Ace Records History Part 5
The “Miami Rockabilly” CD finally appeared from the glades, with its tale of a ‘Knocked Out Joint On Mars’ from Buck Trail and Curley Jim with ‘The Rock’n’Roll Itch’ — boy, is he anxious to tell us all about it. Screamin’ rockabilly from the bastard offspring of the Memphis Flash. Well worth the wait. Later in the year, Benny Joy “Crashed The Rockabilly Party” with very distinct versions of the album’s title track and dance hall perennial ‘Spin The Bottle’. The records were originally on Antler, a label owned by Platters manager Buck Ram.
Released in Britain in 1958 on Capitol Records, The “Johnny Otis Show” LP will forever be a rock’n’roll reference point of a generation — especially with that fabulous cover shot of the whole revue. In 1998 Ace rewrote the history with a fabulous fresh out-take shot of the original iconic cover and a matching re-compilation which highlighted the rockin’ tracks for “The Greatest Johnny Otis Show”.
Benny Joy (L)
In his search for the “Fabulous Wailers” on Golden Crest Records, John Broven managed to marry the owner’s daughter, Shelley. Not to be confused with the reggae group of the same name, the Wailers were a mainly instrumental combo best known for the moody ‘Tall Cool One’, but arguably they should be known for ‘Dirty Robber’, regarded by many as the first garage band record. The band went on to become part of the original Seattle sound, forming the Etiquette label that issued the Sonics’ recordings. From Golden Crest also came one of the great oddities of the record collecting business, the super rare “On The Road With Rock‘n’Roll” by Mando and the Chilli Peppers - a Latino group who washed up in Denver and cut for the Long Island-based label. On the back cover of our re-issue, Billy Gibbons gives it his highest recommendation.
The “Domino Story” finally came to fruition three years after we had acquired the label. It takes time to get these things right. The almost big hit ‘You Cheated’ by the Slades was on there, alongside Joyce Harris’s retort ‘I Cheated’ - and there we there, thinking they were nice middle-class folk.
Another label anthology was Connie La Rocca’s “Frisco Records”, a superb collection of New Orleans R&B, soulful and light on the second line rhythm. Many of the sides were by Danny White - his ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye’ was the star track. But there were also great sides from Willie West who had releases on other labels including Checker.
A well overdue collection of the ‘Susie-Q’ man Dale Hawkins’ Checker sides came out. Trevor had worked with Dale when he was at Bell- which contact resulted in a surprise visit from the man himself, who still walked the walk.
The pop that just won’t stop continued with great flurries of releases by Rick Nelson, Dion and assorted Belmonts.
An experiment that didn’t come off was issuing a radio documentary on CD. Kevin Howlett could not get the BBC to take his Art Rupe/Specialty story piece, so we were very pleased to issue it - though it was very much a service to humanity and a tribute to Art rather than a contribution to the Ace bank account.
We produced the first Kent contribution to the Dave Hamilton story with some “Detroit Dancers”. It featured, among others, Tobi Lark, O.C. Tolbert and two tracks by Little Ann that were to contribute very much to the bottom line 15 years later. ‘Lean Lanky Daddy’ and ‘Deep Shadows’ both attracted a lot of sync — the industry word for tracks used in adverts. Unfortunately, Little Ann didn’t live to reap the rewards, but she did make it over for one of Ady’s Cleethorpes Weekenders and so got at least some recognition. The whole saga is made more remarkable by the fact that she only ever had one single released in the 60s.
Bill Haney was an Atlanta-based producer who mainly cut at the downbeat end of the soul spectrum. The surprise of this and the second volume were a pair of previously unissued Arthur Alexander performances.
We put out a long overdue box set from McLemore Avenue residents, Booker T Jones, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Al Jackson. It was a career overview stretching from 1962’s ‘Green Onions’ through to a 1994 concert, with Boz Scaggs guesting on vocals. It closed with Neil Young singing ‘Dock Of The Bay’. But it is Disc 1 and 2 which contain the inimitable sound of Booker T & The MGs honed over many hours of sessions in the Stax studio.
