78: “Lost” b/w “One-Armed Love” by Ace Ball. Okeh 18047. Recorded 02/08/54.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Not much could be found on Ace Ball’s early life. He was born Arthur Balch in 1920 in New Home, Texas. By 1948, he was playing guitar and recording with Hank Harral and His Palomino Cowhands. Here they are with the country artist checklist “Dream Band Boogie.”

Not bad. But by the early 1950’s, Ace was ready to strike out on his own. In 1953, he made four recordings for Okeh, none of which could be found online. The session in 1954 also produced four songs, and, fortunately, three of them could be found. Here’s “Lost.”

This sounds like an attempt at a Tex-Mex feel, especially with those claves awkwardly clicking in the background. I’d love to know who is playing those, because he’s horribly out of rhythm. The fact that the rest of the band isn’t thrown off is a testament to their own steady sense of time.

B side “One-Armed Love” is a less traditional love song. It’s not necessarily about what you think it’s about, depending on how dirty your mind is. See what you think.

Apparently, Ace thought it was better to give than to receive. Good for him.

“She’s Worth A Million To Me” is from the same session and would be released later that year. Here Ace expresses his love for his sweetheart in spite of the rumors flying about her behavior. Maybe he felt responsible, since those rumors probably started after what they were doing in the backseat during “One-Armed Love.”

Ace Ball put recording aside for a time and became a disk jockey on KDAV (Lubbock, Texas), then on KERB (Kermit, Texas) in 1956 and finally on KHEM (Big Spring, Texas) in 1959. It was in 1959 that he returned to the studio, this time for Caprock. Here’s Ace doing one for the kids, with “High School Wedding Ring.”

Ace Ball would continue to record sporadically over the years—including on his own Ace-Hi label in 1968— but his primary occupation continued to be that of disc jockey. He continued to perform around his adopted home of Pueblo, Colorado, where family obligations had lead him in the late 1970‘s. Ace died in 2004 from a fatal head injury after falling down a flight of stairs, just after having performed at a local senior center. Not many musicians get to live long lives and perform right up to the end; commercial success may have eluded him, but I see no reason for Ace to have had any regrets.


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