Features

2012 Year End Poll

Busy as we are with our own projects, the Ace A&R collective are still first and foremost music fans and enjoy listening to the compilations our colleagues produce.

Every December we study the year’s releases, and whittle them down to the five we’ve enjoyed most. Website obergruppenfuhrer Neil’s sole rule is we don’t use this as an opportunity for a blatant plug for Ones That We Made Earlier, and pick a maximum of two of our own projects – easy enough, when everyone is coming up with grand ideas all the time!

We’ve also each thrown in a Cuckoo In The Nest: an endorsement of a fine CD, not originated at Ace Towers, that has enriched our lives during the past twelvemonth, and one we recommend you check out once you’ve finished spending your hard-earned cash with us…

We’re not sure what our fab fives will tell you about our tastes –– but we hope that they might encourage y’all to indulge in further investigation of some things you might have missed.

Eyes down, look in, here we go!

 

Selected releases


  • Tony Rounce

  • Arguments over who the greatest rock’n’roll songwriter is will abound long after those reading this have gone to meet their maker. But surely near the top of everyone’s list of contenders would have to be Otis Blackwell, a one-man hit factory whose catalogue includes more classic rock’n’roll songs than any other single songwriter of his time. His compositions for Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis alone would guarantee his entry into every music Hall Of Fame.

  • Spread the news. Reclusive folk-rock singer/songwriter Bob Lind – he of the classic 1966 megahit ‘Elusive Butterfly’ – has just released his first studio album in more than 40 years! “Finding You Again” demonstrates conclusively that genius can continue to flourish, even into an artist’s advancing years.

  • Those who feared that Ace’s commitment to the Stax cause has been sidelined by our work on other catalogues of Southern Soul music are in for a treat as we bring you two long-overdue and very-welcome projects from the most fingerclickin’ good label of all time. None of the three female acts featured across the two projects (Hot Sauce, Jeanne & The Darlings and the Charmels) ever had an album release of their own – although one almost did, and the other two recorded enough material during their time on McLemore Avenue to put together an album apiece. Extremely good material, too, as you’ll hear on both CDs.

  • Rave ups don’t come any wilder than ‘Road Block’ by the Wheels, who keep the party going on this CD of their complete output, 1965-1966. Tough, shouting R&B vocals and crunching riffs from Belfast’s other great combo.

  • Clarence Carter’s time at Fame produced some of the most soulful grooves ever. This volume covers his label debut through to the cusp of his international breakthrough. All tracks are sourced from the Fame master tapes for the first time in the CD era.


  • Tony's Cuckoo In The Nest

    My 'Cuckoo In The Nest' for 2012 couldn't really be anything else but… 

    ELVIS PRESLEY – A BOY FROM TUPELO – THE COMPLETE 1953-55 RECORDINGS (3CDs +  512 PAGE BOOK IN A BOXED SET) (FOLLOW THAT DREAM/RCA/SONY) 

    …my sincere apologies to anyone who I may have offended by not including the many worthy examples of their compiling and annotational skills.

     

  • Roger Armstrong

  • Dan Penn is recognised as one of the great songsmiths of the past 50 years. Music historian Peter Guralnick once described him as the “secret hero” of 60s R&B. For many, Penn’s material defines the essence of southern soul writing, but his catalogue also retains the ability to transcend musical barriers; classics such as ‘I’m Your Puppet’ and ‘Do Right Woman’ have scaled the pop and country charts in equal measure. With his principal collaborator Spooner Oldham, Penn lent R&B songwriting a class and eloquence that has rarely been bettered.

  • It should surprise no-one that Allen Toussaint has been added to Ace’s songwriter series. In a career that’s in its seventh decade, this quietly spoken, modest son of New Orleans has written some of the greatest hits ever to grace the Great American Songbook. And on his own, too – there can be very few black American composers who have written so many successful songs without the aid of a collaborator. Between 1960 and 1980, barely a week went by without his compositions appearing on the R&B or Hot 100 charts. Some were subsequently revived, in multiple versions, and often with renewed success. Most of them are the kind of popular music standards of which any songwriter would be proud.

  • This CD is a look at the Kent label’s Northern Soul history, heritage and future. There’s more to Kent than just Northern Soul, but that’s how we started in 1982 when Mary Love’s ‘You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet’ kicked off the “For Dancers Only” vinyl album. We covered the ballad side recently on “Deep Shadows: The Best Of Kent Ballads” CDKEND 342.

