You will hopefully have noticed that, of late, Ace has reinforced its commitment to the kind of music on which our catalogue was founded. My fellow compilers’ vault raids in South Louisiana have brought the excellent “…By The Bayou” series to life, and that series is now being complemented by compilations drawn from New Orleans’ Ric and Ron labels.
In four years of active existence, Ric and Ron chronicled the changes in Crescent City R&B as it evolved into soul. Label boss Joe Ruffino’s roster was populated by top-tier talent – including several artists who are now regarded as legends. He employed only the best A&R men and musicians, and recorded at Cosimo Matassa’s revered studio for the authentic local sound. It’s somewhat surprising the labels produced so few national hits, but Ric and Ron records were often much bigger sellers in the southern states than many which did chart nationally.
“Ain’t It The Truth! The Ric & Ron Story Volume 2” takes up from where the first volume left off at the end of 1960, and follows through to early 1963, shortly after Ruffino’s death. All the labels’ biggest artists of the period are featured, including Tommy Ridgley, Eddie Bo and Johnny Adams, along with a selection of rare demos that make their CD debuts.
Some of the greatest New Orleans jukebox hits of the period are featured, including Johnny Adams’ ‘A Losing Battle’, Tommy Ridgley’s ‘Should I Ever Love Again’ and Eddie Bo’s ‘Check Mr Popeye’, along with titles by Warren Lee and Jimmy “Skip” Easterling, future mainstays of the area’s soul scene. Almost all tracks are mastered from fresh transfers of the original Ric and Ron tapes. You will never have heard them sounding as good as they do here.
By Tony Rounce