CD (Compact Disc)
Label: FANTASTIC VOYAG
Release date: 16/07/2012
Catalog no.: FVDD0000117
Item ID: 374693
'The Complete Solo Sides and Sessions'. Johnny Ace, one of R&B's brightest but most short-lived supernovas, is celebrated on Ace's Wild!, two discs roping together all his solo singles along with sublime piano sessions for the likes of B.B. King and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Compiled and annotated in intricate detail by Dave Penny, the set is high on the lower elements of the battered soul, running the gamut from yearning to regret, highlights including his inimitable grasp of the heart-ballad on hits including "My Song", "The Clock" and "Please Forgive Me", but also jumping R&B outings such as "Never Let Me Go".
Ace carried all the credentials of a short-lived R&B legend, from lucky studio break leading to huge hit debut, success accompanied by ruthless music business skulduggery, escalating alcohol relieving pressure and dramatically tragic death, in this case dressing room jinx with a pistol resulting in fatal Russian roulette-style death on Christmas Day, 1954. Born in 1929 to a musical family in South Memphis, John Marshall Junior taught himself to play piano at home after returning from service in World War Two. By the end of the decade, he was playing sessions for B.B. King, Earl Forest and Bobby "Blue" Bland, some chance fooling on the piano at a session resulting in his first single for David Mattis' Duke label. "My Song" subsequently spent nine weeks on top of the R&B charts in late 1952. Mattis was then systematically ousted, seeing both his Duke label and star artist hijacked by heavyweight music mogul Don Robey. A string of hits ensued, including "Cross My Heart", "The Clock", "Saving My Love For You", "Please Forgive Me" and "Never Let Me Go", Ace continuing to play blues sessions, while Robey whisked him to L.A. to plant him over the more sophisticated backdrops of the Johnny Otis and Johnny Board orchestras. By 1954, the pressure was getting to him as recording sessions were fitted around gruelling touring (often supported by Big Mama Thornton, their rare duet on "Yes, Baby" also included on this compilation). Increasingly cushioned by alcohol and prone to depression, Ace accidentally shot himself in the head while fooling with a gun in the dressing room at a Christmas day show in Houston. Robey swiftly cashed in with what became one of Ace's biggest hits; the heavenly "Pledging My Love", assuring posthumous immortality, further bolstered by tribute singles from the likes of Johnny Fuller, Frankie Ervin, Varetta Dillard, the Rovers and Five Wings; featured here as bonus tracks, providing a poignant finale. Johnny Ace was a monumental talent dealt the worst hand imaginable much too soon. By rounding up every recording credited to the artist in his own right, plus his neglected session work, Ace's Wild! provides an overdue, comprehensive survey of - and worthy tribute to - his short but spectacular career.
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