We have a confession to make. The “Shorty The Pimp” movie doesn’t exist. What happened is we had two Don Julian albums, mainly containing covers, and not bad at all but not in demand, apart from ‘Shorty The Pimp’. But that title was so good we invented a Blaxploitation movie to go with it — there is even an outline of its plot in the CD booklet.
There were three lovely blues records cut for Takoma in the mid-60s by Bukka White, Robert Pete Williams and Dr Isaiah Ross, all connected to the pre-war blues era and welcome additions to our catalogue.
In a change from our policy of buying west coast blues and R&B labels, we took on a west coast rock and pop catalogue. Frank Werber’s Trident production company was active in the mid-60s, having chart success with We Three. Werber’s day job was managing the anodyne Kingston Trio, but with the Mystery Trend, Blackburn and Snow and the Sons Of Champlin he made robust and intelligent pop music. The other great writer he had was ex-Charlatan Dan Hicks. We opened our Trident account with a bunch of previously unheard Hicks performances including early versions of ‘Canned Music’ and ‘O’Reilly At The Bar’, later cut with the Hot Licks.
Only two LPs were issued — the lowest figure since 1977.
Find of the year – Bert Jansch tapes recorded live inGlasgowby Frank Coia in 1962 and 1964 before he went into the studio. A fascinating insight into the early development of this towering guitarist which included Bert’s first recorded version of Davey Graham’s ‘Angie’, in a medley with ‘Work Song’.
We opened the year with some “West Texas Bop” which did exactly what it said on the package, featuring men who knew Buddy Holly. There was a mix of previously unissued and old favourites, notably the bonkers ‘Cast Iron Arm’ by Peanuts Wilson, late of Roy Orbison’s Teen Kings.
Ray continued to dig deep into Modern, delivering Gene Phillips, Jimmy McCracklin, Little Willie Littlefield and Floyd Dixon compilations. None were household names but were more than welcomed by the blues fraternity. Ray also put together a collection of RPM label hits by someone better known in the front room, B.B. King.
We put out “Jake Head Boogie”, a collection of Sam “Lightning”Hopkins’ Modern recordings. Shorn of the reverb imposed on the original issued version, the title track sounded more menacing than ever.
Jimmy McCracklin (L) Lonnie Mack (R)
From our Fraternity purchase we took a second look at the Lonnie Mack catalogue, expanding that classic “Wham Of That Memphis Man”. While in those vaults, we took the opportunity to produce a fine anthology of underrated soul/blues man Albert Washington.
We could never be accused of not going into every nook and cranny of American music. “Red River Blues” drew on two great Shreveport, labels Ram and Murco and we managed to find in their catalogues, a third performer/musician called Sonny Boy Williamson.
For the benefit of those not already up to speed with all this music we issued four mid-line compilations covering rock’n’roll, instrumentals, gospel and doo wop, all echoes of earlier Cascade releases that introduced so many of the younger set to so much great music way back in the early 80s.
In a rare nostalgic mood, we put together all the Little Richard singles issued in the UK on the iconic London-American label. Earl Palmer drummed on many of these. He had a remarkable career, being the go-to drummer at Cosimo’s in New Orleans, then moving to Aladdin in Los Angeles and eventually becoming a member of the session group that came to be loosely known as the Wrecking Crew. Ace issued a soundtrack to his biography, “Backbeat”.
The compilation ideas flowed. “Land Of 1000 Dances” didn’t quite document all one thousand. Even the title track only mentions sixteen of them. So, adding the 28 specifically mentioned across the rest of the compilation, we still need to find the other 956.
As we know, the 60s started in 1964 and our “Chartbusters USA” series charted the sounds of the decade that changed it all again, running the gamut of Pop to Psychedelic with a little bit of Soul on the side. So this series dovetails nicely with Golden Age.
