Here are some more vital recent releases from the long running Ace Records, arguably one of the best reissue labels in the world. Evidence to back up this statement can be found in some of Ian Johnson’s previous reviews of Ace Records roundups for us such as this one, this one, this one or, indeed, this one. And those four just scratch the surface of the Ace Records Roundups Ian’s done for us – use the search box to find more.

All the following releases are out now in various formats depending on the release. Visit Ace Records here for more info & to purchase any of the below.


1. Creedence Clearwater Revival – The Singles Collection

An incredible limited collectors edition 45 RPM vinyl box set by one of the greatest American bands of the rock ”˜n’ roll era. This beautiful box includes 15 classic Creedence Clearwater Revival singles, a deluxe colour 40-page booklet, featuring rare sleeves and memorabilia.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s unique bayou swamp rock sound has endured since they first emerged from the San Francisco music scene during 1967. Although their music evoked the raw, gospel-tinged sound of the rural South, Doug Clifford, Stu Cook, and Tom and John Fogerty in fact came from El Cerrito, California, a small provincial town near Berkeley. The group had very little in common with the pop-psych “San Francisco Sound” bands of the era, but rather dug into the very roots of rock ”˜n’ roll itself.
Some of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s most famous cover versions were featured on their single releases and are featured here: Dale Hawkins’s ”˜Susie Q (Pt. 1 and Pt. 2)’, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ ”˜I Put a Spell on You’, Little Richard’s ”˜Good Golly, Miss Molly’ and Marvin Gaye’s ”˜I Heard It Through The Grapevine’.

The man accountable for Creedence Clearwater Revival’s preeminent position was John Fogerty. In addition to writing the band’s material and producing their records, John Fogerty sang with a commanding, rough-edged voice that defined the Creedence sound. Classic cuts such as ”˜Bad Moon Rising’, swamp rock anthem ”˜Born On The Bayou’ and ”˜Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’ are included with Fogerty numbers that inspired other notable artists to cover them: ”˜Proud Mary’ (Ike and Tina Turner, Elvis), ”˜Run Through The Jungle’ (Lydia Lunch’s 8 Eyed Spy, The Gun Club on their 1982 masterpiece, Miami) and ”˜Walk On The Water’ (Richard Hell and The Voidoids on the 1977 landmark Blank Generation LP).

Sounding as bright and compelling now as they must have sounded when they were originally released, these Creedence Clearwater Revival singles are timeless rock ”˜n’ roll artefacts. Vinyl.

2. Herb Hardesty – The Domino Effect – The Wing & Federal Recordings 1958-1961

Complied and noted by George Korval, this is a marvellous compilation CD of the solo recordings of the legendary New Orleans tenor saxophonist Herb Hardesty.

As a member of the great Fats Domino’s band Herb Hardesty blew tenor saxophone solos on just about every track Fats Domino cut on Imperial from his first session in 1949 to his last in 1962. Hardesty’s distinctive sax signature also appeared on an enormous amount of other New Orleans productions throughout the 1950s and early 60s. He also toured with Fats Domino’s road band for four decades and has played with everyone from Dr John to Allen Toussaint, Sinatra, Duke Ellington Count Basie and Tom Waits, on the monumental Waits’ 1979 album Blue Valentine and his subsequent acclaimed tours of America and Australia.

The Domino Effect is a well-deserved salute to this mighty colossus of New Orleans music, consisting mostly of great rockin’ instrumentals (the aptly named ”˜Sassy’, the driving ”˜Rumba Rockin’ With Coleman’, the slinky ”˜Feelin’ Good’ and ”˜Coach Train’) and fine later-period New Orleans R&B (”˜It Must Be Wonderful’ and ”˜Why Did We Have To Part’, featuring vocals by guitarist Walter “Papoose” Nelson, who died aged just 29), and the upbeat ”˜Just A Little Bit of Everything’, including most of Fats Domino’s band. Overall, The Domino Effect is like a great-lost Fats Domino album, without his vocals.
The Domino Effect is the real deal, the very quintessence of ageless New Orleans swinging groove music. Featuring a fantastic shot of Herb Hardesty playing the sax on his back on stage in 1955 on the cover, and tributes from Dr John, Waits’ bassist Greg Cohen, Dave Bartholomew and Fats himself within the liner notes, The Domino Effect is a obligatory acquisition.

3. The Routers – A-Ooga!!! Stamp & Shake With The Routers

Probably most UK football fans would be surprised to learn that one of the most instantly recognisable hand-clapping chants heard in England’s soccer grounds during the 1960s and 1970s was created fifty years ago by two brothers born in rural Illinois, Lanny and Robert Duncan.

The brothers wrote for instrumental band The Routers the insanely catchy 1962 international smash hit ”˜Let’s Go (Pony)’. Featuring a beguilingly contagious tune delivered by the twangy guitar of Tommy Tedesco, the hoarse sax of Plas Johnson and the big beat of drummer Earl Palmer. Coated on top of everything is the most infuriatingly transmittable sequence of handclaps that virtually beg to have you clap along.

Joe Saraceno and his right-hand man, writer and musician Michael Z Gordon, had already scored a couple of instrumental hits with their independent productions released on Liberty under the name of the Marketts (see previous Marketts review of the Ace CD Outer Space, Hot Rods & Superheroes). The Routers was their second vehicle for chart success.

