Ace Kefford

Ace the Face

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You might think it quite unlikely that even the most enterprising reissue label could manage to come up with a whole album of Ace Kefford material, given that the ex-Move man released just one single under his own name. The most amazingly unlikely '60s rock relics were being discovered several decades after the fact, though, and it turns out that Kefford recorded an entire unreleased album in mid-1968, with Tony Visconti as producer. Nine tracks from that album form the backbone of this compilation, which also includes both sides of the 1969 single by the Ace Kefford Stand; a demo of the A-side of that single, a cover of the Yardbirds' "For Your Love"; three other previously unreleased 1968 outtakes; the A-side of a 1969 single by Big Bertha, in which Kefford played; both sides of the 1976 single by Kefford's subsequent band, Rockstar; and even the Lemon Tree's 1968 single "William Chalker's Time Machine," written by Kefford. There's no faulting the diligence of the archivism, but for all the fruitless effort invested in launching a post-Move solo career for Kefford, he really wasn't much of a singer or songwriter. It's true the unreleased album tracks were abandoned before they were finished, but they meander between unremarkable, just-about-passable stabs (usually self-penned) at pop/rock, folk-rock, country-rock, and hard rock with a generic late-'60s British feel. These are often done in a slightly heavier, more serious style than that associated with the late-'60s Move, sung in a husky but slightly croaky soul-rock voice. Subdued echoes of his well-documented fragile mental health hover in the uncertain, troubled tone of songs like "Holiday in Reality," "Trouble in the Air," "Step Out in the Night," and "White Mask." (Jimmy Page, incidentally, makes a little-known session appearance on the cover of Paul Simon's "Save the Life of My Child.") The Ace Kefford Stand material is more fully produced, but on the mundane early hard rock side, including covers of "Born to Be Wild" and "Daughter of the Sun" (the latter much better known via its more psychedelic treatment from Sharon Tandy). The Rockstar tracks, oddly, aren't too bad, and very much in an early-'70s David Bowie-influenced style, particularly "Mummy." What a shame that the best cut on here, the Lemon Tree's whirling (and quite Move-like) psych pop ditty "William Chalker's Time Machine," doesn't even have Kefford playing on it.

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