Various Artists (Ace Mississippi)

A little over 30 years ago, the R&B and rock’n’roll loving directorate of Chiswick Records decided that it might be fun to start a sister label, which did for the recordings of what was then a mere 20 years previously what Chiswick was doing for the more current stuff. Chiswick itself had sprung from small beginnings involving two men with a market stall full of golden oldies both common and rare, so this was not something that surprised too many people who witnessed the birth of this new reissue label – which shared the name of one of the most famous imprints in rock’n’roll/R&B history and which, in 2010, still goes by the name of Ace Records.

The American Ace label, run out of Jackson Mississippi by shrewd record man Johnny Vincent, was a veritable sweet shop of great 50s and early 60s music. Ted Carroll and Roger Armstrong had been selling vast quantities of original Ace 45s on the Rock On stall, and when Ted broached the prospect of licensing some Ace masters for UK issue/reissue with Johnny Vincent, he not only said yes but gave Ted his blessing to use the Ace name as an outlet for these, and other, reissues. Thus it was that UK Ace was able to successfully mine Vincent’s trove of musical treasures and that Ted, Roger and expert Ray Topping were able to compile – among other things – five fabulous volumes of “The Ace Story”. 

These original albums stayed in catalogue for years, until the deal ran out and Vincent decided to take his catalogue elsewhere. Of all the old vinyl UK Ace albums, they are among the most asked-for on CD by those who bought them decades ago and want to indulge themselves in a newly digitised version. 

Over the course of the next year-and-a-bit, we’ll be reissuing all five volumes of “The Ace (Ms) Story” using the original covers. Each volume will be augmented with additional classics that wouldn’t fit the finite running time of a long player, Some tracks will have been reissued many times since we first compiled them in the late 1970s and early 1980s, while others have barely been heard in public since the aspiring hopefuls in question stood before the mic in, usually, Cosimo’s Recording Studio in downtown New Orleans and did their bit to let the good times roll. Each set offers a fabulous overview of New Orleans R&B, and some of the greatest music of their time. We’re sure we don’t need to reintroduce you to Huey Smith, Frankie Ford, Earl King, Jimmy Clanton, Bobby Marchan, Frankie Lee Sims and other members of our company. And we’re sure you’ll greet them with warm appreciation, no matter how many times you might have heard some of the biggest hits that we obviously couldn’t leave out… 

…Ace is back on Ace. And this is the story, morning glory… 

By Tony Rounce

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