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CD REVIEW: Ace Diamond - Blockbuster Hits

By: Cyrus Rhodes

 

"a barnburner"

 

"masterful songwriting"

- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST -

 

 

 

 

 

**********

 

Artist: Ace Diamond
Album: Blockbuster Hits & Originals
Label: Independent Artist
Website:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/acediamond13

Genre: Americiana, Rockabilly, R&B, Old time Rock & Roll
Sounds Like: Huey Lewis & the News, Lyle Lovitt, Bare Naked Ladies, Elvis Costello
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Break it Easy, Songwriter Don’t Give Up, I've got the Gasoline Blues
Weakness: Dated Sound, Marketability

CD REVIEW:

Maine’s own Ace Diamond A/K/A Richard Gowell just released his fourth CD entitled Blockbuster Hits in April 2011. This latest release is a compilation of sorts that combines Ace’s best work with some classic hits from the past. Ace Diamond is no stranger to the music business. In fact his musical career spans of over 30 years, with 4 records & a slew of published songs to his credit. An interesting side note about Ace’s brother Larry: he actually pitched for the New York Yankees (1972). Because of this many of Ace’s past works are centered around the sport of Baseball. This latest release comes fully loaded with 20 songs. Influences include the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, & Delbert McLinton
 

The CD kicks things off with the Janis Joplin classic “Me & Bobby McGhee” an upbeat intro piece that serves up classic Americana groove, slamming saloon style piano & driving rhythm from Diamond & co. Track 2 “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals shifts gears with its smooth flowing rhythm, impressive solo guitar accents, & impressive heart felt vocals from Diamond. Track 3 dishes out the 50s’classic “Kansas City” a rocking melody with impressive piano, saxophone, & impressive harmonies that peak & valleys through to emotional fruition. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of such classic acts like Lyle Lovitt, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, & Delbert McLinton. The music itself is an impressive blend of classic cover songs with Americana & R&B roots combined with an unmistakable guitar driven rockabilly vibe. I get the impression Diamond & co. are just having a lot of fun just letting it all hang out with these songs. He’s definitely one of those guys that’s a whole lot of fun to listen to. The musicianship from Diamond is equally as impressive. I might add his vocal abilities hold their own pretty good with an impressive vibrato & passionate baritone delivery. You will notice lush layers of instrumentation layered everywhere, from impressive solo guitar licks, amazing harmonies, piano, horn sections, strings, & saxophone. But the most impressive thing about this release besides the amazing 22 song line up is the feel good groove & musical personality from Ace Diamond himself. The CD & music is very likable & carefree – very much  like the artist himself. What’s even more impressive is the songwriting ability from Diamond. From heartfelt “Georgia” to rocking “Working Overtime” to Bluesy “I’ve got the Gasoline Blues”, “Dagger through my Heart” & Undercover Lover” this CD has something for just about everyone. Of all the cover songs these pieces are my favorite “Break it Easy, Gasoline Blues” “Songwriter Don’t Give it up” The CD ends with “Quench me with Your Love” the perfect finale statement. a bit dated.

 

Perhaps Ace needs to modernize his sound just a tad. I would wager some of these cuts were recorded quite some time ago - thus giving off a dated sound. Also at times the CD gives off a cheesy Keroeke type vibe. I also noticed no additional information in the liner notes were written about some of the amazing musicians involved in this project. Some of the aforementioned issues do effect the productions overall marketability. 

 

From start to finish Blockbuster Hits& Originals by Ace Diamond is a barnburner of a release It has everything - from classic cover songs to many of Ace’s own gems. The music is consistent, uplifting, & extremely fun & entertaining. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece of music on this entire CD. The writing & playing abilities of Ace & his band are rock solid. Last but not least Ace Diamond is a masterful songwriter. He’s one artist that’s not afraid to just let it all hang out musically. He’s infectious - & his Blockbuster Hits will suck you in like a fast ball.

 

Cyrus Rhodes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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