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From Mississippi and Alabama: New Volume of “The Ace Story” Joins “Hall of Fame” Soul Rarities

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Two classic labels from the American south have received the deluxe treatment from Ace Records, and for lovers of classic R&B and soul, releases don’t come much better than this.  The Ace Story Volume 4 is the latest installment dedicated to Ace’s namesake, the pioneering R&B label out of Jackson, Mississippi that helped launch the careers of artists including Dr. John, Huey “Piano” Smith and Frankie Ford.  Just one state over in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Rick Hall’s Fame Studios welcomed artists including Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Etta James and Aretha Franklin.  On the heels of last year’s comprehensive The Fame Studios Story 1961-1973 box comes the first volume of Hall of Fame: Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults drawing on the rich tape library of the Fame Records label.  Both titles are available now from Ace and are packed with songs that most definitely deserve another spin!

The current Ace Story series of CDs has been based on the 1980s vinyl series of the same name, with each new reissue expanding the original vinyl line-up to CD length.    The original sequence of the vinyl compilation is retained, with additional tracks added following that program’s conclusion.  In addition, each track is heard in best-ever sound, with most songs transferred from the original master tapes.  The Ace Story vinyl series lasted only five volumes, but Volume 4 on CD reveals that a sixth CD-only volume is planned; it will round up the best tracks not yet reissued to that point!

What will you find on these compilations?  Hit the jump!

Volume 4 includes 24 more slices of prime New Orleans R&B.  It features a number of tracks from Huey “Piano” Smith, which should come as no surprise to label collectors!  In his liner notes, Tony Rounce reveals that over 70% of the 69 singles on Ace between Smith’s first release in October 1956 and last in February 1960 featured him in one capacity or another!  (He even returned to the label between 1962 and 1965!)  Huey, perhaps best known for “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” is heard on two tracks with his Clowns, one with Gerri Hall billed as Huey and Jerry, and one solo.  A trio of tracks comes from Joe Tex (“I Gotcha”) early in his career before he had found his own voice.  1959’s “Charlie Brown Gets Expelled” answers The Coasters’ famous song while he smoothly croons a la Sam Cooke on “Mother’s Advice” (1958) and shouts like Little Richard on “Yum, Yum, Yum” (1959).  (A trip to Fame Studios would earn Tex his first hit with 1965’s “Hold What You’ve Got” on Atlantic Records.)   There are a number of fun curiosities on the compilation, including Earl King’s “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights,” which boasted the label “featuring Fats on piano!”  Of course, “Fats” wasn’t Mr. Domino, but Huey Smith!  The ruse may have worked, though, as the 1955 song became Ace’s first hit record.

Hall of Fame: Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults continues from not only the Fame Studios Story box set, but 2011’s Don’t Count Me Out: The Fame Recordings compilation from songwriter and artist George Jackson.  That anthology presented a number of Jackson’s previously-unissued versions of the songs he wrote for artists including Wilson Pickett, Candi Staton, Jimmy Hughes and Clarence Carter.  Of the 24 tracks on Hall of Fame, all but three are previously unreleased.  Tony Rounce again provides liner notes, and he indicates that this new series will “focus on the darker corners of the company’s tape vaults” with plenty of rare Muscle Shoals soul.

Some of these songs are so rare that their songwriters or even performers are unknown.  But what we do know is that seven songs come from the pen of legendary songwriter Spooner Oldham, six with his most famed partner Dan Penn.  Another two songs come from Penn’s collaboration with Donnie Fritts.  The Penn and Oldham songbook, including such staples as “I’m Your Puppet” and “Cry Like a Baby,” was anthologized by Ace in early 2011 as Sweet Inspiration: The Songs of Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham.   The Ace team also revisits the catalogue of Jimmy Hughes, whose 1962-1970 oeuvre has been compiled on three albums from Ace/Kent.  The previously-missing “Steal Away Pt. 1” from Hughes’ 1967 remake of his 1964 hit makes its first CD appearance as does his take on Penn and Oldham’s “I Worship the Ground You Walk On.”  Joe Simon scored hits from locales including Nashville and Philadelphia, but it was Chicago’s Vee-Jay label that sent him to Muscle Shoals; Penn and Fritts’ “When It Comes to Dancing” makes its debut from those sessions.  For those interested in the process of making a record, Hall of Fame has premiered two early, work-in-progress takes from Clarence Carter of “Tell Daddy” and “Too Weak to Fight.”  An unusual George Jackson recording also makes its debut.  The prolific songwriter and artist’s “For You” was recorded at his home studio rather than at Fame, but has been included here to give Jackson his fair representation in the series!

