Recent Ace Records Releases by Ian Johnston – November 2017
Here, in a special, keep warm during winter, all-singing, all-dancing vinyl only Recent Ace Records Releases overview, are a few vital recent record pressings from Ace, probably one of the best reissue labels in the world.
Various Artists – Funkadelic – Reworked By Detroiters
This is a truly spectacular triple album release from Ace, featuring an eclectic number of Detroit’s current generation of top producers and musicians, reworking and offering new interpretations of seminal recordings by the groundbreaking Motor City purveyors of 70s whacked out rock, celestial soul, fractured doo wop, twisted pop, hard funk and general bad craziness – Funkadelic. Conceived by Interdimensional Transmissions head and musician Brendan M Gillen with DJ Tom “Thump” Simonian, via access to the master tapes held by Westbound Records founder/publisher Armen Boladian, leading figures from the contemporary world of Detroit Techno, House, soul and rock all pay tribute to the madcap intelligence, totally free spirit and sly humour of George Clinton and his gifted band of musicians.
Clinton and company drew encouragement from white Detroit rock bands MC5 and The Stooges, together with James Brown, Duke Ellington, Sly and The Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, all manner of doo-wop groups and the general spirit of political insurrection of the period, creating an intoxicating melding of funky rock. The Detroiter remix artists featured on this album appreciate this and that reflections of the madness of the Vietnam War/the Cold War, a rejection of America’s high consumerist culture, and that student/ghetto revolt are all evident within Funkadelic’s insistent grooves, recorded for the Detroit Westbound record company throughout the 1970s.
One of the many highlights of ‘Funkadelic – Reworked By Detroiters must be Moodymann’s superlative remix of the title track from the band’s 1973 album, Cosmic Slop. Moodymann captures the underlying sadness of the song ‘Comic Slop’, which is as lyrically bleak as anything Lou Reed recorded in the 70s, with its reflections upon a mother turning to prostitution to support the family, while tapping into the tune’s gospel roots. The remix is so empathetic to the original it’s as if Kenny ‘Moodymann’ Dixon Jr was present at its creation.
Another unforgettable remake/remodelling is Underground Resistance’s strident and hypnotic electro pulsating ‘Music 4 My Mother’, a reworking of ‘Music For My Mother’ from Funkadelic’s eponymous 1970 debut album. Alton Miller’s future funk remix of ‘You Can’t Miss What You Can’t Measure’ (also from Cosmic Slop), Gay Marvine’s equally futurist take on ‘Undisco Kidd’ (from Tales Of Kidd Funkadelic, Funkadelic’s eighth and last 1976 Westbound recording), Dirtbombs’ faithful rock version of ‘Super Stupid’ (featured on Funkadelic’s all-time 1971 masterwork Maggot Brain), Mophono & Tom Thump’s mesmerising ‘Be My Beach’ (a 1975 Let’s Take It to the Stage LP cut) and Claude Young Jr’s dub rendition of ‘You And Your Folks’ (also from Maggot Brain) are also outstanding.
To cap it all, this triple album package features the fantastic and duly spaced out artwork produced by Detroit Techno artist, Abdul Haqq of Third Earth. If there is any justice in the world, Funkadelic – Reworked By Detroiters should feature in the upper echelons of countless ‘Best Releases of 2017’ critic’s lists and sell by the truckload. This album is an instant remix classic and yet another chapter in the continuing saga of Funkadelic.
See also Dom Walsh’s review of this album here.
Various Artists – Let’s Do The Boogaloo
Compiled and noted by Dean Rudland, this dazzling double album celebrates the contagious mid-1960s US dance music that blended jazz, latin and soul into one irresistible dancefloor-filling package. Often simply viewed as a highly combusted mix of black American and Caribbean music’s that influenced the offspring of Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants raised in New York City, Rudland notes that the boogaloo was also created by African-Americans, from across the country, within the musical worlds of soul and in jazz produced by Lou Donaldson, Willie Bobo and Tony Williams innovatory rhythms for Miles Davis’ second great quintet in the 1960s.
Let’s Do The Boogaloo traces the links between the soul and latin strands of the music (it was never just a beat or a dance craze) over 24 astonishing tracks. From the beginning of the musical form – represented here by comedy dance act Tom & Jerroo’s 1966 breakout hit ‘(Papa Chew) Do The Boo-Ga-Loo Pt 1’ – through to the Latin jazz end of the spectrum (Willie Rosario & His Orchestra’s hypnotic 1968 composition ‘Watusi Boogaloo’), Let’s Do The Boogaloo has it covered. Highlights come thick and fast: The Exotics’ 1967 frantic instrumental ‘Boogaloo Investigator’, The Capitols’ 1966 attempt to repeat the success of the ‘Cool Jerk’ with the driving ‘We Got A Thing That’s In The Groove’ Barry Jones’ rampaging funk workout ‘Let’s Do The Funky Boogaloo Part 1’ (1968), latin jazz music luminary Mongo Santamaria’s razor-sharp groove ‘Mongo’s Boogaloo’, the slinky ‘Funky Funky Boogaloo’ by Jimmy Brown with The Jimmy Brown Band and Memphis legends The Bar-Kays’ ‘Bar-Kays Boogaloo’, to name but a few.
