Ace is saying “All Aboard!” with a pair of recent releases spotlighting the label’s pursuit of the diverse sounds of music. The London American Label Year by Year: 1966 continues Ace’s long-running survey of the American sides issued on London Records in the U.K. between the 1950s and the 1970s while All Aboard! 25 Train Tracks Calling at All Musical Stations spotlights (you guessed it!) “train songs.”
The eleventh volume of Ace’s The London American Label series is here, with 28 selections from the year 1966. With this edition, Ace has now surveyed each year between 1956 and 1966 in its year-by-year chronicle. In ’66, England won the World Cup – and London American released roughly 100 singles licensed from U.S. labels. Tony Rounce’s typically excellent liner notes for this latest volume inform us that 14 American imprints including White Whale made their first London appearances that year, while other U.S. labels such as Elektra and Monument made their departures from the roster. (Monument played such a major role at London that its releases had their own London Monument imprint.) By the numbers, London American issued 88 singles in 1966 (of a planned 91 – three didn’t get past the promo stage), only eight of which made the U.K. Top 50. But the tracks on The London American Label Year by Year: 1966 still showcase the wide variety of sounds and genres available on the label that year.
Pop , of course, played a big part in the London slate for 1966 with this compilation including tracks from The Vogues (“Five O’Clock World”), The Association (“Cherish”), The Critters (“Mr. Dieingly Sad”) and the Phil Spector stable (The Righteous Brothers’ “The White Cliffs of Dover,” The Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music,” Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep – Mountain High”). In the case of “River Deep,” it was London American’s biggest-selling single of the year and a U.K. No. 1 that famously couldn’t get higher than No. 88 in its native U.S., dejecting Spector and hastening his retreat (for a while, at least) from production.
R&B remained popular at London American thanks to tracks like Darrow Fletcher’s “The Pain Gets a Little Deeper,” Joe Simon’s “Teenager’s Prayer,” Barbara Lynn’s “You Left the Water Running” and The Intruders’ “United.” Despite the Top 15 R&B placement of “United,” London didn’t pursue any more singles from writer-producer Kenny Gamble’s eponymous label. Roy Head brought the blue-eyed soul with his American cover of a British tune, Peter Callender and Les Reed’s majestic “To Make a Big Man Cry” (first recorded by Tom Jones). The Poets, heard on early northern soul favorite “You Blew a Good Thing,” were billed on London American as “The American Poets” due to a Scottish signing named The Poets.
This volume also features excursions into country (Jeannie Seely’s “Don’t Touch Me”) and folk (Judy Collins’ “I’ll Keep It with Mine,” featuring Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield). “I’ll Keep It with Mine” was a Bob Dylan song; the Bard of Hibbing’s influence can also be strongly felt on the folk-rock of Link Cromwell’s “Crazy Like a Fox.” Who was Link Cromwell? The name was a pseudonym for none other than Lenny Kaye, future Nuggets creator and longtime Patti Smith collaborator. The rocking side of London is represented with music from Love (the storming “7 and 7 Is”), The Butterfield Blues Band (“Come On In”), The Strangeloves (“Hand Jive”) , rockabilly pioneer Gene Vincent (the greasy “Bird-Doggin'”) and Orlando, Florida’s We the People (“You Burn Me Up and Down”).
As usual, Ace has where possible mastered all of these eclectic tracks from the very same tapes used to make the production masters of the original London American singles. Every track is in its original mono. Tony Rounce provides a historical essay as well as the detailed track-by-track annotations, and Duncan Cowell has remastered.
The train song is, of course, a staple of American music, particularly in the folk and country genres. As compiler Vicki Fox notes in the liners for this All Aboard!, trains brought adventure – and therefore plenty of fodder for songwriters. Many of the most famous train songs aren’t here, nor are some of the performers most associated with the mini-genre, such as Johnny Cash. But there are plenty of locomotive-themed surprises.
Over the course of these 25 tracks, you can board a “One Way Ticket to the Blues” with Neil Sedaka’ s 1959 recording or the “Night Train” with James Brown’s 1962 single. Chuck Berry’s taking the “Downbound Train” (1956) while Luther Ingram sings of the “Ghetto Train” (1971). American performers don’t have all the fun on this set; British harmonica player Cyril Davies is represented with his 1963 Pye recording of “Country Line Special” and none other than Dusty Springfield serves up “Won’t Be Long.” Blues and gospel figure into this collection, too, on songs such as Little Walter’s “Up the Line” and Sister Rosetta Thorpe’s “This Train,” respectively.
