Review: A welcome return
The Amazing Rhythm Aces The Borderline, London
Monday 11 May 1998
The synthesis, however, was all their own, given its identity by Russell Smith's remarkable voice, croaking its way through one bar, soaring out of sight on the next. The band epitomised blue-eyed southern country soul, seasoned with Smith's wry sense of humour. A trio of hits, "Third Rate Romance", "Amazing Grace (Used to be Her Favorite Song)" and "The End is not in Sight", was not enough to pay the bills, and in 1980 they went their own ways.
After 15 years they decided to try again, and the re-formed Aces include four originals - Smith, bassist Jeff "Stick" Davis and keyboard players Billy Farhcart and James Hooker. Drummer Butch McDade would have completed the pack, but alas, he is undergoing treatment for cancer. He is replaced by Michael Organ, and the Nineties band also includes guitarist Kelvin Holly. On Tuesday, after festivals in Switzerland and Ireland, they played their first-ever London gig, on the back of a new CD, Out of the Blue. The Borderline is their natural home, a small Charing Cross Road country- rock club which, like so many pub venues of old, sports a huge pillar in the centre of the floor. Fortunately, the acoustics are far better than the sight lines.
It was worth the wait. Even a 25-year wait. Smith, built like a bullfrog, is a natural showman, and though his voice may have lost the very top of its range it remains a remarkably expressive vehicle. It needs to be, since behind the down-home humour and slick, elegant musicianship lie some of the most affecting of all love songs. "Burning the Ballroom Down", which the band casually put third in the running order, is perhaps their masterpiece. With similar skill, "Della's Long Brown Hair" encapsulates a complete relationship in three pared-down verses. But while you stifle a manly sob, the band is already yee-hawing through "Rednecks Unplugged".
Out of the Blue is the band's first collection of new songs since 1980, and it is as if they have never been away. When Smith glides into the first major chord change on "Love's On the Way", the ghost of Otis Redding is standing beside him. Maybe the economics of running an unfashionable group will be no better this time round, but in an ideal world rock'n'roll would always be this good.
Life & Style blogs
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Scottish salmon sales leap as Asia develops a taste
Grim second life of the 'breastaurant': The oft-loathed sector is booming in the States thanks to Hooters, Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilt
Health: When masturbation can be fatal: The practice of auto-erotic asphyxia is often concealed by a coroner's verdict. Monique Roffey looks at a lethal taboo
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore disappears over Java Sea
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...