We also cut a deal for a bunch of compilations drawn from the Atlantic catalogue and spread the sides across Ace and Kent. Ace kicked off with the fabulous Ray Topping-compiled “Let The Boogie Woogie Rock’n’Roll”. Which it did, both boogying and woogying from Frank “Floorshow” Culley in 1949 to Pretty Boy’s frenetic ‘Bip Bop Bip’, to LaVern Baker’s magnificent 1961 shout out to Elvis on the Phil Spector- produced ‘Hey Memphis’.
Atlantic and Kent were an ideal fit and the opening gambits were two real highlights on Ace. Ted put together “Where It’s At” (lantic) - nothing too audacious, just a fantastic play - though with two versions of ‘My Girl Sloopy’. Ady’s “At The Club” was also all about the entertainment value with the well-known ‘Some Other Guy’, ‘Comin’ Home Baby’ and the title track, but the instrumental ‘Chain Of Fools’ was a nice touch.
Kent returned to vinyl 12” with a welcome compilation from Joe Evan’s Carnival label.
Dean Rudland joined us and took charge at BGP, moving it off in a funky direction. His debut was the first of many “Super Breaks”, giving away the secrets of the samplers. On there was the backing track to Otis and Carla’s ‘Tramp’, trawled in some years before. Next up was “Living In The Streets”, pretty much made up of “potting shed funk” – a term coined by Ian Clark, one-time Kent LP designer. As with Ady at Kent, Dean was pretty much given a free hand in developing the label. His broad-based knowledge and deal-making abilities meant he expanded into other areas of music through the years.
The group She had one single and two more sides in the can on the original Kent label but when Alec tracked them down he found enough to piece together a short play album. These were girls with guitars who played them and delivered some hard-hitting lyrics with a very punk attitude. In a world of mostly girlie girl groups they were refreshingly direct.
Big Beat went international with the startling “GS I Love You” – Japanese beat groups of the 60s. For lovers of the eccentric, as much was gained as lost in translation with the cover of maybe the Beatles version of ‘Long Tall Sally’ being a stand out. More foreign climes were explored over the next few yeas.
Most reverb of the year – The Church Street Five – “A Night With Daddy ‘G’”. I bet that went way past 2.45am.
A new millennium dawns, the world doesn’t collapse, Ace turns 25 and Ernie changes his name to ‘2K Doe’. Phew, we are still here. The state of the Ace nation was still steady as she goes though we did venture back into the market and bought a couple of prime properties.
John Dolphin aka Lovin’ John (The Toast of The Coast) was a popular character around the Los Angeles scene. In 1948 he opened his Dolphin’s Of Hollywood record store which doubled as the broadcast studio for radio DJs Hunter Hancock and Dick “Huggie Boy” Hugg where ‘Earth Angel’ was first aired. Sporting a great name and fabulous logo he started a label, Recorded In Hollywood, in 1951, but due to financial pressures sold out to Don Peirce in 1954. Undaunted and with great panache he immediately started the Cash and Money labels, but in 1958 he was shot dead while sitting at his desk. In 1964 his wife Ruth started up Money again, had success with Bettye Swann and made some great Northern soul records that Ady appreciated many years later.
Almost immediately we were again wandering the streets of South Central to see what we could pick up and struck gold, when Flip Records came our way. Max and Lilian Fiertag started the label in 1955, scoring with Donald Woods’ cheery ‘Death Of An Angel’ immediately and the year after with the wan ‘A Casual Look’ by the Six Teens. But unknown to them at the time they were to score their biggest success with the 1957 signing of Richard Berry. ‘Louie Louie’ is one of the most famous songs and has even had a book written about it. Not because of Richard’s version, which sank without a trace, but because of the notoriety it achieved when the Kingsmen shouted it into a mic in 1963 and had a massive and controversial hit. Richard did not make a dime from this version or any of the hundreds of subsequent covers as he had sold the rights to what he thought was a dead song in 1959 in order to get married to Dorothy. When Roger met Richard in the 1980s and asked if did not feel aggrieved, the ever philosophical Richard suggested he may not have survived the lifestyle that would have gone with all the money. But survive he did and he got the rights back when he was mature enough to handle the income. In 1993 he played in London and gave us all a lesson in Louieology. He died in 1997, but it was a real pleasure for all of us to meet such great guy and a real gent.