A-Ooga!!! Stamp & Shake With The Routers (compiled and noted by David Burke and Alan Taylor of the estimable Pipeline Magazine) collects together the band’s best early 60’s recordings, including the hits ”˜Let’s Go’ and ”˜Sting Ray’ (a 1963 hit that became transformed on the terraces of the football stadia of the UK into “You’re going home in a fucking ambulance!”) all of the rare non-LP 45s and highlights from their four albums. Highlights from the wacky, clap-happy instrumental Routers songbook include ”˜Charge’, ”˜Grandstand Stomp’, (you might see a theme emerging), ”˜Half Time’ and great covers of Duane Eddy’s ”˜Guitar Man’, Chuck Berry’s ”˜Too Much Monkey Business’, ”˜Wild Weekend’ and The Chantays ”˜Pipeline’. Arguably best of all, are four previously unreleased Routers tracks, including ”˜Silverfinger’ (a neat John Barry ”˜Goldfinger’ homage) and a vocal cover of the old standard ”˜The Green Door’, which actually rivals The Cramps’ version on their 1981 masterwork Psychedelic Jungle.

The Routers deserve a big hand”¦ across their faces.

4. Various Artists – Have Mercy! The Songs Of Don Covay (Songwriter Series)

This latest in Ace’s acclaimed songwriter series focuses upon the behind-the-scenes work of soul singer Don Covay, supplier of superb compositions to some of the biggest stars of the 1960s.

Don Covay made his recording debut in 1956 as a member of the Rainbows vocal group. His idol at this time was Little Richard he managed to meet in 1957. Richard took him on as his opening act, bestowing upon him the nickname Pretty Boy, as which Don released his first solo disc. When record sales proved meagre, he channelled his energy into writing songs with John Berry of the Rainbows. Straight away their compositions were picked by rock ”˜n’ roll legend Gene Vincent and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, whose fine rockin’ renditions of ”˜A Big Saturday Night’ and ”˜There’s A Party Goin’ On’ are included on Have Mercy!

”˜Pony Time’, Don Covay and the Goodtimers’, entered the Hot 100 for the first time in 1961. The same week, a cover by Chubby Checker debuted on the charts bound for the #1 position, leaving Don Covay stalled. Correctly convinced that financial security would come from writing rather than recording, he signed with song publishers Roosevelt Music in New York’s famous Brill Building. Convay’s brilliant song writing career had begun.
Gladys Knight & the Pips took Don Covay’s ”˜Letter Full Of Tears’ (British rocker Billy Fury’s cover is featured on this CD) into the Top 20 in 1962. His profile rose, Covay was acquired by Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler on the hunt for material for Solomon Burke (”˜You’re Good For Me’, included here).

In 1964 Goodtimers’ guitarist Ronnie Miller came up with a catchy lick that evolved into ”˜Mercy Mercy’, which saw Don Covay make the Top 40. The number would be featured on the Rolling Stones’ 1965 album, Out Of Our Heads; unable to licence the Stones track, compilers Malcolm Baumgart and Mick Patrick have opted for the uninhibited version by 60’s garage punks The Wailers.

An indispensable compilation that reflects Covay’s staggering talent (other tracks include Wilson Pickett’s strident version of ”˜Three Time Loser’, Aretha Franklin’s magnificent ”˜Chain Of Fools’ and Little Richard’s soulful rendition of the masterpiece ”˜I Don’t Know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me’), Have Mercy! makes for compelling listening.

5. Various Artists – Behind Closed Doors – Where Country Meets Soul

Compiled and noted by Tony Rounce, this excellent compilation amply illustrates that the line that separates the genres of country and soul music has always been an extremely fine one and that over many decades there has always been constant exchange of strong repertoire and influences between the genres. Blues always informed hillbilly music, while country music, in the segregated South of the 1930’s and 1940’s, dominated the radio that many black performers grew up listening too.

Beginning with for Aaron Neville’s masterful 1993 reading of George Jones’ 1974 dark hit ”˜The Grand Tour’, featuring the great, late Solomon Burke’s 1964 rendition of the country standard ”˜He’ll Have To Go’, Al Green’s funky 1973 reinvention of Hank Williams’ great immortal ballad ”˜I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’, Moses & Joshua Dillard’s up tempo version of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood’s ”˜My Elusive Dreams’ and Brook Benton’s 1971 soulsville take on the Mickey Newbury/Jerry Lee Lewis number ”˜She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye’, Behind Closed Doors – Where Country Meets Soul possesses style, sophistication and unlimited soul.

Behind Closed Doors – Where Country Meets Soul might not be the first such compilation to illustrate the incontrovertibly strong links between country music and soul but it is definitely the best one to date. If you want proof just listen to while Percy Sledge’s 1968 rendition of Steve Davis’ mournful ”˜Take Time To Know Her’ which is filled with the experience of someone who obviously sounds like he lived every minute of Davis’ desolate tale, or Little Milton’s sassy blues/soul remake/remodel of Charlie Rich’s 1973 smash hit ”˜Behind Closed Doors’, providing this collection with another couple of unquestionable highlights.  Y’all come back now, ya hear?

All words by Ian Johnson. More Louder Than War articles by Ian can be found here.


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