  • The highly limited edition “Fame Singles Box” is something very special indeed. Within its packaging can be found faithful facsimiles of four of the rarest Fame singles from the 1960s, including the company’s first ever 45, by the Del Rays, Northern Soul classics by James Barnett and Art Freeman, and Jimmy Hughes’ Island Soul rarity ‘You Might As Well Forget Him’, plus a bonus, a previously unissued test pressing. Packaged in homage of Fame’s own original mailout envelopes, this will be snapped up quickly by the thousands who queue outside their nearest participating stores.

  • The Cajun people of the plains and swamps of South Louisiana are steeped in music with a raw edge. Prior to World War II the music of the bayous was Cajun; the only real changes were the shift from accordion to fiddle as the lead instrument. The war changed all that. The thousands of Cajun men who served, many of them musicians, were exposed to other music forms; the influences – most notably blues and rhythm, as it was then called, and hillbilly – crept into their songs.


  • Ted Carroll

  • Willy DeVille (1950-2009) stands as a genuine American musical maverick. And Ace Records are proud to announce that they will reissue four lost DeVille albums over the coming months. I say “lost” as they were originally released by the long-defunct French label FNAC in the early-1990s. Across the Continent these records established DeVille as a huge star yet they were never released in Britain. To those of us who consider him not just underrated but one of the most talented singers and songwriters of the late-20th Century their reissue is something to celebrate

  • Clarence Carter’s time at Fame produced some of the most soulful grooves ever. This volume covers his label debut through to the cusp of his international breakthrough. All tracks are sourced from the Fame master tapes for the first time in the CD era.

  • The Cajun people of the plains and swamps of South Louisiana are steeped in music with a raw edge. Prior to World War II the music of the bayous was Cajun; the only real changes were the shift from accordion to fiddle as the lead instrument. The war changed all that. The thousands of Cajun men who served, many of them musicians, were exposed to other music forms; the influences – most notably blues and rhythm, as it was then called, and hillbilly – crept into their songs.

  • The line that separates the genres of country and soul music has never been a particularly thick one and over the decades there has been a healthy swapping of repertoire between the genres. Jimmie Rodgers, country music’s first superstar, established himself by putting a hillbilly spin on delta blues – and that was back in the late 1920s. Most 60s soul singers who grew up in the segregated American south in the 30s and 40s probably heard more country music on the radio than they did blues or jazz, as there was little to no radio programming devoted to music for black people. It’s therefore no surprise to find that there were so many classic adaptations of great country songs during the golden age of soul music.

  • It may surprise some readers to learn that many musicians from South Louisiana do not like their music to be categorised as swamp pop (a term coined originally by music writer Bill Millar). For the rest of us, it feels like the perfect way to describe the rolling rhythms and unique vocals that define the great records which came out of the area between the latter 1950s and the mid-60s. Whether he would have liked to be defined by said term or not, Louisiana’s Joe Barry is one of the greatest exponents of the genre, and the recordings that he made between 1959 and 1964 in particular embrace many of its most treasured moments.


  • Ady Croasdell

  • “Absolutely Right! The Complete Tiger, Loma and Warner Bros Recordings”, the Apollas’ impeccable mid-60s oeuvre collected in one place, with the unexpected bonus of several unissued cuts, including Leola Jiles’ heartbreaking masterpiece ‘I’ve Got So Used To Loving You’.

  • Long before the Spinners amassed a stack of gold albums and singles with producer Thom Bell at Atlantic Records in the 70s, they spent eight years working hard at Motown. For the first four of those years, the period covered by this CD, the group recorded some very tasty tracks but had only four singles released.

  • There was a dilemma with compiling a CD of Darrow Fletcher’s recorded output in that he had two very distinctive periods to his career. The first part was the records he made in Chicago between 1965 and 1970, and then the handful of singles cut in Los Angeles in the second half of the 70s. As he was only 14 when he started recording, the two eras had quite a different feel.

  • This CD is a look at the Kent label’s Northern Soul history, heritage and future. There’s more to Kent than just Northern Soul, but that’s how we started in 1982 when Mary Love’s ‘You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet’ kicked off the “For Dancers Only” vinyl album. We covered the ballad side recently on “Deep Shadows: The Best Of Kent Ballads” CDKEND 342.

  • Dan Penn is recognised as one of the great songsmiths of the past 50 years. Music historian Peter Guralnick once described him as the “secret hero” of 60s R&B. For many, Penn’s material defines the essence of southern soul writing, but his catalogue also retains the ability to transcend musical barriers; classics such as ‘I’m Your Puppet’ and ‘Do Right Woman’ have scaled the pop and country charts in equal measure. With his principal collaborator Spooner Oldham, Penn lent R&B songwriting a class and eloquence that has rarely been bettered.


