively for Modern, and we'll certainly be using it to showcase additional repertoire drawn from other Ace-owned catalogues such as Combo, Sensation and the John Dolphin group of labels. Indeed, it's from Sensation's stockpile of masters that this month's big 10 incher is drawn, as we bring you a rather splendid dozen and a half tracks by a man whose musical career spanned five decades - and embraced vaudeville, swing, bobbysoxers, be-bop, R&B and rock'n'roll - but whose entire recorded output amounts to not even three dozen tracks, including alternate takes!
As "Great Unknowns" go, Arnold "Doc" Wiley is both - great and (relatively) unknown. Indeed - until fairly recently, almost nothing at all was known about his personal life. Intrepid bluesologist Paul Swinton tracked down Wiley's niece Irene not so long ago, and it's thanks to Paul (who provided the notes) and Irene (who provided the only known photographs of her late uncle) that we are able to present this CD with an attractive booklet rather than a blank square of card! A much in-demand accompanist and a much-travelled musician, Wiley pitched up in Detroit for a while in the late 1940s and it was there that Sensation Records' prexy Bernard Besman recorded sixteen sides and some very acceptable alternate takes on the good Doctor and his medicinal - sorry, musical - accompanists.
Only four of the tracks were released contemporaneously, leaving the other twelve to languish in acetate obscurity for the ensuing 45 years. When you hear them, you will be hard-pressed to understand why, as the Wiley trio was as engaging an outfit as any of its more popular contemporaries, and the Doctor himself was both a capable piano man and an engaging singer with a style pitched somewhere between those of Amos Milburn and Fats Waller. Happily they need languish no longer, as they have now become part of our ongoing Sensation reissue programme and are presented here in this terrific three quarters of an hour's worth of consummate cocktail R&B and boogie.
The instrumentals are truly groovy, while Wiley reveals himself to be a big fan of Joe Turner, Lonnie Johnson and Leroy Carr (as well as Fats W) on the vocal cuts, which range from Tin Pan Alley hits to acknowledged blues classics. etrack readers can believe me when I say that this will be as big a treat for most of you as it was for me when I first auditioned the repertoire for reissue. Here's a Doctor's prescription that can and should be taken anytime you're feeling a bit low - it may not make you well, but it'll certainly make you Feelgood!"
by Tony Rounce