Reissue CD Review: Amazing Rhythm Aces – Stacked Deck / Too Stuffed to Jump (Real Gone, 2013)
The U.S. Top 40 is a fickle mistress that rewards one-hit wonders of many stripes. One such stripe is the talented band with a long history and deep catalog who, due to complications of label politics, promotion, distribution or simply the herd-like buying patterns of the record buying public, only manages to strike a single hot iron. Such was this superb Memphis band, whose 1975 debut single, “Third Rate Romance,” cracked the Top 20, but whose follow-ups fell shorter. They had better luck on the country charts, where their soulful sound produced two more hits, “Amazing Grace (Used to Be Her Favorite Song)” (#10 country, #72 pop) and “The End is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune)” (#20 country, #42 pop). All three appeared on the group’s debut and sophomore albums, which are anthologized here along with the non-LP B-side “Mystery Train.”
Despite their Knoxville roots, the Aces were a Memphis band, with southern roots stretching across country-rock, blues, soul, funk and gospel. Their debut album is filled with solid originals and a superb R&B cover of Charlie Rich’s “Who Will the Next Fool Be?” The next year’s follow-up followed a similar formula, and once again cracked the country Top 40. The band was effective in playing everything from straight country to gospel harmonies, swampy funk, southern rock and even ragtime and progressive changes. Real Gone’s reissue improves upon Collectors’ Choice’s out-of-print two-fer, with fresh remasterings, a 12-page booklet featuring full-panel album covers, lyrics, credits and new liners. If all you know is “Third Rate Romance,” this is a great opportunity to hear the fine albums behind the hit.