Many other familiar names dot this volume. Peggy Lee ups the jazz quotient with her cool delivery of “It Takes a Long Long Train with a Red Caboose (To Carry My Blues Away).” The Shangri-Las offer Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich’s “The Train from Kansas City.” Behind the scenes, the great Bob Crewe produced Virgil Holmes’ 1961 “Ghost Train” at Atlantic. Nick Robbins has remastered this fun collection of songs designed to get you moving, and Vicki Fox provides both an introductory essay and track-by-track commentary. Bring on Volume Two! “Last Train to Clarksville,” “7:10 from Suburbia,” “Trains and Boats and Planes” and countless others are still waiting at the station!
Both of these releases are available now from Ace and can be ordered at the links below!
- Five O’Clock World – The Vogues (HLU 10014)
- Love’s Made a Fool of You – The Bobby Fuller Four (HLU 10041)
- Cast Your Fate to the Wind – Shelby Flint (HLT 10068)
- Open the Door to Your Heart – Darrell Banks (HL 10070)
- Come On In – The Butterfield Blues Band (HLZ 10100)
- Don’t Touch Me – Jeannie Seely (HLU 10052)
- Crazy Like a Fox – Link Cromwell (HLB 10040)
- The Pain Gets a Little Deeper – Darrow Fletcher (HLU 10024)
- I’ll Keep It with Mine – Judy Collins (HLZ 10029)
- The Rains Came – The Sir Douglas Quintet (HLU 10019)
- She Blew a Good Thing – The American Poets (HLC 10037)
- Mister Bang Bang Man – Little Hank (HLU 10090)
- Bird-Doggin’ – Gene Vincent (HLH 10079)
- Teenager’s Prayer – Joe Simon (HLU 10057)
- Hand Jive – The Strangeloves (HLZ 10063)
- The White Cliffs of Dover – The Righteous Brothers (HL 10086)
- Cherish – The Association (HLT 10074)
- You Left the Water Running – Barbara Lynn (HLU 10094)
- United – The Intruders (HL 10069)
- Ever See a Diver Kiss His Wife While the Bubbles Bounce About Above the Water – Shirley Ellis (HLR 10021)
- Party People – Ray Stevens (HLU 10016)
- I Can Hear Music – The Ronettes (HLU 10087)
- You Burn Me Up and Down – We the People (HLH 10089)
- Dieingly Sad – The Critters (HLR 10071)
- 7 and 7 Is – Love (HLZ 10073)
- I’m a Nut – Leroy Pullins (HLR 10056)
- To Make a Big Man Cry – Roy Head (HLZ 10097)
- River Deep – Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner (HLU 10046)
All catalogue numbers for London American releases in 1966. All tracks mono.
- The Freedom Riders – Harold Jackson and the Jackson Brothers (Edsel 787, 1961)
- The Memphis Train – Rufus Thomas (Stax 250, 1968)
- Country Line Special – Cyril Davies and His Rhythm and Blues All-Stars (Pye 7N 25194, 1963)
- Stop That Train – Keith and Tex (Island WI-3091, 1968)
- Ghost Train – Virgil Holmes (Atlantic 2103, 1961)
- It Takes a Long, Long Train with a Red Caboose (To Carry My Blues Away) – Peggy Lee (Capitol 445, 1947)
- Won’t Be Long – Dusty Springfield (Philips LP SRBL 1002, 1965) (*)
- Freedom Train – James Carr (Goldwax 338, 1968)
- Number 9 Train – Tarheel Slim (Fury 1016, 1958)
- Pan American Man – Cliff Carlisle (Bluebird 7717, 1937)
- Last Train to San Fernando – Johnny Duncan & The Blue Grass Boys (Columbia DB 3959, 1957)
- The Train from Kansas City – The Shangri-Las (Red Bird 10-036, 1965) (*)
- The Downbound Train – Chuck Berry (Chess 1615, 1956)
- Ghetto Train – Luther Ingram (Ko Ko 2108, 1971) (*)
- This Train – Sister Rosetta Thorpe (Decca 48043, 1947)
- One Way Ticket (To the Blues) – Neil Sedaka (RCA Victor 47-7595, 1959) (*)
- Psychedelic Train – Derrick Harriott & The Chosen Few (Songbird SB 1029, 1970)
- Hurry Hurry Choo Choo – Sharon Tandy (Atlantic 584181, 1968)
- Big Train – Bobby Wayne (Jerden 709, 1963)
- Up the Line – Little Walter (Checker 1043, 1963)
- Night Train – James Brown & The Famous Flames (King 5614, 1962)
- Steam – Caroline Day (Dimension 1025, 1964)
- Train to Skaville – The Ethiopians (Rio R 130, 1967)
- Go Go Train – Jackie Paine (Jet Stream 725, 1966)
- Death Train Blues – Daddy Long Legs (Norton LP ED 382, 2012)
All tracks mono except (*) stereo