Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beside myself : Ace detective

There is nothing like a relatively obscure record to bring out the detective in me. This record, for example, on the wonderfully named Cu-Wu label, recently caused me to don an imaginary deerstalker, a la Sherlock Holmes, to see what I could unearth.

I did an initial bit of googling last year immediately after I bought the record and seem to have a distinct memory of finding a good article on Ace Jones fairly quickly. So a few weeks ago I decided to see what information I could compile on Mr Jones and the label Cu-Wu for this post.

Hmmm… absolutely nothing on Ace Jones apart from references to his record releases. (Of course Jones is a common name and I’m not about to go trawling through all of the numerous search hits). Where did that article go I found last time I looked? Maybe I dreamt it – I do very occasionally dream complete articles or songs.

How about the label Cu-Wu? I’ve been able to track down references to six releases on the label: Deep Heat (CW101), Ace Jones (J102 in two forms*), Five Ounces Of Soul (J103), Ace Jones (1001), and Ace Jones & The Instant Souls (AR 1206). *The J102 release has appeared in two forms – the copy I have has “I Can’t Quit You” on the A side and “Somebody Going To Tell” on the B, but in another form “Somebody” is the A with “Jotie, The Gal” on the B. All five of these releases credit Ace Jones in one form or another, and label scans I’ve seen of the other releases all show “Detroit, Mich.”
What about a release date? Well, Cu-Wu CW101 is by the group(?) called Deep Heat, and on one side is a version of the Steely Dan tune “Do It Again”. That song was on the Dan’s first album “Can’t Buy A Thrill” which came out in 1972. No earlier than 1972, then. But there is also another Deep Heat release on the Excello label dating to 1976. Interestingly both these Deep Heat releases credit “Sculp Music” which is also mentioned on this Ace Jones record AND Cu-Wu Productions and CW Jones (i.e Ace) are also credited on both records.  The Excello release definitely sounds more mid ‘70s and later than the Cu-Wu releases so that could date the Cu-Wu’s anywhere from late 1972 to 1976.

Hmmm… CW - Cu-Wu – could Cu-Wu be derived from Mr Jones’ given names. Cu – Cubby? Cuthbert? Wu – Wu…. don’t know! Putting Cubby Jones and Cuthbert Jones into Google yields nothing relevant.   
How about the producer Famous Coachman?  That turns out to be an easy google, and fascinating. Coachman ran a Detroit record shop, in one form or another, from 1954, and, starting in 1976, for 21 years on WDET-FM 101.9 Coachman hosted America’s longest continuously running blues radio show. Look here, and here.

Still trying various “Ace Jones” related searches – to no avail.

What about the dead wax then? Now that’s interesting – a scratched in “GM East Det” and “Milan” can both be found.

“GM East Det” translates to Guido Marasco’s GM recording studio that was located on Nine Mile Road, East Detroit. I’ve mentioned this studio before, it was located above a car repair business that undoubtedly spawned the label Bump Shop. One of my “wow” tunes Dee Edwards’ “Why Can’t There Be Love” was recorded at GM and appeared on both the GM and Bump Shop labels. At this point I can also link back to my recent post on Creative Source because their first album was also recorded there.

“Milan” must be Milan Bogdan who was an engineer at GM for some years. This article states that Milan decamped to The Sound Pit in Atlanta with The Counts. I have the The Counts first Atlanta based album – “Love Sign” on Aware – and that was released in 1973 so that means in if Milan engineered Ace Jone’s Cu-Wu outing then he must have done so either early in ’73 or before so we’re homing in a date for this record now: either ‘72 or ’73.    

Both side of this 45 have a distinctly blues feel to them, why haven't I thought of this before? - how about I put “C.W. Jones blues musician” into Google?

Bingo! On the first page I get a link to a whole article on Ace. You can read it here, and there is a picture of him too. The article is scant on detail of his time in Detroit and understates his recording career there a little, but it’s a good read and tells his life story pretty well it seems. It states that he now runs a little radio station out of Gallion, Alabama which coincidentally is on 101.9 FM just like the Famous Coachman’s show used to be. Coincidence or design, I wonder?

This gets better! I’ve just put “Ace Jones blues” into Google and got this YouTube link. Put up on YouTube only one week ago it’s a 70+ Ace Jones performing!!                   

My detective work is done.

Ace Jones – Somebody Going To Tell  1973?


ana-b said...

That's a really nice record. One of those times where the murky sound adds a touch of mysteriousness.


whiteray said...

Great tale of digging. I love it when it all becomes clear. Nice job! (And good tune, too!)