mostly music

Ace Records: From market stall to one of the world’s most innovative reissue labels – Features – Music – The Independent

It sounds like a pub quiz question. Where would you find a masterclass in music selection from Bob Dylan next to a primer on Japanese rock’n’roll (rockabiri, anyone?) and singer James Carr’s gut-wrenching version of the soul anthem “The Dark End of the Street”?

The answer can be found in an anonymous office-cum-warehouse in Harlesden, north-west London. It’s the home of Ace Records, a company that has established a reputation as one of the most innovative and comprehensive reissue labels around – and one that celebrates its 40th birthday next month with a box set of 7in vinyl singles chronicling its history.

That solid reputation is built on a mantra that has always been: the best of everything. That means using the foremost experts in their field and remastering studios that are among the finest in the world. The result is a catalogue of some 2,300 titles that covers everything from the original version of “Louie Louie” (by LA doo-wop singer Richard Berry, in case you’re wondering) to Sniff ’n’ the Tears’s top 20 US hit “Driver’s Seat”.

Yet it all started with a market stall in Notting Hill, where Ted Carroll, a former bank clerk, bus driver and latterly manager of a promising Irish rock band called Thin Lizzy, had decided to go back to his first love – records. He sold them, he bought them and catered for those for whom the smell of vinyl was as addictive as any drug. Soon he was joined by an old friend, the Belfast-born Roger Armstrong, who, after taking Celtic rock band Horslips out on tour, decided he wasn’t cut out for the management life. Another stall was opened in Soho, followed in 1975 by the Rock On record shop in Camden.

Source: Ace Records: From market stall to one of the world’s most innovative reissue labels – Features – Music – The Independent

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