Ace of Hearts Records (US)

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Ace of Hearts Records
Founded1978 (1978)
FounderRick Harte
GenreNew wave, rock
Country of originU.S.
LocationBoston, Massachusetts

Ace of Hearts Records is a Boston-based independent label founded in 1978 by Rick Harte, who also produced all its releases. It recorded and released Boston area post-punk and garage rock bands in the early 1980s, including Mission of Burma, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Roger Miller, Neats, Lyres, The Real Kids, John Felice, Nervous Eaters, Del Fuegos, The Neighborhoods, Martin Paul, Wild Stares, Infliktors, Classic Ruins, Crab Daddy, Chaotic Past, Tomato Monkey, and Heat from a DeadStar.


Rick Harte started Ace of Hearts Records in 1978. Harte's specialty was well-produced, tightly played recordings, with great stereo separation and a walloping bottom end; Harte's covers, printed on expensive heavy stock, were strikingly attractive—everything was done with meticulous care. Ace of Hearts released singles by Boston bands such as the Neighborhoods, the Infliktors, Classic Ruins, and Mission of Burma. "Prettiest Girl" by the Neighborhoods sold ten thousand copies.[1]

Harte recorded late at night, when studio rates went down, until daylight. His method was painstaking, layering electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and feedback. Unaccustomed to the rigors of recording, band members occasionally stormed out of the studio. At one point a band trekked up to a studio on a Vermont mountainside and mixed the song "Max Ernst" for two stressful days, completing the mix only in the last of the twenty-eight hours of studio time they'd rented. To top it off, they wound up scrapping that mix and using one they'd done earlier.[1]

The Boston radio scene was then fairly open. Local bands got played on even the large commercial stations, mostly because many of the DJs had come from the area's numerous free-form college stations. In fact, the program director of Boston rock stalwart WBCN, Oedipus, had hosted what many consider the first all-punk radio show in the U.S. during his days at MIT's station. "Academy" won WBCN's juke Box Jury competition three weeks in a row, beating out bands like the Who and the Rolling Stones. As a result, the "Academy Fight Song"/"Max Ernst" single, released in June'80, sold out its 7,500-copy initial pressing in weeks, something very few independent punk singles had done before. Still, Conley was working for the Census Bureau, Prescott was moving cars around a Pontiac dealership, Miller was tuning pianos and busking on the Boston subway, and Swope, as he told Boston Rock in typically enigmatic fashion, found "money on the ground".[1]

Harte worked closely with his bands, choosing material, working out arrangements, doing extensive preproduction, and tweaking amplifiers. He was manager, mentor, and fan. In Boston, he delivered records to record stores.[1]

Ace of Hearts released terrific albums by the aforementioned bands and others, but it’s really the 25 tunes here that had the most impact. In particular, Mission of Burma’s “Academy Fight Song” backed with “Max Ernst” and the Lyres’ “I Want to Help You Ann” with “I Really Want You Right Now” had nationwide repercussions, fueling the post-punk era and the second coming of garage rock.
From the article Legendary Harte published in The Boston Phoenix

Rick Harte, owner and producer of Boston's Ace of Hearts Records was at the birth of some of the most memorable recordings emanating from Boston's punk heyday... What is rare about Ace of Hearts that I have never heard ill words about Rick Harte or his label from his artists or the local rock constabulary. In a scum-laden business like music where bands are used, abused and left on the roadside of success, it is high praise to Harte and his integrity. Harte's reputation as a producer was to let the band do what they wanted and to help them get the sound they wanted. If you listen to these restored tracks you will hear the dedication in the recording and the re-mastering of the old tapes to the digital format. The music world could use more people like Harte. Producers and labels that put the artists first and hope the money will come and allow them put out more great music.
From the article Ace of Hearts 12 Classic 45s published in Gullbuy

Rick Harte had started Ace of Hearts Records in 1978. He tooled around town in a spiffy little Volvo sports car, living beyond the means of his modest job at a hi-fi store. "Rick had money", explains Jim Coffman, who later managed Mission of Burma. "He didn't have to worry about a lot of things." Harte didn't have cutting-edge taste, but he could read people's reactions to bands very well. He was a familiar figure in the clubs and had the money, the talent, and the inclination to records bands. And on top of it, people just liked him. "He's just a really good guy," says Prescott. "I couldn't say a bad word about him if someone had a knife to my throat." Harte's specialty was well-produced, tightly played recordings, with great stereo separation and a walloping bottom end; Harte's covers, printed on expensive heavy stock, were strikingly attractive - everything was done with meticulous care. "No other bands at the time approached it like that," Harte says. "It was rehearsed and discussed and planned and then we'd go to the studio to the recording session and then another night to the overdubs and then only one mix a night, never any more. It was the way to achieve the ultimate result." "Rick Harte had a real aesthetic as far as the music, the packaging, the way the records were recorded - he was meticulous," says Gerard Cosloy, then a Boston area teen with a fanzine and a talent for talking his way into nightclubs. "Those records sound amazing, they look amazing. He set a standard that we're still trying to live up to today." (Gerard Cosloy, Matador Records)
From the book "Our Band Could Be Your Life : Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991" Michael Azerrad

USA TODAY - March 18, 2009
Famed Producer Rick Harte Returns With Heat From a DeadStar CD

