Triple Played: Amazing Rhythm Aces worthy of binge listening
I have been listening to a lot of Amazing Rhythm Aces lately. I don’t know about you, but there are times when I will do some serious binge listening to a certain artist or group. Sometimes it is a newly discovered artist. More often, though, it usually is someone that I have been listening to for more than 25 years. In the case of the Aces it has been over 40 years.
It was 1975 when I first heard their first hit, “Third Rate Romance,” from the LP “Stacked Deck,” released that same year. Other great songs from that record are “the Ella B,” “Emma Jean,” “Hit the Nail On the Head,” and “King of the Cowboys,” and “Who Will the Next Fool Be?”
They were made up of Barry Burton, lead guitar, steel guitar, dobro and mandolin; Billy Earhart, piano and organ; Butch McDade, drums and percussion; James Hooker, piano; Jeff Davis, bass; and Russell Smith, rhythm guitar, harmonica, lead and background vocals and chief songwriter. With a unique blend of classic country seamlessly blended with soulful Memphis R&B, as well as very clever songwriting, they immediately caught my ear.
It all seemed to come together with their second LP, the 1975 classic “Too Stuffed To Jump” with its unforgettable cover. Ten great songs. No filler. Starting on side one with the still relevant “Typical American Boy” all the way through side two to the last track, “Dancing the Night Away.” In between is their biggest hit, “The End Is Not In Sight (The Cowboy Tune)”, which garnered the band a Grammy Award, along with “If I Just Knew What to Say,” “Same Ol’ Me,” “These Dreams Of Losing You,” “I’ll Be Gone,” and “Little Italy Rag.” “I’ll Be Gone” and “Out of the Snow” had to be written in the Colorado mountains. They are amazing songs that still resonate with me today on an LP, which became sought after by some collectors after it went out of print and before it was available on CD.
It was right around this same time that the Amazing Rhythm Aces began playing live shows in this area. I cannot say how many times they have played here, but they are at the top of my list as far as how many of their shows I have seen. I always felt that I got my money’s worth at their shows. The band truly loved what they were doing. They played with passion, and, vocally, Smith put everything he had into every song. They have also been playing long enough that I saw them as a teenager and was also able to take my son, Matthew, to their show at the Hilton when he was 10. In fact, promoter Ron Wilson just told me that they are still touring.
“Burning the Ballroom Down” from 1977 is an album made up of mostly torch songs. It contains some of my favorites by the band, including the title track and “A Jackass Gets His Oates,” “Out Of Control,” “Red to Blue,” “the Spirit Walk” and “Della’s Long Brown Hair.”
Three more LPs were released before the end of the 1970s: “Toucan Do It Too,” “Amazing Rhythm Aces” and “How the Hell Do You Spell Rhythm?” In my opinion all three of these are excellent records — not as good as the first three, but very listenable and enjoyable. Their next album of all new material, “Chock Full Of Country Goodness,” was released in 1999.