Album review: THE JIVE ACES – Diggin’ The Roots Vol.1: Rockin’ Rhythm & Blues

THE JIVE ACES - Diggin' The Roots Vol.1: Rockin' Rhythm & Blues

Golden Age Recordings [Release date 23.06.17]

The hi-energy, jump jive combo The Jive Aces have been around long enough to have been on Opportunity Knocks. But their chosen music predates even that show by several decades, as they raid the golden 40’s and 50’s era for their brand of swing laden, jump jive and rockabilly which makes for a good time party album.

Significantly they formed in the late 80’s on the coat tails of the British jump revival, heralded by the likes of The Chevalier Brothers, The Big Town Playboys, Kit Packham Ray Gelato and even Wolfie Witcher etc., and this their 12th album acts like a musical re-appraisal of their influences.

They add r&b and put the emphasis on energy and entertainment – if not originality – especially when it comes to covering the usual suspects of Louis Jordan, Louis Prima and Big Joe Turner etc., and their more obvious songs.

That said, they do open the album with their very own ‘Rock & Roll Movie Star’, a stop-time jump jive and rockabilly track with a narrative that references beautiful girls, hot-rod cars and guitars, all topped by John Fordham’s sizzling sax.

They do a reasonable job of covering Big Joe Turner’s ‘Feelin’ Happy’, while guest vocalist Cassidy Janson, makes two appearances on the wailing sax and bustling piano of Ruth Brown’s ‘Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean’ and the more impressive cover of Louis Jordan’s ‘I Want You To be My Baby’, on which her scatter gun vocal delivery and the band’s call and response section is a highlight.

But having turned up the heat, you anticipate the band will tear things on up Jordan’s ‘Choo Choo Ch’Boogie’, but in truth Ian Clarkson vocals are slightly too retained and only another rip-roaring sax break rescues it from being dutiful rather than inspired..

The same applies to ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Boogie’. Perhaps by the end of the album the band are a victim of their own relentless drive which doesn’t quite deliver the explosive finale you might have imagined.

No matter, there’s still plenty to enjoy, especially the honking sax led version of Red Prysock’s ‘No.13 (Fruit Boots)’, on which sax player John Fordham and pianist Vince Hurley star.

For the rest the album has its moments when the band’s slip into overdrive on Louis Prima’s Jump ‘Jive & Wail’, punctuated by sax stabs, before both horn players and pianist stretch out with brief, but uplifting solos

‘Diggin’ The Roots Vol.1: Rockin’ Rhythm & Blues’ does what it says on the tin. The band cover all aspects of jump jive, swing, rockabilly and old style rhythm and blues, and for anyone not already familiar with either the band or the material, this is a good introduction. ***½

Review by Pete Feenstra

Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 4 August 2020.

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