Having turned 20 with the party of the decade and still suffering from the hangover we decided to spread the load for the 25th. We backed a series of shows with Ace acts over the year at the Jazz Café, back in our old stomping ground of Camden. The last of the dance bands, Fatback, moved the moribund to do the ‘Bus Stop’ and the ‘Spanish Hustle’ and then it was arms in the air as everyone ‘Found Lovin’’.
A very good friend of Ace, William Bell, came over from the US and Sharleen Spiteri duetted with him on ‘Private Number’. Later in the year, he reprised the performance on Later With Jules Holland and also sang a fantastic arrangement of ‘Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday’ with Courtney Pine on soprano sax. Bert Jansch filled the place on a Tuesday as he had just been discovered by all the hip young guitar slingers. The most remarkable night was when Rosco Gordon played the deepest shufflin’ blues in a febrile atmosphere of high retro style from the young crowd fortunate enough to be there.
Licensing favours were pulled and a lot of thought went into “Silver Disc” the 25th anniversary release. It came at budget price with full Ace packaging. There were 26 tracks, one for every year from 1950-1975 and the mix of genres reflected the Ace catalogue. This was the most eclectic compilation we had done up to then. It was released 25 years and one day after we made our first record.
It’s CDs like “Jazz Me Blues” by Little Willie Jackson and Joe Lutcher’s “Jumpin’ at The Mardi Gras” that didn’t make us a fortune, but were balm for the soul; just great to be able to make them available. We went back to our days in the market stalls when Ted bought up a load of double LP s of Shirley & Lee and advertised it in the Gleaner, by upgrading the old vinyl album to CD.
Wanda Jackson really did have a date with Elvis and cut some of the best female rock’n’roll sides of the late 50s and Rob Finnis put them together with a late but great track called ‘Funnel Of Love’ that was hip. We expected to do well with it but boy did it shift units, helped by a fabulous cover shot of Wanda, guitar and attitude. In its wake demand for Wanda to rock again soared and, looking fabulous, she went out and tore up a whole new young audience.
It would be hard to find three more contrasting contemporary recordings than the ones we issued this year. “Barbed Wire” was the second Link Wray album from the 1996 sessions, “Deja Nu” hadn’t been out before by Dion and Dana Gillespie stepped up again to prove she was indeed “Experienced”, as if we would doubt that.
Further releases appeared from our Atlantic deal with a long overdue King Curtis overview and, in contrast to his first outing, Ray was “Messing With The Blues” this time.
On Kent there was the superb “Sanctified Soul” and “Yet Mo’ Mod Jazz” as the Atlantic catalogue was ideal for such a conceit. In among the label stories and high concept stuff, Kent always stayed true to Northern Soul, though could never be fully described as a Northern label. The title track of “Gettin’ To Me” was drawn from an unissued Ben E King recording that would have remained so had Ady not turned up an acetate. With modern technology we were able to make it sound pretty good. The other overtly Northern release this year was drawn from the vast King vaults.
Dean pushed his feet a little further under the desk with “Super Funk” and “Stax Of Funk” and a further venture into the sampling world. A mystery to us older folks.
The sad note to this year was the last new recordings from GlobeStyle.
“Kalaimamani” Kadri Gopalnath was from South India and played Karnatic classical music on saxophone, not an instrument widely associated with Indian music. Though we didn’t record it he played with the great British free form player Evan Parker one night in a heroic feat.
When we recorded the Uyghur Musicians From Xinjiang in London few had heard of them. Now Uyghurs are known for their struggle for independence. In some ways this was a fitting last record for the label as the world music business had outgrown us and in many ways we were happier documenting the lesser-known rather than pursuing popularity.
