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Ace Label Tunes In “Radio Gold” and Heads to the “Hall of Fame”

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Radio Gold - Bigger in BritainAce Records has another pair of aces (Aces?) up its sleeve with two recent releases, both of which continue ongoing series for the label.  The sixth installment of the long-running Radio Gold series turns the spotlight on those American records which were Bigger in Britain, as it’s subtitled, while the second volume of Hall of Fame takes in 24 rarities (20 previously unreleased) from deep in the heart of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The 24 tracks chosen for Radio Gold: Special Bigger in Britain Edition all hail from the pre-Beatles era (1956-1963) of rock and roll and feature some of that period’s biggest names: Buddy Holly, Del Shannon, Bobby Darin, Bill Haley and His Comets, Roy Orbison, and Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers.  It might come as a surprise that Roy Orbison’s beautiful “Blue Bayou” bested its No. 29 placement with a No. 3 showing in Britain, or that Haley’s rather unknown “Rockin’ Through the Rye” (No. 78) also hit that same lofty perch.  Del Shannon’s “Two Kinds of Teardrops” was an intentional sound-alike to his “Little Town Flirt,” but whereas it stalled at No. 50 in the U.S., Shannon’s constant U.K. touring saw it rise to No. 5 there.  (As for “Flirt,” the No. 12 U.S. hit was No. 4 in the U.K.!)

Compiler Tony Rounce hasn’t limited himself to rock-and-roll chestnuts, though.  You’ll find country artists represented, including Conway Twitty (“Mona Lisa”) and Jim Reeves (“Welcome to My World,” later popularized by Elvis Presley) and crooner Perry Como (the rock-ish “Love Makes the World Go Round (Yeah Yeah)”).  Even more surprising than Perry is an appearance by the Velvet Fog, Mel Torme.  His breezy 1956 live recording of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s 1926 standard “Mountain Greenery” didn’t make waves in the U.S., but accomplished an impressive No. 4 showing on the British chart. Rounce helpfully points out in his detailed track-by-track notes that Mel’s recording was the very first live recording to make a major dent on the U.K. survey.

On the R&B front, there’s a track from Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (“I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent”).  Straight from the Brill Building, Bobby Vee offers Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “How Many Tears” (No. 63 U.S., No. 10 U.K., 1961).  Two famous television western themes are also included.  “The Ballad of Paladin” from Have Gun, Will Travel only made it to No. 33 at home, but across the pond, “Paladin” hit No. 10.  The occasionally overwrought pop star Frankie Laine specialized in musical tales of the Old West, and he brought his big pipes to Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington’s “Rawhide” from the program of the same name.  Its September 1958 release in America didn’t chart, but when “Rawhide” was issued in Britain in November 1959, it began an ascent to No. 6.

This entry in the Radio Gold series is accompanied by a thick 22-page booklet with plenty of label scans, photographs and sheet music covers.  Duncan Cowell has remastered all tracks.

Hit the jump for the full track listing and discography for Radio Gold, plus the details on Hall of Fame Volume 2!

Hall of Fame Volume 2Ace continues to mine the rich southern soul legacy of Rick Hall’s Fame Studios for the second volume of Hall of Fame.  Artists including Aretha Franklin, Bobbie Gentry, Etta James, Wilson Pickett and Little Richard all made memorable music at the Muscle Shoals studio, but Hall of Fame focuses on the tracks you haven’t already heard.  Every track on Hall of Fame Volume 2: More Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults is new to CD, and 20 of its 24 songs are previously unreleased altogether.

Like the first Hall of Fame, this entry also boasts six songs co-written by the great Dan Penn (“Dark End of the Street,” “Cry Like a Baby”).  Penn recently was the subject of two indispensable Ace anthologies, his own The Fame Recordings and a songbook collection of his tunes co-written with Spooner Oldham.  His “Long Ago,” written with Bob Killen and heard here in a version by duo Ben and Spence, sounds so familiar that it’s impossible to believe it’s remained unreleased for all of these years.  (Versions did surface from Bobby Patterson and Ted Taylor.)  Its tinkling piano, insinuating horns and lean, mean guitar add up to a memorably quintessential Fame nugget.  And “I Can’t Stop (No No No),” written by Penn and Roger Hawkins, betrays its Motown influence.  So does singer Linda Carr’s “Are You Teasing Me,” a Louvin Brothers song given a Detroit-style makeover at Muscle Shoals.  Carr’s voice bore such a resemblance to Diana Ross’ that, according to Tony Rounce’s notes, Berry Gordy may have approached Rick Hall to purchase her contract!  If you ever wondered what Diana Ross would have sounded like had she decamped for Muscle Shoals in 1967, here’s your chance.

Ace connoisseurs already know the name of George Jackson; here, his “Take Me Back” (with the repeated phrase “Baby, I need your loving”) is a soulful stew of Southern passion and sweet soul harmonies.   Jackson is also heard on the sly “I Smell a Rat,” and pops up as writer of Marjorie Ingram’s sassy and suspicious “I’m Gonna Start Checking Up on My Man” (“If I turn my back for one minute, some other woman may be having him!”).  Don Covay penned Otis Clay’s smokin’ “That Kind of Lovin’,” released on Cotillion in 1968.  Another top-flight soul man, Joe Simon, only spent one session at Fame, but the smooth “Get in a Hurry,” originally slated for release on Vee-Jay, shows that the recording date wasn’t for naught.

