Ace Records is Going Wild!…not just with a rip-roaring rock-and-roll compilation of that name, but with a journey to the farthest reaches of the galaxy! Yes, the London-based label is travelling from the Bay Area to the Milky Way with two of its latest releases: Greatest Hits from Outer Space and Going Wild! Music City Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Based on the 24 tracks of Ace’s Greatest Hits from Outer Space, the final frontier engaged a wide variety of artists in every conceivable musical genre. On this zany set compiled by Tony Rounce, you’ll hear classical tracks, jazz, soul, folk and rock from one of the most eclectic artist rosters on an Ace release yet. And that’s saying something!
There are delightfully kitschy song titles a-plenty here: “Maid of the Moon,” from jazz piano great Dick Hyman and vocalist Mary Mayo; “Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer” by the legendarily swinging Ella Fitzgerald; “Destination Moon” from the pop vocal quartet The Ames Brothers (including future solo star Ed, then Eddie, Ames); exotica king Les Baxter’s “Lunar Rhapsody.”
No space-themed anthology would be complete without an appearance from producer Joe Meek’s “Telstar,” which charted simultaneously in the U.S. and U.K. in its recording by The Tornados. The equally famous “Space Oddity” from David Bowie appears in an early alternate version recorded before Bowie’s departure from the Deram label. Shelved until 1989, it’s a more desolate and eerie version than the hit single. Considerably jauntier is The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman,” a Top 40 country-esque romp from the group’s psychedelic Fifth Dimension album.
A few famous television themes appear via The Ventures’ surf take on “The Twilight Zone,” Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s “Doctor Who,” and Leonard Nimoy’s “Theme from Star Trek.” The original Doctor Who theme is heard in its mono mix. What Nimoy, a.k.a. Mr. Spock, had to do with the rendition of the Star Trek theme included on his Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space LP is up in the air (or in outer space…), but the rendition of the famed Alexander Courage/Gene Roddenberry tune is a faithful one. Movie themes haven’t been left out, either, even “inherited” ones: the set kicks off with the Berliner Philharmoniker’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” from 1958. A decade later, Stanley Kubrick famously utilized the performance for the soundtrack to his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, gaining it immortality.
Top-tier soul man Bobby Womack reinvents Jonathan King’s “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon,” a No. 3 U.K./No. 17 hit in 1965 for its writer. Womack cut his version in Memphis with co-producer Chips Moman, bringing a new dimension to it in the process. The similarly-titled “Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon” is a Jimmy Webb tune brought to life by Thelma Houston on the occasion of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. The moon figures in yet more tracks here, like Moon Mullican’s “Rocket to the Moon” (1953) and Johnny Harris’ dark instrumental “Footprints on the Moon,” also from 1969. (Mr. Mullican’s name apparently derived from illegal booze, not from the actual moon.) Neil Armstrong was among those astronauts celebrated by Webb with his song; John Stewart (“Daydream Believer”) took the tribute one step further with his “Armstrong.” Lightnin’ Hopkins saluted another famous astronaut with “Happy Blues for John Glenn.”
Nick Robbins has remastered all tracks. You might find yourself rockin’ in orbit with Greatest Hits from Outer Space. Live long, and prosper! After the jump, you’ll find the full track listing with discography and an order link. Plus: ground control to Major Tom – we’re headed from outer space to the San Francisco Bay Area!
Going Wild! is the latest of a recent number of anthologies, both from Ace and the U.S. Omnivore Records label, dedicated to mining the vaults of the late Ray Dobard’s Music City Records label of Berkeley, California. One of the most acclaimed regional labels of all time, Music City boasted a deep catalogue reflecting the titanic changes in African-American music styles from doo-wop to rock and roll to funk. Ace’s 3-CD box set The Music City Story spanned 25 years and 78 tracks of R&B in all its guises, and Street Sounds from the Bay Area tackled the label’s funk sounds circa 1971-1975. Omnivore has tapped the label further for Darondo’s Listen to My Song: The Music City Sessions, The Two Things in One’s Together Forever: The Music City Sessions, and three vinyl-only, various-artists releases under the umbrella of The Music City Sessions. (Ace has also distributed the Omnivore releases in the United Kingdom.)
Going Wild! turns the clock back all the way back to 1957-1961 for a survey of Music City’s earliest “rockabilly ravers, piano pounders and juke jivers.” Amazingly, only six of the songs on this 24-track compendium saw release during that period; a seventh was first issued in 2010, and the rest all appear here for the very first time anywhere. Compiler/producer/annotator/overall historian Alec Palao does a wonderful job in the 16-page booklet unraveling many of the mysteries associating these recordings as to the actual personnel on many of the never-released tracks. All 24 sides embody the rough and tumble young years of rock and roll, with untrained singers and musicians tapping into the raw emotion of the burgeoning genre. And so these songs take in R&B, rockabilly, boogie-woogie and even teen pop from vocal groups and solo artists alike.
