There are precedents. The Dave Clark Five had hits with two completely different songs called Everybody Knows. Francoise Hardy issued, in three successive years, three LPs entitled simply “Francoise Hardy”. Those of you who have followed the rise and rise of Ace Records for as long as this writer will fondly remember when the label, then still called Chiswick, issued their very first LP, catalogue number CH 1 (which is why, younger readers, Ace issue numbers still bear a CH prefix), entitled “Hollywood Rock’n’Roll”. As it emerged blinking from behind the counter of Rock On in Camden Town, Ted Carroll’s pride in it was plain for all to see. I think he covered most of the shop’s front window with copies of the LP’s sleeve.
Now, over a thousand releases later, here’s a new Ace album with the same title – well almost, what’s a “Record Hop” between friends? But whereas that debut LP contained white rock’n’roll by artists such as Glen Glenn and Alis Lesley, very much of its era, this one is something else: a hot brew of (mainly) rocking rhythm & blues, and far better than its original teenage buyers had a right to expect for its measly 98 cents price tag. It was the follow-up to “Rock’n’Roll Dance Party”, issued on the Bihari brothers’ Crown label and, like that one, it came out twice with slightly different tracks.
Knowing Ace as you do, and knowing compiler Tony Rounce’s affection for BOGOFs, you won’t be surprised that the CD includes all the tracks from both versions of the LP, plus nine more which have never been on any Ace CD before. Indeed, four tracks have escaped from the vaults for the first time ever. The Teen Queens’ classic Rock Everybody will rock everybody more than before, as it’s taken at a more sizzling tempo than the issued master, and Maxwell Davis’ instrumental cut Everybody Rockin’ sizzles right along behind it. Mercy Dee’s Rompin’ And Stompin’ is an unissued take which, because it lacks the sax break of the single master, showcases his piano playing in the middle section, and swings like a rusty axe too. Finally, Jesse Belvin’s Goodnight My Love, a classic “ender”, is heard here in a recently-discovered merger of bits from two different takes. You can’t hear the join.
As for the tracks which were on those original LPs, most are well-known, and deservedly so. From the opening Stranded In The Jungle onwards, there are some of the steamiest rockers ever recorded: just try keeping still to the Queens’ Oop Shoop, Young Jessie’s Mary Lou or Etta James’ Good Rocking Daddy (again, slightly different from the 45rpm version). On second thoughts, don’t even try. Ballad lovers are well served by numbers like the Cliques’ Girl In My Dreams (a perennial Jamaican favourite and bootlegged, whoops, on catalogue over there for many years) and Dolly Cooper’s naively charming off-target shot at stardom Teenage Prayer. The most poignant track, in view of recent reports of his live shows, is Joe Houston’s display of tenor saxophone mastery Blow Joe Blow.
The 26 tracks offer plenty to jive, stroll, smooch or even just listen to. Add the crystal-clear mastering by Nick Robbins, the typically authoritative liner notes by Tony Rounce, and the quality packaging, and you’ll see that the pride inherent in that first HOLLYWOOD ROCK’N’ROLL RECORD HOP is still intact 29 years later.
By Mike Atherton