Understated but great track of the year – ‘Pasadena Rhumboogie’ by Nellie’s brother Joe Lutcher. Either version will do.
The 45 tiptoed back in through the back door to see if it was welcome. Billy Garner’s ‘Brand New Girl’ on BGP was a storming slice of soul funk, but was for the moment the lone 45. BGP thrived as Dean explored the various Ace catalogues available for sources of all things funky. Johnny Otis’s career went back to the 40s but with son Shuggie he was still up with the funk into the 70s and knew “Watts Funky” for sure. A contemporary of Johnny’s, Preston Love also kept up with the times as he grew older — as is so often the way in the American black music scene. It always seems to be left to European aficionados to keep the past alive. Love’s “Omaha Bar-B-Q” on the original Kent label was much sought after and got its second airing on BGP.
It was a year of rockabilly, too, with half a dozen releases of wild men with twitching right legs. The vaults of King and Columbia were mined, as were the more arcane ones of Bandera and Ram - the latter for some “Shreveport Highsteppers”. Ted trawled all available catalogues for one killer-diller CD “Them Rockabilly Cats”, which included the far-from-demure Sparkle Moore making an impact among the boys.
Still boogieing but in a way different manner was John Lee Hooker, doing it “House Rent”-style on a collection, put together by Ray, of previously unavailable Bernard Besman recordings. Joe Hill Louis was one of Sam Phillips’ earliest discoveries. His first sides came out on Modern but after the great dispute between Sam and the Biharis over the Chess deal, Joe Bihari went down south and cut the one-man boogie band in various locations. By now, Joe Hill was amplified for added boogie power. These Joe Bihari field recordings of Joe Hill and a range of other artists were collected onto “Travelling Record Man”. So, yes, Ace boogied this year.
Another stalwart of Modern and many other labels, Ike Turner really was a fantastic guitarist, as was evidenced on “Ike’s Instrumentals”, drawn largely from the Sue catalogue.
It was with great pleasure that we took on board Dion’s 70s Warner albums which, in keeping with the acoustic milieu of the times, were of more mature material. His pop sensibility had not deserted him, as shown in Phil Spector’s epic production on “Born To Be With You”, a record that grew in stature over the years, embraced by a new generation. His eclecticism extended further with the Dion & Little Kings’ “Live in New York” album, documenting a raucous night of guitar-driven rock and R&B and ‘Drip Drop’ from the inimitable “King Of The New York Streets”.
Kent’s growth into the CD world turned serious with a trio of releases: “Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities”, “King’s Serious Soul: Too Much Pain” and “For Connoisseurs Only”. We dug deep into the many catalogues at our disposal to produce well-thought-through compilations, not for the faint-hearted, but undeniably for the soul-minded. Meanwhile, maybe as an antidote, its R&B cousin made an appearance with the first of many “New Breed R&B” CDs. In the Northern soul tradition, the New Breed scene found more obscure tunes - or very different versions of familiar ones - to step out to, as a younger crowd started to own its own small corner of the dancefloor.
At the start of the year, we bought Goldwax Records, with the help of its long-term producer, Quinton Claunch. Alongside Stax, Fame and Hi, Goldwax was the other great southern soul label from Memphis. A combination of black and white working together produced remarkable music. There were many twists and turns along the way but with the release of the complete 45s cut for the label by James Carr it was well worth it. Though the latter-day productions by Quinton we released were great, these early 45s with James at the height of his vocal powers were a lesson in southern soul angst. We quickly followed up with Volume 1 of “The Goldwax Story”.
The four-CD “Stax Story” in a cube box brought together the hits, the bluesier sides, the second (finger clickin’) period and live performances — a thorough overview of the history of one of the great labels in American music. Otherwise things were quieter on the Stax front with sets from Johnnie Taylor, Rance Allen and ‘The Man’, Isaac Hayes. The first 28 original albums in digipaks with 24-bit remastering did, though, begin to flow through the new European central manufacturing set-up.
