I don't remember Vince Taylor in the rockin' 50's and that`s not dementia kicking in, I can still recall several out of Larry Parnes' stable including the similarly named Vince Eager. No, the myth making industry has undoubtedly attached itself to the late Vince and his story has steadily grown in import and significance and all those big words over the last half century or so.
The legend tells us that the man returned to the UK from sunny California in the late 50`s, took one look at Tommy Steele and reckoned he could do better than that, which is not saying a lot. His first single consisting of one obscure Sun cover backed by another - Ray Smith's "Right behind you baby" (written though, by Charlie Rich) and Roy Orbison's "I like love" - rather proved his point. Certainly no one else was issuing rockabilly like this in the UK at that time, both the sound and the attitude seemed to be there even if the unintentional positioning as a lesser Sun artist would prove to be rather apt. It didn't see any chart action which may well be because of lack of promotion.
His next single, Johnny Ace`s "Pledging my love" coupled with a self penned minor key rocker, "Brand New Cadillac" also didn't chart though it was that flipside which very much started the legend. A fast, tough number with urgent guitar riffing and Vince in aggressive form, it's one of that tiny, near pathetic, handful of original rock'n'roll singles which emerged from the UK in this time frame and, as such, it ensured Vince would forever be remembered in British rock'n'roll history. The fact that this track was later covered by the Clash gave another boost to the legend of Vince Taylor. Unfortunately none of this helped much at the time. Parlophone dropped Vince and the Playboys and he next popped up on the tiny label, Palette with "I'll be your hero" / "Jet Black Machine". Both were decent rockers with "Machine" gaining most of the plaudits as a Gene Vincent styled rockabilly thumper.
Success continued to elude Vince until he moved to France in `61 apparently in full leather outfit with a medallion. - I'm a tad unclear re the originality of the latter combination, Gene Vincent regularly wore just such an outfit on stage - there's a comment in Britt Hagarty's biog of Gene in the Spring `60 time frame, "... by now Gene had adopted his black leather outfit on a more or less permanent basis" - even more telling, there are pictures of Eddie and Gene with the latter in his stage leather outfit complete with chain and medallion - and remember, Eddie died on 17 April, 1960.
Anyway, regardless of whether or not his outfit helped, Vince knocked them out in La France albeit without too much competition. Quite a number of records appeared under his name but regrettably there were few originals - the majority were rather obvious covers of rock classics - always a dangerous ploy due to the inevitable comparisons that are evoked. On the positive side, what his covers do have is a raw atmosphere akin to live recording with oodles of energy on display. By far the best is his and the band's, take on "My Baby Left me" with excellent and super busy bass and guitar. Unfortunately none of the other cuts get close to this and some, in particular, "Long Tall Sally" are a downright mess.
Due to the relatively small amount of really good music contained in this album, my review based on musical merit alone would be three stars. However for the fact that we have a more than significant chunk of British rock'n'roll history here - what Record Collector referred to as "All part of the rich tapestry" - I'm giving Ace and the legend an extra star. Heck we had so few real rock'n'rollers in the UK even one who was roughly equivalent to a lesser Sun artist - and I love some of those guys - was more than welcome.