  • Trevor Churchill

  • The highly limited edition “Fame Singles Box” is something very special indeed. Within its packaging can be found faithful facsimiles of four of the rarest Fame singles from the 1960s, including the company’s first ever 45, by the Del Rays, Northern Soul classics by James Barnett and Art Freeman, and Jimmy Hughes’ Island Soul rarity ‘You Might As Well Forget Him’, plus a bonus, a previously unissued test pressing. Packaged in homage of Fame’s own original mailout envelopes, this will be snapped up quickly by the thousands who queue outside their nearest participating stores.

  • Dan Penn is recognised as one of the great songsmiths of the past 50 years. Music historian Peter Guralnick once described him as the “secret hero” of 60s R&B. For many, Penn’s material defines the essence of southern soul writing, but his catalogue also retains the ability to transcend musical barriers; classics such as ‘I’m Your Puppet’ and ‘Do Right Woman’ have scaled the pop and country charts in equal measure. With his principal collaborator Spooner Oldham, Penn lent R&B songwriting a class and eloquence that has rarely been bettered.

  • The three albums Gil Scott-Heron recorded for Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman label are some of the most important in the history of black music. They show a multi-talented artist reaching maturity with his first recorded efforts. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ transcended its place as an album track to become an aphorism, a slogan on a T-shirt, omnipresent shorthand for alternative culture. Over the years these recordings have been treated in a haphazard way, reissued in cheaply packaged collections that used edited versions of some of the most important tracks. “The Revolution Begins” gathers together every piece of music released by Gil on Flying Dutchman, including a track recorded with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie which has never been previously reissued. We have gone back to the original master tapes, bringing you sound that’s better than you’ll ever have heard and new clarity to Gil’s words and the musical performances.

  • The Cajun people of the plains and swamps of South Louisiana are steeped in music with a raw edge. Prior to World War II the music of the bayous was Cajun; the only real changes were the shift from accordion to fiddle as the lead instrument. The war changed all that. The thousands of Cajun men who served, many of them musicians, were exposed to other music forms; the influences – most notably blues and rhythm, as it was then called, and hillbilly – crept into their songs.

  • It was around the end of 1986, when the new wave rockabilly scene had passed its peak, that four friends and I, who had all been on the scene in one way or another since the late 70s, decided to start a doo wop group. It wasn’t until we were choosing which songs to attempt that we realised we all had a love of groups such as the Passions, Elegants, Mystics, Imaginations, Jay & the Americans and, last but not least, Dion & the Belmonts. After a few name and personnel changes we find ourselves 25 years and 11 CDs later.


  • Trevor's Cuckoo In The Nest

    Duane Eddy – Road Trip – Mad Monkey MAD 1.


  • Mick Patrick

  • Film directors have always been lionised by their industry and by fans who made household names of Ford, Hitchcock and Spielberg. On the other hand, Phil Spector notwithstanding, record producers have by-and-large laboured in near-anonymity outside the music business and the most devoted of followers. To help remedy that situation, a few years back, we instigated our Producers series, spotlighting the studio outputs of Jack Nitzsche, Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns, Kim Fowley, Brian Wilson, Martin Hammet and other visionaries who lived to bring the sounds in their heads to the grooves of a record. Another master of the art is John Cale.

  • Many artists have fallen into the music business almost by accident, but few as accidentally as the subject of our latest Motown collection: Eddie Holland, who attended an audition with a pal just to keep him company, and ended up the one with a recording contract. And many have had a single hit, and after a few unsuccessful years have given up their recording careers to take up a position in some other part of the business, but few with such spectacular results as Eddie, who together with his brother Brian and Lamont Dozier formed Holland-Dozier-Holland, one of the most successful songwriting teams of the 1960s.

  • “Absolutely Right! The Complete Tiger, Loma and Warner Bros Recordings”, the Apollas’ impeccable mid-60s oeuvre collected in one place, with the unexpected bonus of several unissued cuts, including Leola Jiles’ heartbreaking masterpiece ‘I’ve Got So Used To Loving You’.

  • The line that separates the genres of country and soul music has never been a particularly thick one and over the decades there has been a healthy swapping of repertoire between the genres. Jimmie Rodgers, country music’s first superstar, established himself by putting a hillbilly spin on delta blues – and that was back in the late 1920s. Most 60s soul singers who grew up in the segregated American south in the 30s and 40s probably heard more country music on the radio than they did blues or jazz, as there was little to no radio programming devoted to music for black people. It’s therefore no surprise to find that there were so many classic adaptations of great country songs during the golden age of soul music.