The schedules were filled with multi-set Vanguard releases, imports of the Cramps albums on the band’s Vengeance label and a further 125-plus Jazz CDs from the Fantasy-owned labels. The warehouse was filling up.
Most unlikely pairing on a CD of the year – Bob Dylan on Vanguard’s “The Ballad Of Ramblin’ Jack” with an introduction by President Bill Clinton. An honourable mention goes to “Concerts For A Landmine Free World” led off by Emmylou Harris, also on Vanguard.
As the new millennium crept forward, we welcomed Tony Rounce to the Ace fold. He had been round many blocks and done most jobs in the business shy of running a major corporation. Most recently, he had been with Westside Records. Even though our consultants have broad musical taste and knowledge, most are ‘known’ for one particular area of music. Tony, however, is a true generalist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of all forms of music that could be filed under popular.
This was the year of B.B. King and the John Broven-compiled four-CD box, a fitting tribute to the bluesman’s career at Modern - heavily annotated and thoroughly illustrated, with a full discography. Carol Fawcett who, among many other things manages the design end of things, produced a look that tied together the various elements of the box. Besides notes there were sections on discography and tape research. The fantastic recordings sounded better than ever, courtesy of Duncan Cowell’s sympathetic mastering. The early acetate recordings particularly benefitted from his careful hand. Digital de-noising systems meant the snaps, crackles and pops could be removed while retaining the music - which, in turn, was mastered to locate it in the room in which it had been cut. These recordings were made using at most a couple of mics, with B.B. and band playing ensemble in the studio. It seemed a shame not to apply this reclamation technique to the all the other early B.B. recordings. So we put together a double CD of all extant usable 1950-51 sides, including alternate takes, some of which had never been issued. Great work from everyone involved. B.B. was on board with it, too, penning a charming note for us. When he played the Albert Hall that year, the Ace crew had the privilege of meeting him backstage to present him with a copy of the box.
We upped the output of King catalogue releases, with Tony putting together two country releases. The first definitely did what it said on the tin: “Hillbilly Bop ‘n’ Boogie (King/Federal’s Roots Of Rockabilly 1944-56)”. The title of the second was likewise descriptive: “That Real Hot Boogie Boy” by harmonica ace Wayne Raney. John Broven assembled a second Wynonie Harris collection and the first of our series which worked its way through the singles of Little Willie John - an immense talent with a short and tragic life.
On a lighter note, “Land Of 1000 Dances” Vol 2 came out - which left us looking for just another 932 dances.
To honour our purchase of Flip Records, we issued the original version of ‘Louie Louie’ as a 45 with that other much-covered Richard Berry song ‘Have Love Will Travel’ on the flip. We cut it directly from the original masters so it would sound so sweet. Rhino Records had previously issued a 10-track LP of ‘Louie’ covers and radio KFJC had broadcast 63 hours of non-stop ‘Louie Louie’. We did our own honouring of Louie, longer than the Rhino LP, shorter than the radio broadcast and more nuanced than either. “Love That Louie: The Louie Louie Files” traced the song’s history in 21 diverse versions, including the Kingsmen’s and Richard Berry’s original.
“If Loving You Is Wrong: 20 Cheatin’ Heartbreakers” was a welcome addition to the Kent canon, diversifying the label further. Guest compiled by Peter Silverton, it covered the full range of sneakin’ around, hiding in shadows, telling it like it is, suspicious minds and self pity, every track a soap opera, in less time than a quickie.
A compilation of the Arock group of labels was well worth the wait. Peter Gibbon - who negotiated the purchase - had needed more information on some of the more arcane artists. We got an amazing response from the soul fraternity when we put out the call. We got a copy of a previously undocumented 45 - discographically that is. Plus, the odd facts that Sterling Magee had worked as a one-man band on the streets of Harlem and appeared in a U2 video.
We were quicker off the mark with Goldwax, swiftly releasing the first of the two original James Carr albums on vinyl and expanded CD.
