Ace Lane : See you in Heaven
(Expulsion - 1983)
Category : criminally overlooked
There's not much I can say about this British band. Information about them is hard to find. The only thing I know is that they have released only one album on a local label.
Ace Lane was considered part of the NWOBHM-movement. To me that's odd, because they aren't a Metal band. To me they're an 80's melodic Rock band, closer to AOR than to Metal. But who cares. As long as the music's good.
When I put the record on the first thing I noticed was the FM-friendly nature of the songs. I expected to hear Metal, but instead I got accessible Rock songs that all were (without any exception) skilfully written. The production was on the thin side, but still decent enough to not hamper the listening experience. The only downside I see is that terrible artwork. Yet, in a way it made the album even more interesting, as it emphasized its obscure nature.
As part of the NWOBHM-movement Ace Lane was definitely on the lighter side of the spectrum. But that's also what set them apart from most other bands. They existed alongside bands that were often simply trying to outdo each other with fast playing and macho riffing, but who at the same time forgot to write real songs. Unfortunately, in a movement that for the most part catered to young rebellious males, there was little room for a band like Ace Lane. It even seems nobody really noticed them. The only consolation I can give them is that their sole release gradually became one of my favorite classic rock albums and that I will continue to cherish it for many years to come.
It's odd how the Internet connects you with people. Just weeks after having posted this short article someone called Darren Knight accidentaly stumbled upon it and contacted me. He knew Mick Clarke, one of the band members, and it resulted in Mick writing me why Ace Lane disappeared after having released this outstanding slab of vinyl. It's yet another story of a band getting screwed over by their record company. (A more complete history can be found on their Myspace page, link at the bottom of this page.)
Mick Clarke wrote:
Thanks for taking an interest in the Ace Lane album.
A short bio:
Where to start with Ace Lane? Well the band formed in 1982 when Stef Prokopczuk and I left the NWOBHM band Gaskin. We almost did a deal with Genesis's publishing company but couldn't get a band together quickly enough to showcase the demos we played them- disappointing to say at least. So we headed back to my home town -Barnsley in South Yorkshire- and I recruited Chris Morris, Paul Brook and Roy Whyke and formed the band. Ace Lane was a Barnsley band- not Hull; we only recorded in Hull. We rehearsed through the summer of '82, played some demos to Rondelet Records and got the budget for the album. We did several warm up gigs and all of them sold out, so we were fairly happy at the time.
What went wrong?
I didn't like the production of the album (not bright enough for me) but we were on a tight budget and it went out. Nevertheless Radio One airplay by Tommy Vance followed and the important British music magazine Kerrang did a good review, so we all expected the usual tour support and a budget for a second album. It never came.
Both Rondelet Records and Expulsion Records liquidated the respective companies and took off with all our sales and publishing money. Rights were sold to Roadrunner Records and Mausoleum USA Records and companies in Europe, Australia, Argentina and Japan, even China. But we got nothing and the band split in 1983.
It was a great shame shame that Ace Lane ended as it did. It was a fine live band and I feel that if the companies had had the foresight to invest in a second album it would have been a different story. But that's life.
How do you look back on the album now?
I am quite proud of the album. Most of the songs still stand up, and I may re-record a few, just to see what happens with publishing, etc...
What's with all the different sleeve art of the different releases?
The artwork was changed because the companies never had copyright to that, bad though it was!
What happened to the band members after the split?
Stef and I remained in contact until he died of a heart attack in February 2008. Gary Sleet played on the album as well. Chris Morris had other commitments and left in July 1982. I still see Chris. He is now a music teacher. I myself still do solo work in various venues in the North of England. Roy Whyke does his drumming in Leeds for anyone who pays him. I haven't seen Paul or Gary for years.
I am writing a new album and collaborating with Chris (original guitarist with the band). I have laid down a few progressions and I will be glad to send you a few snippets of the songs when we demo them. It will be with a thought for Stef, who worked hard and put a lot of effort into the band. Darren Knight will be doing keyboards by the way.
For more details, info about the 1994 CD re-release and contact info, visit Ace Lane's Myspace. There you can also hear what they sounded like (even though the mix of song snippets on the page doesn't really do the songs justice): http://www.myspace.com/acelane1983
Darren Knight's myspace: http://www.myspace.com/dazchez