  • Dan Penn is recognised as one of the great songsmiths of the past 50 years. Music historian Peter Guralnick once described him as the “secret hero” of 60s R&B. For many, Penn’s material defines the essence of southern soul writing, but his catalogue also retains the ability to transcend musical barriers; classics such as ‘I’m Your Puppet’ and ‘Do Right Woman’ have scaled the pop and country charts in equal measure. With his principal collaborator Spooner Oldham, Penn lent R&B songwriting a class and eloquence that has rarely been bettered.


  • Mick's Cuckoo In The Nest

    Very hard to choose, but: 

    Hip-O Select B0016193-02 The Marvelettes - The Complete Motown Albums Volume 2


  • Alec Palao

  • The Cajun people of the plains and swamps of South Louisiana are steeped in music with a raw edge. Prior to World War II the music of the bayous was Cajun; the only real changes were the shift from accordion to fiddle as the lead instrument. The war changed all that. The thousands of Cajun men who served, many of them musicians, were exposed to other music forms; the influences – most notably blues and rhythm, as it was then called, and hillbilly – crept into their songs.

  • The three albums Gil Scott-Heron recorded for Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman label are some of the most important in the history of black music. They show a multi-talented artist reaching maturity with his first recorded efforts. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ transcended its place as an album track to become an aphorism, a slogan on a T-shirt, omnipresent shorthand for alternative culture. Over the years these recordings have been treated in a haphazard way, reissued in cheaply packaged collections that used edited versions of some of the most important tracks. “The Revolution Begins” gathers together every piece of music released by Gil on Flying Dutchman, including a track recorded with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie which has never been previously reissued. We have gone back to the original master tapes, bringing you sound that’s better than you’ll ever have heard and new clarity to Gil’s words and the musical performances.

  • The notes for this CD came in at a whopping 16,000 words (half a book I’m told), but they were easier to write than a studied piece on a record label. When writing musical history there are a heck of a lot of facts to research and you can spend an hour getting a troublesome sentence verified. In this case, as the organiser of 20 Northern Soul Weekenders held in the noble town of Cleethorpes, I merely had to Google myself.

  • Only New York City, that greatest of melting pots, could have produced Laura Nyro. A distinctive musician, an uncompromising vocalist and a great writer whose songs sold millions, but whose records did not, Nyro the performer was possibly too “out there” for mass consumption. Her lyrics were often obscure, but her glorious melodies meant that, in more mainstream interpretation, other artists enjoyed massive commercial success with her material. The performers contained on this collection reflect Nyro’s devoted fanbase, which pretty much consists of women and gay men, and are drawn from the worlds of soul, pop, gospel, jazz and beyond. The songs are drawn exclusively from her classic first four albums: “More Than A New Discovery”, “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession”, “New York Tendaberry” and “Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat”, issued between 1967 and 1970. Key tracks include ‘Sweet Blindness’ by the 5th Dimension, ‘Save The Country’ by Thelma Houston, ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ by Bobbie Gentry and new-to-CD rarities by Melba Moore, the Blossoms and Peggy Lipton. 

  • Kent Harris’ strong point was undoubtedly his witty and topical lyrics, allied to having his ear to the ground for the latest trends in black music. His most famous work – ‘Clothes Line’, recorded under his alias Boogaloo & His Gallant Crew – was plundered by Leiber and Stoller for the Coasters’ ‘Shoppin’ For Clothes’ and is already out on an Ace compilation. All four of his Crest sides are humorous, streetwise and down with the groove of the day. ‘Big Fat Lie’ concerns a visit to the pawnbrokers, which a lot of black audiences could relate to in the 50s. Other novelty songs include ‘Big Chief Hug-Um An’ Kiss-Um’ by James Shaw, later to be known more grandly as the Mighty Hannibal, and the newly-discovered Boogaloo recording ‘I’m In The Dog House Again’. He’s so late back his woman won’t let him into the house and he has to kip down with the dog. ‘Double Locks’, which Kent wrote for Johnny Gosey, deals with an angry landlady putting locks on the tenant’s crib until the back rent is paid.


  • Dean Rudland

  • The line that separates the genres of country and soul music has never been a particularly thick one and over the decades there has been a healthy swapping of repertoire between the genres. Jimmie Rodgers, country music’s first superstar, established himself by putting a hillbilly spin on delta blues – and that was back in the late 1920s. Most 60s soul singers who grew up in the segregated American south in the 30s and 40s probably heard more country music on the radio than they did blues or jazz, as there was little to no radio programming devoted to music for black people. It’s therefore no surprise to find that there were so many classic adaptations of great country songs during the golden age of soul music.