Both The Ace Story Volume 4 and Hall of Fame are available now, and can be ordered at the links below!

Various Artists, The Ace Story Volume 4 (Ace CDCHD 1337, 2012)

  1. Teen-Age Wedding – Johnny Angel (Vin 1004, 1958)
  2. Tee-Na-Na – Dicky Williams (Vin 1021, 1960)
  3. Walk On – Alvin “Red” Tyler (Ace 556, 1959)
  4. I Wanna Know Why – Roland Cook (Ace 525, 1957)
  5. Wherever You May Be – Joe & Ann (Ace 577, 1959)
  6. Free, Single and Disengaged – Huey Smith & His Clowns (Ace 538, 1957)
  7. Goodbye Blues – Jesse Allen (Vin 1002, 1958)
  8. Charlie Brown Got Expelled – Joe Tex & His X Class Mates (Ace 559, 1959)
  9. Scald-Dog – Huey Smith (Ace 649. 1962)
  10. Happy Sax a.k.a. Stinky – Alvin “Red” Tyler (Ace 576, 1959)
  11. Can I Have a Word – Floyd Brown (Ace 8004, 1962)
  12. Can’t Let You Go, I Love You So – Albert Scott (Vin 1005, 1958)
  13. Yum, Yum, Yum – Joe Tex (Ace 572, 1959)
  14. Mother’s Advice – Joe Tex (Ace 550, 1958)
  15. I’ll Keep On Trying – Eddie Bo (Ace 555, 1959)
  16. Walking with Frankie – Frankie Lee Sims (Ace 527, 1957)
  17. I Got the Blues for You – Al Collins & Orchestra (Ace 500, 1954)
  18. You Can’t Stop Her – Bobby Marchan & The Clowns (Ace 557, 1959)
  19. I Think You Jiving Me – Huey & Jerry (Vin 1000, 1958)
  20. Those Lonely, Lonely Nights – Earl King featuring Fats on piano (Ace 509, 1955)
  21. My Love is Here to Stay – Sammy Myers with the King Mose Royal Rockers (Ace 536, 1957)
  22. Aw!  Who? – Bat Carroll (Ace 570, 1959)
  23. Well-O Well-O Baby – Earl King featuring Huey Smith on piano (Ace 543, 1958)
  24. Don’t You Know Yockomo – Huey “Piano” Smith & His Clowns (Ace 553, 1958)

Various Artists, Hall of Fame: Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults (Kent CDKEND 372, 2012)

  1. You’re So Fine – James Barnett
  2. I Worship the Ground You Walk On – Jimmy Hughes
  3. I Do – June Conquest
  4. Blind Can’t See – Richard Earl & The Corvettes
  5. Tell It Like It Is – Big Ben Atkins
  6. Almost Persuaded – Jackie
  7. When It Comes to Dancing – Joe Simon
  8. It Ain’t No Harm – George Byrd & The Dominoes
  9. Keep on Talking – Prince Phillip (Smash 2152, 1968)
  10. I Need Someone – The Entertainers
  11. Hand Shakin’ – Ben & Spence
  12. Meet Me Tonight – James Gilreath
  13. Tell Daddy – Clarence Carter
  14. You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy – Ralph “Soul” Jackson
  15. Steal Away ’67 (Part I) – Jimmy Hughes (Kent LTDEP 009, 2011)
  16. I’m Qualified – Otis Clay (Cotillion 44101, 1971)
  17. In the Heat of Love- Marjorie Ingram
  18. Love Changes a Man – Unknown Male
  19. Too Weak to Fight – Clarence Carter
  20. Your Helping Hand – Otis Clay
  21. Two Big Legs and a Short Red Dress – O.B. McClinton
  22. Baby Come Back – Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces
  23. Let’s Do It Over – Travis Wammack
  24. For You – George Jackson

All tracks previously unreleased except where indicated.

Written by Joe Marchese

May 24, 2012 at 14:17

Posted in Compilations, News, Reissues

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