The dictionary definition of cult invariably refers to religion, worship, idolising; though deification of any of these artists is something of an exaggeration, they all certainly inspire devotion in their fans that at times is beyond the purely rational. The attention to detail in Ace CDs encourages this and as what was known as the “oldies” business has matured, a whole new generation of people have been introduced to artists in such a way as to see (and hear) them in a different light. This is not about nostalgia, the fleeting pleasure of that old hit you danced to down the disco all those years ago. This is about (re)introducing great artists with something magic about them, changing the perspective to hear performances as new, as fresh as the moment they were first recorded. It is hard to define a cult artist. Often less than successful in their time but not necessarily dragged from the shadows of obscurity, they can even have had a spectacular career or two over the years involving chart records. But what defines the cult artist is inventiveness, intensity and an enduring quality that transcends the zeitgeist to be an influence on successive generations of musicians and a joy for successive generations of irrational fans.
From streetwise finger-clickin’ 50s doo woppin’ rock’n’roll star to the voice that fronted the sound of Phil Spector at his most grandiose, Dion DiMucci always had smarts and the voice to go with them. He could float vocally like a butterfly and sting emotionally like a bee, and still can.
It would seem that Brian Wilson was more comfortable conducting the band rather than playing in it, and this CD brings together 23 single sides he produced outside the Beach Boys between 1963 and 1972 – from the faintly absurd to the absolutely sublime, but always impeccable.
Maybe if Lee Hazlewood had concentrated on doing one thing he would have been more famous, but then he wouldn’t have been Lee Hazlewood, DJ, songwriter, producer, label-owner and on these exceptional late 60s sides performer as well.
Essentially Jack Nitzsche was the guy with his name at the bottom of the label under Arranged by… but that humble credit belies the brilliance of a man who was so much more. In a 40-year career he was also producer, composer and musician and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music that informed an immense talent.
Once upon a time, say around 1959, a group of friends collected pre-war jazz, blues and hillbilly 78s, venturing into the southern states to“canvass” for them. The young John Fahey was one such collector and the shellac got into his blood and turned him into a remarkably prolific, inventive guitarist with the most original take on some very arcane music.
In early 90s London a mix of mainly 70s jazz and soul coagulated around the Acid Jazz banner with countless performers coaxed out of obscurity, retirement or Midwest American lounge bars to delight the new young hip scenesters. The results were often mixed, but Terry Callier transcended all possible expectations, leaving an indelible impression on all who heard him.
Link Wray, the man who put the kerrrannnnnggg into the electric guitar, was introduced to many a young rocker in the mid-70s through these mid-60s instrumentals, enticing them into a life of debauchery. Down, dirty and downright nasty rock’n’roll. Not for the fainthearted.
Little Willie John
James Brown was a fan, cutting an album called Thinking About Little Willie John...And A Few Nice Things while he was on King Records, the label Little Willie John had just left when he made these recordings. Willie died soon after and they remained in the vaults until Ace issued them over 40 years after they were made.
One of the all-time cult favourites, the Zombies’ masterpiece is presented on this mid-price package in both mono and stereo versions with unissued bonus tracks. Also available as 12-track Hip Pocket (CDHP 025) and vinyl (WIKD 181) editions.