Most tracks on Hall of Fame sound completed, but a few offer illumination into the recording process.  Prince Phillip’s “Fool for a Woman” features just piano and his falsetto; two songs from Clarence Carter are works-in-progress.  The funky Carter/O.B. McClinton song “You Can’t Miss What You Can’t Measure,” a 1969 hit for Carter, is heard here in McClinton’s own recording.  Unfortunately, as is common in such vault outings, a few artists couldn’t be identified.  A handful of tracks come from unknown singers; one, “My Dreams Don’t Ever Come True,” was clearly inspired by Ruby and the Romantics’ hit arrangement of Mort Garson and Bob Hilliard’s “Our Day Will Come.”  The ten-page booklet includes ample photos and other memorabilia along with Tony Rounce’s track-by-track annotations.  Duncan Cowell has mastered the collection.

Both Radio Gold and Hall of Fame are available now, and can be ordered at the links below!

Various Artists, Radio Gold: Special Bigger in Britain Edition (Ace CDCHD 1362, 2013) (Amazon U.K. link)

  1. Blue Bayou – Roy Orbison (London HLU 9777, 1963)
  2. Reminiscing – Buddy Holly (Coral Q 72455, 1962)
  3. Giddy-Up-A Ding Dong – Freddie Bell and the Bell Boys (Mercury 78 MT 122, 1956)
  4. Swinging on a Star – Big Dee Irwin (Colpix PX 11010, 1963)
  5. Multiplication – Bobby Darin (London HLK 9474, 1961)
  6. My Little Girl – The Crickets (Liberty LIB 10067, 1963)
  7. Welcome to My World – Jim Reeves (RCA 1412, 1963)
  8. My Way – Eddie Cochran (Liberty LIB 10088, 1963)
  9. Here Comes That Feelin’ – Brenda Lee (Brunswick 05871, 1962)
  10. Rockin’ Through the Rye – Bill Haley and His Comets (Brunswick 05582, 1956)
  11. Mountain Greenery – Mel Torme (Vogue-Coral Q 72150, 1956)
  12. Two Kinds of Teardrops – Del Shannon (London HLX 9710, 1963
  13. Pistol Packin’ Mama – Gene Vincent and the Beat Boys (Capitol CL 15136, 1960)
  14. I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent – Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (Columbia DB 3878, 1956)
  15. Johnny Will – Pat Boone (London HLD 9461, 1961)
  16. The Folk Singer – Tommy Roe (HMV POP 1138, 1963)
  17. I Dig You Baby – Marvin Rainwater (MGM 980, 1958)
  18. The Ballad of Paladin – Duane Eddy (RCA 1300, 1962)
  19. English Country Garden – Jimmie Rodgers (Columbia DB 4847, 1961)
  20. Mona Lisa – Conway Twitty (MGM 1029, 1959)
  21. How Many Tears – Bobby Vee (London HLG 938, 1961)
  22. Love Makes the World Go ‘Round (Yeah, Yeah) – Perry Como (RCA 1086, 1958)
  23. Rawhide – Frankie Laine (Philips PB 965, 1958)

All tracks mono except Tracks 1, 7, 13, 17 & 19-23

Various Artists, Hall of Fame Volume 2: More Rare and Unreleased Gems from the Fame Vaults (Kent CDKEND 386, 2013) (Amazon U.K. link)

  1. Another Good Woman Gone Bad – Unknown Female
  2. It Tears Me Up – James Barnett
  3. Long Ago – Ben and Spence
  4. Don’t Let It Be Said – June Conquest
  5. Take Me Back – George Jackson
  6. Don’t Count Me Out – Unknown Male
  7. I Can’t Stop (No No No) – Big Ben Atkins
  8. Have Pity on Me – Billy Young (Chess 1961, 1966)
  9. I Smell a Rat – George Jackson
  10. Don’t Tear Yourself Down – Ralph “Soul” Jackson (Amy 11002, 1967)
  11. Are You Teasing Me – Linda Carr
  12. No One Left to Come Home To – Ben and Spence
  13. Fool for a Woman – Prince Phillip
  14. Got to Get Over – Unknown Male
  15. Take It All Off – Clarence Carter
  16. I’m Gonna Start Checking Up on My Man – Marjorie Ingram
  17. How Much More Can A Poor Man Stand – Prince Phillip
  18. My Dreams Don’t Ever Come True – Unknown Female
  19. Midnight Affair – George Soule (Kent 6Ts Anniversary 6T 27, 2011)
  20. That Kind of Lovin’ – Otis Clay (Cotillion 44009, 1968)
  21. They’re Gonna Find Us (At the Dark End of the Street) – Clarence Carter
  22. You Can’t Miss What You Can’t Measure – O.B. McClinton
  23. Get in a Hurry – Joe Simon
  24. Unfortunately – Jackie

All recordings previously unreleased unless noted above.  All tracks in mono.

Written by Joe Marchese

March 27, 2013 at 10:08

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