They say that as one gets older the passage of time becomes ever faster. That’s only true if you are not compiling CDs of music from bygone days. At the moment, and thanks in no small way to the “London American Label Year By Year” series, Peter Gibbon and I feel as though we’re permanently stuck in the late 1950 and early 1960s, reliving our youth over and over again in a skewed cross between Groundhog Day and Life On Mars. Roll over Doctor Who, and tell Gene Hunt the news.
The late 50s and early 60s are a long way from the worst years to find yourself reliving. I would bet that I am far from the only person here who, given the choice, would not permanently reset his personal controls for a one-way ticket to a similar time frame. However you slice it, the soundtrack to that period is worth abandoning DAB for in favour of the return of Fabulous 208, Juke Box Jury and ceaseless attempts to locate AFN’s signal.
The series continues to offer Ace fans their own personal time machine via some of the best American records of their era, all of which appeared on the cherished black-and-silver imprint. This month Ace’s equivalent of the TARDIS lands in 1959 – a pivotal year in popular music that managed to survive the US payola scandals, a UK printers strike, a failed experiment with stereo 45s (Sun and Specialty in stereo? Methinks not, thanks) and all attempts to kill off rock’n’roll and replace it with lots of people called Bobby and Frankie, to bring us some of the most wonderful and well-remembered recordings of that life-changing decade.
It’s a mark of how many great records came out on London in ’59 that only one of the tracks on our latest compilation is currently available elsewhere on Ace. Once again the diversity of the compilation reflects London’s own diversity of catalogue. (Inevitably nobody will like everything here – but, hey, Wink Martindale’s ‘Deck Of Cards’ was the label’s biggest seller of the year and that’s what the god of electronics invented that fast forward button on your CD player for.) Thanks to the foresight of the Decca (that’s D-E-C-C-A) record company in preserving the original production tapes for London 45s, we are again able to bring you more than 80% of the tracks featured from the same sources that were used to manufacture those 45s over 50 years ago.
Believe me, I could chat all day about this, but the TARDIS is making that funny noise it makes when it’s about to take off and we need to make sure that our next stop is 1963. All being well, we should land there early next year. If anyone would like to apply for the post of our glamorous sidekick, we’re still taking applications.
By Tony Rounce