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Max Décharné (Flaming Stars)

Max Décharné's most recent insult to the tastes of the reading public was entitled Straight From The Fridge, Dad, A Dictionary Of Hipster Slang [an Ace Records Book Club recommendation], and he also torments them on a regular basis via the pages of MOJO. As the singer with Camden guitar-terrorists the Flaming Stars, he's released five albums and a bucket-load of singles since 1995. Don't miss his excellent new book too, Hardboiled Hollywood, The Origins Of The Great Crime Films.

Selected releases

  • James Carr - The Dark End of the Street

    Chips Moman and Dan Penn set out to write the best goddam cheatin' song in the world, and as far as I can see, they hit the jackpot. It's hard to imagine a finer juke-joint record, a song for all the lonesome souls hunched over a beer at the end of the bar. Like many other people, I first encountered this song in the beautiful version on the Burritos' "Gilded Palace Of Sin" LP, but right here's where they got it from. It just doesn't get any better than this.

  • Kip Tyler & The Flips - She's My Witch

    There's suave, ultra-suave and even, as the Legendary Stardust Cowboy would tell ya, psycho-suave, but the drawling, lazy-as-hell vocal and the mean'n'evil descending guitar line on Kip Tyler's LA hipster masterpiece pretty much out-suaves everybody. Memorably covered by Tav Falco's Panther Burns back during the synth-pop hell that was the 1980s, the original remains, as Barbey D'Aurevilly said of Beau Brummell, a lesson in elegance to the vulgar mind.

  • The Mystics - Sunday Kind Of Love

    Sure, 'Hushabye' was fine as wine and this here's a cover version, but of all the post-Dion & the Belmonts super-cool vocal group performances, for me this one hits those high notes right on the money. This will have to stand for all the great street-corner harmony recordings that Ace have reissued over the years, without which the world would most definitely be a sadder and more miserable place in which to drive a chopped and lowered '49 Merc.

  • Hal Harris - Jitterbop Baby

    First ran into this one on a killer Ace 10-inch called Rockabilly Party, back in about '78, which had a front cover so righteous I put it up on the wall. Recorded, according to Ray Topping's sleevenotes, at the end of a George Jones session, it's hard to believe that a performance as strong as this was never actually issued in the 50s. Outside of Elvis' Sun material and the Rock'n'Roll Trio's classic sides, the click of a rockabilly slap-bass was probably never more satisfyingly recorded than here. Throw in a classy, low-down vocal and a guitar solo that slicks your hair back an' parts it in the middle, and what you have here is a textbook example of the bop that just won't stop. 

  • Earl-Jean - I'm Into Something Good

    Earl-Jean McCree was a member of the Cookies, who had a US #7 hit in March 1963 with 'Don't Say Nothin' Bad (About My Baby)', and she'd also previously done time as one of Ray Charles' Raylettes, but this is where she really nailed it once and for all. In an era filled with great girl-group performances, this one still deserves to be much better-known than it is. Herman's Hermits? Not in this neck of the woods, Jack.

  • Richard Berry & The Pharoahs - Have Love Will Travel

    After years of making do with a cassette copy dubbed from someone's original single, it's a real pleasure to see Richard Berry's orginal cut of this song finally surface in a properly-mastered version. Full marks, a crate of booze and a foot-stompin' round of applause to the Sonics for their killer cover version, but Mister Berry here just plain swings, brothers'n'sisters, in a way that passeth all understanding. Decades of scraping a living and then they finally gave him back the rights to 'Louie Louie' and he pretty much became a millionaire overnight. On this evidence, he shoulda been riding around in brand new Cadillacs right from the word go.

  • The Bell Notes - I've Had It

    Here's a good example of something so primal it's just right , so right you couldn't imagine it any other way. You also couldn't imagine it ever getting within a hundred miles of the charts these days, but that's a sadder story than we've got space for. A US Top 10 hit that sounds more than a little like one of Roy Orbison's Sun demos, this one was kicked around to very good effect by Alex Chilton and Lonnie Mack in their own separate ways, but the 1959 original always brings a smile to my face. These guys were punks way before there was a CBGB to hang out in.

  • The Standells - Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White

    Last New Year's Eve I was DJing at a party in Berlin, and I wound up playing this at unreasonably loud volume to a dancefloor full of people who mostly wouldn't have known the Standells if they fell over them. Result? The place went crazy, and the kids, as they say, dug it the most, all of which goes to show that you can take the car out of the garage, but ya can't take the garage outta the dancehalls, no sir

  • Arthur Alexander - You Better Move On

    A couple of years ago I met one of the people who ran the Flamingo in Wardour Street, from the 50s and all through its heyday as an R&B mecca in the 60s. Martha & the Vandellas, Screamin' Jay, Otis Redding, he'd booked them all. What he couldn't understand was that mostly I wanted to hear stories about the shows that Arthur Alexander played at his club, but ever since I bought Ace's Arthur Alexander Shot of Rhythm & Soul album back in the early 80s, I've been hooked. A first-rate songwriter with a voice that's up there with the all-time greats, that's one hell of a combination. If 'The Girl That Radiates That Charm' was still in the catalogue, then I know I'd probably have gone for that, but it doesn't matter, Arthur was pure class, and if he'd never recorded anything else except 'You Better Move On', he'd still be one of the best there ever was. 

  • Roy Milton & His Solid Senders 'Milton's Boogie' (currently unavailable)

    Back in Portsmouth where I grew up we had a local radio DJ in the mid 1970s who was given one hour a week to spin stuff on a show called Pompey Rock, and he must have had a thing about Specialty Records. Little Richard, Don & Dewey, Lights Out by Jerry Byrne , he played them all, and one Saturday I caught the awesome sound of Roy Milton's combo jumping out of the radio like runaway train. Recorded just after World War II at a time when boogie woogie was king, you can practically hear Jackie Brenston's Rocket 88 waiting in the wings, revving up its engine. Solid, and, indeed, a sender.