ROBIN GEORGE – Ace In My Hand (Previously Unreleased) [Cherry Red Records 2CD remastered] (2023) *Exclusive*
Cherry Red Records and their Rock division Hear No Evil just released “Ace In My Hand“, a 2xCD pack of previously unreleased recordings from talented British musician ROBIN GEORGE. Born in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, Robin has collaborated with several artists during his career including Phil Lynott, Glenn Hughes, David Byron, Robert Plant and John Wetton.
All over ”Ace In My Hand” – 24 tracks fully remastered – Robin George sings and plays his trademark guitar on these melodic rocking songs recorded during down time in Worcester’s Old Smithy studio between 1979 and 1981. ”Ace In My Hand” therefore becomes the debut that never was, and now 2023 gets finally released.
Robin is aided by various musical luminaries, including Dave Holland (Trapeze, Judas Priest) and Charlie Morgan (Elton John) on drums, Pino Palladino (The Who) and Pete Wright (Trapeze) on bass, Daniel Boone, Mark Stanway (Magnum) and Terry Rowley (Trapeze) on keyboards, with Mel Collins (King Crimson, Bad Company) on sax.
“Ace In My Hand’ is not a nostalgia trip. It’s a lesson in music for everyone.” said well-respected music journalist Malcolm Dome.
Over the years, Robin George has collaborated with many musical legends, from Thin Lizzy’s Philip Lynott, Uriah Heep’s David Byron, UFO’s Pete Way, and The Quireboys’ Spike to Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes. As a native of Wolverhampton, it’s no surprise that a musician of his calibre would cross paths with local heroes Trapeze.
Collaborating with Trapeze’s Dave Holland on drums and vocalist Peter Goalby, a new look Trapeze was put on hold when Holland received an offer to join Judas Priest for a run of world-beating HM classics. Despite this, Robin had assembled a strong collection of material to draw upon for his solo debut ‘History’.
That album was followed by the hit single ‘Heartline’, a track that had a significant impact on both sides of the Atlantic, directly leading to Robin featuring on the cover of the important Kerrang! magazine, as well as being championed by highly influential rock DJs Tommy Vance and Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman.
It’s not overstating the musical point to say ”Ace In My Hand” (or selected tracks from it) should have been the early ’80s creative hard rock meets melodic pop debut from Robin George.
However fate, circumstance and a label (Arista) that perhaps wasn’t sure how to market such a distinct sounding, genre-crossing musician (Robin George found debut release success with Bronze Records a couple of years later) mean it’s only now the entirety of George’s earliest session recordings are seeing the light of musical day.
Containing 24 remastered songs recorded between 1979 and 1981, ”Ace In My Hand” definitively eclipses the selected tracks History compilation released by Angel Air back in 2014.
Robin George’s first official release was in 1983 with the 6 track History EP, featuring the defiant, heavy pop-sheened ‘Go Down Fighting’ (which features here in its better, early version).
That EP was followed in 1984 by debut album ‘Dangerous Music’, which included the melodically charged and still-vibrant single ‘Heartline,’ a song that encapsulated the “Robin George sound” of rock guitars and big drums dovetailing with melodic rock and harmony-laden hook choruses.
”Ace In My Hand” therefore becomes the debut that never was, one that features quite the cast list.
Among the dozen or so contributors are Dave Holland and George’s long-time drum compadre Charlie Morgan, saxophonist Mel Collins, Pino Palladino (who features on the aforementioned ‘Go Down Fighting’), Mark Stanway (pop singer Daniel ‘Beautiful Sunday’ Boone also plays keys) and backing vocals from the likes of Boone, Chris Thompson and Mo Birch.
It’s also interesting to note that the track running order is simply placed alphabetically. It’s a no particular order ploy that works very well, with each song having a little quirk, style change or nuance that separates it from the next – from the T-Rex/ Bolan-esque hook-rock of the title track and spacier, soul-vibed ‘Castles in the Sky’ (one of many tracks George would revisit / re-record for later albums) through to the slightly The Police-like ‘Too Late’, and the 80s melodic rock of ‘Tragedy’ (one of three co-writes with Daniel Boone).
The rock side of Robin George is well catered for via tracks such as big-beat number ‘Get On Your Knees And Pray,’ ‘She Really Blew My Mind’ and ‘Chance of a Lifetime’ (written with one-time Uriah Heep vocalist Pete Goalby, as was the lighter & radio friendly ‘Mona Lisa Smile’) while the reflective acoustic backed ‘Johnny,’ charming ballad ‘Losing You’ and the pop-soulful ‘Lying On My Telephone’ showcase that while Robin George has a sound, he has multiple styles.
There’s also the chance to hear and enjoy the original version of ‘Heartline,’ while other nuggets include ‘I Believed In You’ (a power-chord midtempo with choral chorus harmonies), the heavy electro-rock of ‘Machine,’ the bluesier ‘Run In The Dark’, and the glam rock ‘n’ roll fun of Streetwise.’
Had ”Ace In My Hand” been a full blown debut in 1981 or 1982 it may well have set Robin George on his way to becoming a force in ’80s British rock, as opposed to the nearly man with should-have-been-bigger band projects such as The Byron Band, Notorious (with ex Diamond Head vocalist Sean Harris) and supergroup Damage Control (Robin George, Spike, Pete Way, Chris Slade).
There’s also been a slew of near misses including being part of a potential Trapeze reunion around the time these sessions were recorded, chosen as the guitarist for a reformed Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott and Brian Downey (tragically never to be) and joining what would have been either a revamped Asia or new band project with John Wetton.
But through all such could-have-beens Robin George always carried an Ace in his solo artist hand.
And trust me, he still has a few more up his sleeve.
You’ve seen it first at 0dayrox
01 – Ace In My Hand
02 – Castles In The Sky
03 – Chance Of A Lifetime
04 – Everybody Loves A Winner
05 – Get On Your Knees And Pray
06 – Go Down Fighting
07 – Heartline
08 – Home Is Where The Heart Is
09 – I Believed In You
10 – Johnny
11 – Looks Better In Daylight
01 – Losing You
02 – Lying On My Telephone
03 – Machine
04 – Mona Lisa Smile
05 – Never Too Late
06 – Private Lives
07 – Run In The Dark
08 – She Plays Computer Games
09 – She Really Blew My Mind
10 – Streetwise
11 – This Time
12 – Too Late
13 – Tragedy
DRUMS: DAVE HOLLAND, STEVE BRAY, CHARLIE MORGAN
BASS: PINO PALLADINO, PETE WRIGHT
KEYS: DANIEL BOONE, MARK STANWAY, TERRY ROWLEY
B. VOX: CHRIS THOMPSON, MO BIRCH, DANIEL BOONE, PAT HANNON
SAX: MEL COLLINS
GUITARS, VOX & THE REST: ROBIN GEORGE
ALL SONGS WRITTEN & PRODUCED BY ROBIN GEORGE
CO-WRITTEN WITH FRIENDS;
with PETE GOALBY: CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, MONA LISA SMILE
with DANIEL BOONE: EVERYBODY LOVES A WINNER, STREETWISE, TRAGEDY
GUS DUDGEON CO-PRODUCED STREETWISE, I BELIEVED IN YOU, JOHNNY