Sam & Dave are familiar names to soul fans. Mel & Tim, too. The other dynamic male duo, Eddie & Ernie, were little known until Dave Godin brought them to the soul world’s attention. A remarkable series of tape finds over a period of years finally enabled us to issue an Eddie & Ernie CD, bringing to Ernie Johnson a little income and a lot of joy that in Britain he was appreciated for his music.
‘Third Rate Romance’ by the Amazing Rhythm Aces had been a favourite for most of us since it first appeared on their “Stacked Deck” album in 1975. It was written by Russell Smith who re-recorded it for his optimistically titled “The End Is Not In Sight” on Fame Records of Muscle Shoals. We had been corresponding with Fame owner Rick Hall and his son Rodney for some time so took the opportunity to put the Smith record out on Ace. Fame alumnae Spooner Oldham and Swamper David Hood played on it and we also picked up the album by the latter’s band, the Decoys. We were glad to put out two very good records and maybe edge forward our relationship with the studio and label.
Maverick producer, songwriter and growling vocalist Lee Hazlewood had roamed free across popular music in his own distinctive way. Some knew him for Sanford Clark’s ‘The Fool’, some for Duane Eddy’s reverb. Others for Gram Parsons’ early combo the International Submarine Band or Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made For Walking’. This year, we presented his complete MGM recordings.
Another maverick producer was Gary Paxton. The man behind ‘Alley-Oop’ and ‘Monster Mash’, he went on to become the doyen of the Bakersfield sound of west coast country rock. Gib Guilbeau and Gene Parsons were regular pickers in Gary’s house band. We assembled a terrific collection of their own recordings, which included the original of ‘Your Gentle Ways Of Loving Me’, the song Gene took with him when he joined the Byrds, along with that other Bakersfield picker Clarence White.
Dean Carter’s reading of the Elvis hit ‘Jailhouse Rock’ is, to put it mildly, distinctive. Mashed up is more like it, a record put through the ringer and turned up to 11½. It appeared on the appropriately titled “Call Of The Wild”.
Now here’s a story: Alec wanted to do the complete Zombies Decca catalogue in stereo, but there was a problem with their debut 45 and biggest hit, ‘She’s Not There’. The signature hi-hat and snare had been overdubbed while the 4-track tape was being mixed to mono in 1964. So they were not on the 4-track tape - though this didn’t stop various ‘stereo’ versions being released over the years. Which is a bit like putting out ‘Satisfaction’ without the guitar riff. Our solution was to put Zombies drummer Hugh Grundy into Rod Argent’s studio with the original hi-hat and snare and get him to do it again, nearly four decades later, only this time to digital multi-track. To our mind it’s not cheating, just time shifting.
Next stop for the jet-setting Big Beat International division was Australia where we found plenty of surf and punk and records with acid-drenched reverb. Perfect to entertain baby boomers all around the world.
The Bambi Molesters were from Croatia, though you wouldn’t have guessed that from the sound of their ‘Pulp Fiction’ 60s guitar stylings. A rare venture with a new recording for Ace but one we couldn’t resist, so good was it.
As was a record by a band born out of the Prisoners, the Solarflares, the coruscating “Look What I Made Out Of My Head”. We also started on the Countdown catalogue with the Prisoners’ “In From The Cold”. That other latterday Mod squad Makin’ Time were to follow as was “Ready Steady Go: The Countdown Story”, a multi-artist set with a front cover shot of the legs of Ace employee Vicki Fox.
The year closed on the news of the very sudden death of Joe Strummer, the mercurial front man of the 101ers at the tender age of 50. He certainly contributed a vast amount of energy to the world during his time, not least as the driving force of the Clash. The extinguishing of such a bright flame was hard to fathom.
Extremely good and extremely rare on 45 of the year – ‘Burnt Toast & Black Coffee’ by Mike Pedicin, the only record you really need by him, but you really need it. It has that ‘snatt!’ about it.