  • Only New York City, that greatest of melting pots, could have produced Laura Nyro. A distinctive musician, an uncompromising vocalist and a great writer whose songs sold millions, but whose records did not, Nyro the performer was possibly too “out there” for mass consumption. Her lyrics were often obscure, but her glorious melodies meant that, in more mainstream interpretation, other artists enjoyed massive commercial success with her material. The performers contained on this collection reflect Nyro’s devoted fanbase, which pretty much consists of women and gay men, and are drawn from the worlds of soul, pop, gospel, jazz and beyond. The songs are drawn exclusively from her classic first four albums: “More Than A New Discovery”, “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession”, “New York Tendaberry” and “Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat”, issued between 1967 and 1970. Key tracks include ‘Sweet Blindness’ by the 5th Dimension, ‘Save The Country’ by Thelma Houston, ‘Wedding Bell Blues’ by Bobbie Gentry and new-to-CD rarities by Melba Moore, the Blossoms and Peggy Lipton. 

  • The three albums Gil Scott-Heron recorded for Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman label are some of the most important in the history of black music. They show a multi-talented artist reaching maturity with his first recorded efforts. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ transcended its place as an album track to become an aphorism, a slogan on a T-shirt, omnipresent shorthand for alternative culture. Over the years these recordings have been treated in a haphazard way, reissued in cheaply packaged collections that used edited versions of some of the most important tracks. “The Revolution Begins” gathers together every piece of music released by Gil on Flying Dutchman, including a track recorded with Bernard “Pretty” Purdie which has never been previously reissued. We have gone back to the original master tapes, bringing you sound that’s better than you’ll ever have heard and new clarity to Gil’s words and the musical performances.

  • Dan Penn is recognised as one of the great songsmiths of the past 50 years. Music historian Peter Guralnick once described him as the “secret hero” of 60s R&B. For many, Penn’s material defines the essence of southern soul writing, but his catalogue also retains the ability to transcend musical barriers; classics such as ‘I’m Your Puppet’ and ‘Do Right Woman’ have scaled the pop and country charts in equal measure. With his principal collaborator Spooner Oldham, Penn lent R&B songwriting a class and eloquence that has rarely been bettered.

  • Over the last couple of years Ace Records have been taking a long and leisurely look at the recording career of the exciting and unpredictable singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon. Their previous two compilations of her 1960s singles from the Liberty and Imperial labels, “You Won’t Forget Me” and “Come And Get Me”, have been replete with firm favourites and unexpected treats. Their new release, “Keep Me In Mind”, continues the story from 1967 through to 1970.


  • Dean's Cuckoo In The Nest

    That's Why - That's Why (Jazzman)

    The best Norwegian Christian vocal jazz you're ever likely to hear

     

  • Carol Fawcett

  • There’s no mistaking a Ramones song. The funny thing is, throughout their career, the band paid tribute to their roots and influences by peppering their albums with versions of their favourites by other artists, making them sound like Ramones songs too. To see what I mean, try listening to this CD without lurching into ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, ‘Carbona Not Glue’ or ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’.

  • Spread the news. Reclusive folk-rock singer/songwriter Bob Lind – he of the classic 1966 megahit ‘Elusive Butterfly’ – has just released his first studio album in more than 40 years! “Finding You Again” demonstrates conclusively that genius can continue to flourish, even into an artist’s advancing years.

  • The Cajun people of the plains and swamps of South Louisiana are steeped in music with a raw edge. Prior to World War II the music of the bayous was Cajun; the only real changes were the shift from accordion to fiddle as the lead instrument. The war changed all that. The thousands of Cajun men who served, many of them musicians, were exposed to other music forms; the influences – most notably blues and rhythm, as it was then called, and hillbilly – crept into their songs.

  • Dan Penn is recognised as one of the great songsmiths of the past 50 years. Music historian Peter Guralnick once described him as the “secret hero” of 60s R&B. For many, Penn’s material defines the essence of southern soul writing, but his catalogue also retains the ability to transcend musical barriers; classics such as ‘I’m Your Puppet’ and ‘Do Right Woman’ have scaled the pop and country charts in equal measure. With his principal collaborator Spooner Oldham, Penn lent R&B songwriting a class and eloquence that has rarely been bettered.

  • If ever there was a couplet to re-establish the early stance of Dion records, it can be found in ‘King Of The New York Streets’: “I didn’t need no bodyguard. I just ruled from my backyard”. This opening track on “Yo Frankie”, Dion’s 1989 album that has long been on Ace’s re-release wish list, sets the scene firmly amid the pavements and haunts of the Big Apple, recapturing in one song all the imagery and associations we have from the man’s classic 50s and early 60s hits.

© Ace records 2012