Rudland’s magnificent Let’s Do The Boogaloo double compilation album stands as a monumental testament to the abiding exhilaration and potency of the big boogaloo beat. Though the boogaloo faded from view in the early 70s, its influence could be detected within funk, disco, latin soul and hip-hop into the 80s and beyond. Start spinning this LP and the party has already started, wherever you happen to be. If music really has the power to raise the dead, this is it. Let’s Do The Boogaloo is another contender for reissue compilation of the year.
Various Artists – Mirwood Northern Soul
Compiled and noted by Ady Croasdell, this breathtaking vinyl-only compilation album features 14 hot mid-1960s soul dance masterworks, released by a label that became synonymous with the best Northern Soul in the UK – Mirwood. Randy Wood, a former Vee-Jay executive, started the Mirwood label in 1965. But the Mirwood sound – an up-tempo, L.A. based groove, with yearning vocals – was mostly shaped by Fred Smith and James Carmichael, who wrote/produced and arranged, respectively, the tracks the label released between 1965 and 1968.
Earl Nelson and Bobby Relf/Garrett, of Bob & Earl/ ‘Harlem Shuffle’ fame, dominate Mirwood Northern Soul. Mirwood hit the big time with their second single, ‘The Duck’, attributed to one Jackie Lee, who was, in fact, Earl Nelson. ‘Jackie Lee’ is represented here the jubilant ‘Do The Temptation Walk’ (1965), the propulsive ‘Oh, My Darlin’’ (1966) and the fervent ‘Anything You Want (Any Way You Want It), while Bobby ‘Garrett’ delivers the powerhouse ‘I Can’t Get Away’ (1965) and the driving instrumental version of his hit ‘My Little Girl’, issued as The Bob & Earl Band in the UK to try and cash in on the duos’ belated success with ‘Harlem Shuffle’ in 1969.
Former Ike Turner cohort Jimmy Thomas was recorded by Bobby Relf for Mirwood. Singing his own strident 1966 composition, ‘Where There’s A Will (There’s A Way)’, Thomas rivals his former boss in generating an exciting groove. Former Ikettes, recording as The Mirettes, produced the dynamic ‘I Wanna Do Everything For You Baby’ for Mirwood, but, remarkably, the master tapes for this vital track were not released until 2006. The Olympics were another group that encapsulated the Mirwood sound; ‘Mine Exclusively’ and ‘The Same Old Thing’, both recorded in 1967, are the very quintessence of Northern Soul. Also recorded that year, Curtis Lee’s dramatic, harmonica-driven ‘Is She In Your Town?’ (produced by Sonny Knight), would have been a big hit with UK Mod dance music aficionados, if they managed to hear it.
Mirwood Northern Soul closes with the vocal group The Sheppards’ superb 1967 number, ‘Stubborn Heart’. Though far less frantic than the Mirwood dancer ‘hits’, ‘Stubborn Heart’ is vocal soul classic of the first order. All this heart-stopping Northern Soul action can be yours on vinyl for just £12 pounds – that’s an unbeatable bargain.
Motorhead – Motorhead
This is the 40th-anniversary reissue of Motorhead’s seminal first album. Appropriately, it’s pressed on white vinyl with a silver embossed Motorhead logo on the cover, in the style of its original release on Chiswick, released in June 1977. The package also includes a fully illustrated picture record sleeve.
England’s fervent rejoinder to the MC5 and the Stooges, Motorhead’s utterly idiosyncratic and potent brand of full-on, amphetamine and hard liquor fuelled, metallic rock ‘n’ roll was openly embraced by the leading lights of the mid-1970s punk explosion in the UK. Motorhead were one of the very few bands with a past that were accorded any respect at all by The Damned or the Sex Pistols, and would consequently inspire Napalm Death, Discharge, John Zorn’s Naked City and Metallica.
