The Amazing Rhythm Aces

Concert Classics, Vol. 3

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This 1979 performance has been floating around tape trading circles ever since it was first broadcast on KFML in Denver, CO. In fact, Concert Classics, Vol. 3 (1999) is a straight reissue of Between You & Us (1996). Regardless of which incarnation should avail itself, the documented performance is a fiery and rollicking ride -- perfectly demonstrating what made the Amazing Rhythm Aces among the finest and ironically -- if not somewhat criminally -- equally overlooked American one-hit wonders of the '70s. Even though they are on the road supporting Burning the Ballroom Down (1979) -- their fourth album in three years -- this live set includes only "I Pity the Mother and the Father" from that effort. The show also correlates with the recent departure of founding member Barry Burton prior to commencing the tour. His replacement, Duncan Cameron, is front and center and would continue with the Amazing Rhythm Aces throughout their various re-formations in the '80s and beyond. One of the band's most endearing qualities is the uncanny ability to parley their Memphis roots far beyond traditional blue-eyed soul. As guitarists Russell Smith and Duncan Cameron trade licks, at times they rival the rapport between their ABC Records label mates Jeff "Skunk" Baxter and Walter Becker from Steely Dan. The seemingly intuitive lead guitars on "Who's Crying Now" retain the same bite as the Dan's "Kid Charlemagne." Another dynamic duo in the lineup are keyboardists Billy Earheart III (organ) and James Hooker (piano/clavinet). The two are able to enhance each other, weaving melodies and punctuations most notable on the acoustic outings such as "Amazing Grace (Used to Be Her Favorite Song)" and "These Dreams of Loving You" -- which additionally exemplifies the Aces' broad scope of distinctly American music. Most of the tunes on this set are from the Stacked Deck and Too Stuffed to Jump albums. These discs are home to such fan favorites as the raucous blues shuffle "Hit the Nail on the Head" and the funky "Anything You Want" -- both of which are propelled by Earheart III and Hooker. The Aces also look forward to their next self-titled release -- which would boast a cover of Al Green's "Love and Happiness" -- perfectly tethering them back to their soul roots.

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