Among the many highlights: “Rockin’ Satellite,” a jumpin’ number from The 3 Honeydrops, a.k.a. Lani Wood, Jerry Marcellino and Mel Larson. The latter two would go on to produce a string of hits for, among others, The Jackson 5 and the young Michael Jackson. Roy Burk and The Bell Bottoms supply “Rock to the Boogie,” a prototypical Elvis-meets-Bill-Haley song with a touch of “Jailhouse Rock” in it. The ghost of Mr. Presley reappears on 1959’s “Vera Lee,” recorded by an unknown artist thought to be Johnny Draper. There’s plenty of honking brass and twangy guitars on the vibrant if unpolished tracks here. Pee Wee Kingsly and Sugar Pie DeSanto (an Ace favorite with her Go Go Power: The Complete Chess Singles 1961-1966) bring out the rhythm and blues for “Nickel and a Dime,” while doo-wop gets its day on selections including The Five Crystels’ [sic] “Oh That Train (Clickety Clack).” Though called “Clickety Clack,” it’s too close for comfort to a certain “Yakety Yak.” Robbie Meldano should have ruled the sock hop with his hiccupping, catchy and teen-centric “Let’s Go Steady.” The Gaylarks’ “Doodle Doo” (not actually by The Gaylarks, per the liner notes, but that’s another story!) is a fun dance trifle.
Nick Robbins has remastered the all-mono Going Wild!, which is available now for order at the links below!
- Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op 30 – Berlin Philharmoniker (Deutsche Grammophon LP 136 001, 1958)
- Destination Moon – The Ames Brothers (RCA EP EPA 422, 1958)
- Lunar Rhapsody – The Les Baxter Orchestra with Samuel J. Hoffman, theremin (Capitol 10080, 1947)
- Rocket to the Moon – Moon Mullican (King 1198, 1953)
- Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer – Ella Fitzgerald with Sy Oliver and His Orchestra (Decca 27528, 1951)
- Rockin’ in the Orbit (Space Satellite) – Jimmie Haskell and His Orchestra (Imperial 5480, 1957)
- Rocket Ship – Vernon Green and the Medallions (Dooto 454, 1960)
- Telstar – The Tornados (Decca F 11494, 1963)
- Happy Blues for John Glenn – Lightnin’ Hopkins (Bluesville LP 1057, 1962)
- Spaceship to Mars – Gene Vincent (Columbia LP 33SX 1412, 1962)
- Doctor Who – BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Decca F 11837, 1964)
- Twilight Zone – The Ventures (Dolton LP BST 2027, 1964)
- Everyone’s Gone to the Moon – Bobby Womack (Minit LP ST 24027, 1969)
- Theme from Star Trek – Leonard Nimoy (Dot 17038, 1967)
- Mr. Spaceman – The Byrds (Columbia 43766, 1966)
- Visa to the Stars – Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley (Vanguard 35051, 1966)
- Space Oddity – David Bowie (rec. 1969, rel. Deram CD 8447482, 1989)
- Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon – Thelma Houston (Dunhill promo single SPD-11, 1969)
- Footprints on the Moon – Johnny Harris and His Orchestra (Warner Bros. 7319, 1969)
- Space Flight – I Roy with Lee Perry (Attack ATT 8050, 1972)
- Armstrong – John Stewart (Capitol 2605, 1969)
All tracks stereo
- Rockin’ Satellite – The 3 Honeydrops (Music City 814-A, 1957)
- Rock to the Boogie – Roy Burk and the Bell Bottoms (Ace CDCHD 1268, 2010)
- Devil’s Child – Jimmy Cicero
- Vera Lee – Unknown Artist
- Oobie Doobie Baby – The Klixs
- Lovin’ Charlene – The Emarks
- Mr. Rock-n-Roll – The Gaylarks (Music City 809-A, 1957)
- Coast to Coast – Mike Smith
- Going Wild – Willie Moore
- Santa Rita Jail – The Pendletons
- Honey Drop – The 3 Honeydrops (Music City 813-A, 1957)
- Yay Yay – The Five Crystels
- Butterball – Frankie Taro
- Hoochi Coochi Man – The Holidays
- Baby What You Do to Me – Ron & Don
- Nickel and a Dime – Pee Wee Kingsly feat. Sugar Pie DeSanto (Music City 824-A, 1959)
- On That Train (a.k.a.) Clickety Clack – The Five Crystels (Delcro 827-A, 1959)
- Let’s Go Steady Baby – Robbie Meldano
- Goofin’ Off – The Dialtones
- Chickaboom – The 3 Honeydrops
- Silly Billy – Sonny Raye
- Doodle-Doo – The Gaylarks (Music City 819-B, 1958)
- Roll On Little Mama – The Mandarins
- Street Rock – Unknown Artist
All tracks previously unreleased except where indicated above. All tracks mono.
except Tracks 4-6, 8-10, 13-14, 20, 23-24 mono.