The late, great Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister formed Motorhead in 1975. Rock ‘n’ roll coursed through every fibre of Lemmy’s being. He was raised on 1950s rock ‘n’ roll (Little Richard was a big favourite), played in the cult 60s band The Rockin’ Vickers (produced by Who/Kinks producer Shel Talmy), worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, was a member of Sam Gopal’s Dream shortly before playing bass with the definitive twisted psychedelic space rock merchants, Hawkwind. It was Lemmy who sang lead vocals on Hawkwind’s hit single, ‘Silver Machine’, a top three hit in the UK during June 1972.
A drug bust at the Canadian border in May 1975 caused the cancellation of a number of Hawkwind gigs and resulted in Lemmy’s dismissal from the band. But you can’t keep a good man down.
Back in London, Lemmy formed Bastard with Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. After a friend told him that Bastard wouldn’t secure many appearances on Top Of The Pops, Lemmy changed the band name to Motorhead. The name was the title of Lemmy’s last composition for Hawkwind – a no holds barred account of one wild night at the Continental Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, which was originally and aptly released on the B-Side of Hawkwind’s ‘Kings Of Speed’ single.
After Larry Wallis left the band and Lucas Fox dismissed, Lemmy and new Motorhead recruits, guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor (1954-2015), would record the definitive version of the song with producer ‘Speedy’ Keen. Other Motorhead anthems, including ‘White Line Fever’, ‘Keep Us On The Road’ and a blistering reading of the classic 1956 Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio’s version of Tiny Bradshaw‘s 1951 song ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’’, were recorded in a two day session at Escape Studios for Ted Carroll of Chiswick Records. This was Carroll’s apology for having failed to show up with recording equipment to record what was planned as Motorhead’s final show.
The album “Motorhead” would ensure that the band would have a career until Lemmy’s death in 2015. The maximum rock ‘n’ roll of “Motorhead” still takes no prisoners, 40 years on.
Motorhead – What’s Words Worth
A welcome vinyl reissue of Big Beat’s barnstorming 1983 live Motorhead album release, What’s Words Worth. The liner bag features edifying “Motorwords” liner notes, which originally graced the 2002 CD edition. These are written by Chiswick/Ace Records co-founder and an eyewitness to the birth of Motorhead’s inimitable brand of metallic rock ‘n’ roll, Ted Carroll.
Recorded at the celebrated Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London on 18th January 1978, What’s Words Worth captures the ‘classic’ Motorhead line-up – the late, great vocalist/ deafening lead and rhythm bassist Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister (1945 – 2015), raw powerhouse guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and innovative drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor (1954-2015) – at the start of the giddying ascent of their illustrious career.
Motorhead had made their live debut at the Roundhouse in July 1975. Returning on 18th February 1978, Motorhead were billed as Iron Fist and the Hordes from Hell (the rationale, if there was any, for this decision is long forgotten). Wilko Johnson was also on the bill (possibly headlining), with another Chiswick Records band, the Count Bishops, providing support. Chiswick were using the Rolling Stones’ mobile studio to record the gig for a planned live Count Bishops album, so were able to accommodate Tony Secunda’s (Motorhead’s notorious and short lived manager) request that the group also be taped two days before the gig. Shortly after the Roundhouse show, Motorhead and Secunda parted company.
The 1978 Roundhouse tapes were in limbo until many years later Motorhead’s new manager, Doug Smith, remembered their existence. Seeing them as an untapped source of revenue, to help fund the band’s incessant touring, supporting their successful Bronze label releases, Smith and the group negotiated for the live album’s issue in March 1983.
Though Motorhead’s nine number set is slightly truncated due to other bands on the bill, many of the tracks from the bands’ eponymous Chiswick album (also recently reissued on Big Beat white vinyl) are featured here: these include rollicking performances of ‘The Watcher’, ‘White Line Fever’, ‘Iron Horse/Born To Lose’ and ‘Keep Us On The Road’.
Other highlights are a blistering attack upon Eddie Holland’s 1963 hit ‘Leaving Here’ (which, Ted Carroll relates, became part of Motorhead’s repertoire due to Lemmy’s love of ‘Honest’ Ronnie Wood’s 60s band the Birds cover), a blitzkrieg version of the classic 1956 Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio’s version of Tiny Bradshaw‘s 1951 song, ‘Train Kept A-Rollin’’, and a hell for leather rendition of the B-side of their dramatic, career igniting first Chiswick “Motorhead” single, ‘City Kids’ (co-written by original Bastard/Motorhead guitarist, Larry Wallis of the Pink Fairies).
At the close of this now historic set, Lemmy, for some inexplicable reason, is heard to encourage the appreciative Roundhouse audience to “Read plenty of Wordsworth”. Hence the origin of the title of this album, which Carroll accurately describes “as a testament to a band with the balls to keep on keeping on in the face of almost insurmountable odds.”
All words by Ian Johnston. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.