Friday, February 3, 2023

The Amazing Rhythm Aces - How The Hell Do You Spell Rhythum (1980 us, excellent southern classic rock, 2004 remaster)

A record that really works  drives all errant thoughts out of your mind and makes you listen. The Amazing Rhythm Aces '"How the Hell Do You Spell Rythum?" does that for me. Many of the reasons are subjective, of course, but not all. The objective ones relate to how well this band –surely one of the best around– has mastered what are, for me, the fundamentals. You might think any band good enough to be recorded several times must have the fundamentals down- but then you might think the same of any team competing in the National Football League, where the Pittsburgh Steelers, like the Green Bay Packers before them, beat up everyone for years simply by being better at the basics. 

In the case of "How Do You Spell…..," your body notes the difference between merely  good timing and excellent timing even if you don't form conscious thoughts about it, and timing is the most fundamental of the fundamentals.   Studying Van Morrison's Wild Night, in which timing is virtually everything, will show you the Aces were on top of  it during these sessions. 

Their whole approach is fundamental to start with, in the sense of sticking close to the main sources of rock: basic black and basic white, commonly called blues or  r-&-b and country, the two kinds of music that Elvis Presley started with. A Muscle Shoals product, this album  never strays far from either and ends with a probe back into each with gospel overtones: I Got the Feeling, written by Eddie Hinton and Dan Penn, is r-&-b with black-gospel feel ings tugging at it, and Give Me Flowers While I'm Living, by Louise Certain, Elvin Bigger, and Gladys Stacey, is both bluegrass and white gospel. 

The Aces get a soaring slide solo from Duncan Cameron on Taj Mahal's Farther On Down the Road and some high-profile moments from sax player Al Garth, guesting from the Dirt Band, but generally they feature a modest sneakiness among   the instrumentalists  rather than big showy displays. If any- one is spotlighted, it is-as it should be- vocalist Russell Smith, who just keeps getting better and better. He has grown by leaps and bounds technically, but he hasn't lost anything of the odd combination of boyish and worldly attitudes he brings to a song.

Behind him the band leaves the optimal amount of air and plays some fills that will roll your socks up and down while generally making everything seem simple and easy. It may be simple, but albums of this stature are rare enough to prove it isn't easy. 
by Noel Coppag
1. What Kind Of Love Is This? (Duncan Cameron) - 4:20
2. Object Of My Affection (Delbert McClinton) - 2:41
3. You Left The Water Running (Rick Hall, Dan Penn, Oscar Frank) - 3:20
4. I Musta Died And Gone To Texas (Russell Smith) - 3:06
5. Living On Borrowed Time (David H. McDade) - 3:45
6. Wild Night (Van Morrison) - 3:42
7. Big Ole Brew (Russell Smith) - 2:43
8. Farther On Down The Road (Taj Mahal, Jesse Ed Davis) - 4:41
9. I Got The Feeling (Eddie Hinton) - 5:46
10.Give Me The Flowers While I'm Living (Louise Certain, Elvin Bigger, Gladys Stacey Flatt) - 2:29

The Amazing Rhythm Aces
*James Hooker - Clavinet, Keyboards, Piano, Electric Piano, Vocal Harmony, Vocals
*Butch McDade - Drums, Percussion, Tambourine, Vocal Harmony, Vocals
*Russell Smith - Composer, Guitar, Vocals
*Duncan Cameron - Dobro, Guitar, Steel Guitar, Mandolin, Vocal Harmony, Vocals
*Jeff "Stick" Davis - Bass
*Billy Earheart - Accordion, Keyboards, Organ
*Ronnie Eades - Baritone Saxophone
*Harrison Galloway - Trumpet
*Al Garth - Horn Arrangements, Alto Saxophone
*Mickey Buckins - Percussion
*Harrison Calloway, Jr. - Trumpet
*Jimmy Johnson - Rhythm Guitar