Saturday, 27 September 2008

"Inner Spectrum" by ACE SPECTRUM (2007 Rhino 'Expanded & Remastered" CD Reissue with Bill Inglot Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…I Don’t Want To Play Around…"

Released on vinyl June 1974 in the USA on Atlantic SD 7299 - "Inner Spectrum" by ACE SPECTRUM is actually a very Gamble & Huff Philly sounding record. Quite apart from being something of a lost classic - its smooth string-drenched Soul has always been hard to find on vinyl (particularly in the UK) and pricey too. So its 'UK' reissue on this 2007 Expanded CD Remaster by America's Rhino is very welcome indeed to soul fans everywhere. Here are the details...

UK released October 2007 – "Inner Spectrum" by ACE SPECTRUM on Rhino 8122-76429-2 (Barcode 081227642921) is an 'Expanded & Remastered' CD Edition with three Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows...

1. Don't Send Nobody Else
2. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
3. If You Were There
4. Moving On
5. Pickup [Side 2]
6. Me And My Love
7. Easy
8. I Don't Want To Play Around
Tracks 1 to 8 make up the original June 1974 US vinyl album "Inner Spectrum" (Atlantic SD 7299). BILL INGLOT – one of Rhino's long-standing Audio Engineers has remastered the original tapes to perfection – this is a wonderful sounding Soul CD.

The last three cuts are bonuses. Track 9 is the 'Mono Single Version' of the hugely popular 1974 single hit "Don't Send Nobody Else" on Atco 3012 penned by the dynamic songwriting duo of NICHOLAS ASHFORD and VALERIE SIMPSON. Track 10 is an 'Alternate Take' of "Don't Send Nobody Else" in Stereo (similar to the album cut) - while the CD finishes with "Runnin' Out Baby" - a completely new song by Johnson and Zant found in the vaults and aired for the first time anywhere for this issue.

A four-piece male vocal Soul group - ACE SPECTRUM consisted of RUDY GAY, AUBREY JOHNSON, ELLIOT ISAAC and ED ZANT with Gay, Zant and Johnson being the principal songs writers. The album's overall feel is that of the O’JAYS meets the CHI-LITES meets the SPINNERS meets HAROLD MELVIN and THE BLUENOTES – soft sensual soul with tasty brass fills puncturing the string arrangements complimenting the ever cascading falsetto vocals. Each band member was able to hold their own as a lead vocalist, yet they made an equally impressive sound as a foursome. This is particularly in evidence in the album's big ballad finisher "I Don't Want To Play Around" penned by Ed Zant and Aubrey Johnson. It saunters along with vocal pyrotechnics for about 4 of its lush 7 minutes when it suddenly goes into a Salsa finish – funky as James Brown’s DNA – and so Philly that its just not true! Lovers of all forms of Seventies Soul will adore it!

There are a number covers on the album. Track 2 is first up. James Taylor's sweetly aching “Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" is similar to "Love The One You're With" by Stephen Stills - a rock tune that lends itself to Soul interpretation – and will always come out a winner because the song itself is so strong. It was The Isley Brothers who first realized the Soul feel to "Lonely" when they covered it for their 1973 album "3 + 3" (the original is on James Taylor’s 1972 Warner Brothers album "One Man Dog"). The Ace Spectrum version is even slower than The Isleys take and ooh so sweet - one of the genuine gems on this re-release.  Mining that same Isleys album - "If You Were There" is a cover from it and a lovely version too.

I would admit that some may find the sound of these tracks just 'too' syrupy for their liking but if you’re willing to take a chance – it’s a purchase you will enjoy so much. They released another album "Low Rent Rendezvous" in 1975 again on Atlantic Records (SD 18143) but that album isn’t in this series – maybe next time.

To sum up – a rare Soft Soul album most people thought they would never actually see on a proper domestically released CD – and yet another superb job done by Rhino. Recommended...

PS: This release is part of Rhino's 'CLASSIC SOUL ALBUM - REMASTERED & EXPANDED' Series. Most titles are first time onto CD and are rare soul albums from the Warner/Atlantic/Cotillion/Elektra vaults. Other titles are:

1. BLUE MAGIC – Blue Magic [see REVIEW]
2. DONNY HATHAWAY – Come Back Charleston Blue [see REVIEW]
3. LEROY HUTSON – Paradise [see REVIEW]
4. RONN MATLOCK – Love City [see REVIEW]
5. GWEN McCRAE – Gwen McCrae
6. GWEN McCRAE – On My Way


PPS: In 2016 - the 2007 CD has been deleted a good few years now and acquired a nasty price tag- so shop around when trying to acquire a copy...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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