Ace of Hearts Records announced today the release of "Seven Rays of the Sun," a new CD from Heat From a DeadStar [2]. Rick Harte, whose signature work with Mission of Burma, Lyres, and The Neighborhoods defined the iconic Boston Sound of the late '70s and early '80s, produced the effort. The Heat From a DeadStar (HFADS) sound has been likened to a broad range of precursors: from the psychedelic noise-rock of Butthole Surfers, to the wall of sound of My Bloody Valentine. Perhaps the most inescapable analogy is their Ace of Hearts label-mates Mission of Burma. Like Burma, HFADS weaves a dense, demanding and chaotic tapestry together with tuneful, compelling and at times almost poppy melodies. This stirring collaboration between the acclaimed post-punk producer and the London-based trio is exactly the sonic assault Harte fans anticipate, as flashes of inspired song craft punctuate "Seven Rays of the Sun." The haunting and lilting piano of Burma's Roger Miller slowly emerges from behind the closing curtain of sound in "Seahorse Seafish." The electronic drum sounds on "Elusive Ways" are deliberately low-tech, while the jangly, sour-sweet guitar rhythms of "Messy Kid" will remain on your mind. "Seven Rays of the Sun" showcases HFADS' deft ability to navigate and, ultimately, obliterate the confines of genre, forging a sound that is truly their own. It's also an achievement that cements Rick Harte's well-earned reputation as an unparalleled indie tastemaker.
From USA TODAY / AntiMusic


  • Infliktors Where'd You Get That Cigarette 1979 (45)
  • Classic Ruins 1+1<2 1980 (EP – 3 songs)
  • The Neighborhoods Prettiest Girl 1980 (45 Vinyl)
  • Mission of Burma Academy Fight Song 1980 (45)
  • Mission of Burma Signals, Calls, and Marches 1981 (EP – 6 songs)
  • Mission of Burma Trem Two 1981 (45)
  • Mission of Burma Vs. 1981 (LP)
  • Lyres AHS 1005 1981 (EP – 4 songs)
  • Lyres Help You Ann 1981 (45)
  • Neats The Monkey's Head in the Corner of the Room 1982 (EP – 7 songs)
  • Neats Caraboo 1983 (45)
  • Neats Neats 1983 (LP)
  • Birdsongs of the Mesozoic Birdsongs of the Mesozoic 1983 (EP – 5 songs)
  • Lyres On Fyre (New Rose) 1984 (LP+CD)
  • Birdsongs of the Mesozoic Magnetic Flip 1984 (LP)
  • Mission of Burma The Horrible Truth About Burma 1985 (LP)
  • Lyres Someone Who'll Treat You Right/She Pays The Rent/You've Been Wrong 1985 (12", 45)
  • Lyres Someone Who'll Treat You Right 1985 (45)
  • Birdsongs of the Mesozoic Beat of the Mesozoic 1985 (EP – 5 songs)
  • Nervous Eaters Hot Steel and Acid 1986 (CD – 9 songs)
  • Lyres Lyres Lyres (New Rose) 1986 (LP+CD)
  • Roger Miller No Man Is Hurting Me 1986 (LP)
  • Roger Miller Groping Hands 1986 (12", 45)
  • Roger Miller The Big Industry 1987 (LP, CD)
  • Mission of Burma Live at the Bradford 1988 (video)
  • Mission of Burma Mission of Burma (Ryko) 1988 (CD comp.)
  • Lyres A Promise is a Promise (New Rose) 1988 (LP+CD)
  • Lyres Box Set AHS 1005, On Fyre, A Promise Is a Promise (New Rose) 1988 (EP+LPs)
  • Lyres Here's a Heart w/Stiv 1988 (12", 45)
  • Birdsongs of the Mesozoic Sonic Geology (Ryko) 1988 (CD Comp.)
  • John Felice and the Lowdowns Nothing Pretty 1988 (LP)
  • John Felice and the Lowdowns Nothing Pretty (New Rose) 1988 (CD)
  • The Wild Stares The Wild Stares Land of Beauty 1992 (CD)
  • Tomato Monkey Mostly Torso 1992 (45)
  • Chaotic Past Distraught and Out of Control 1992 (45)
  • Chaotic Past Load 1993 (EP, CD)
  • Tomato Monkey Blowrod 1993 (CD Radio Sampler – 4 songs)
  • Tomato Monkey Blowrod 1993 (CD)
  • Tomato Monkey Chow Call 1994 (CD)
  • Chaotic Past Moodchanger 1994 (EP, CD)
  • Crab Daddy Ancient Baby 1994 (CD)
  • Various Artists The Wasted Years 1995 (CD)
  • Mission of Burma Signals, Calls, and Marches (Ryko) 1997 (CD – 6 songs)
  • Mission of Burma Vs. (Ryko) 1997 (CD)
  • Mission of Burma The Horrible Truth About Burma (Ryko) 1997 (CD)
  • Lyres AHS 1005 (Matador) 1998 (CD – 13 songs)
  • Lyres On Fyre (Matador) 1998 (CD – 14 songs)
  • Lyres Lyres Lyres (Matador) 1998 (CD – 13 songs)
  • Lyres A Promise is A Promise (Matador) 1998 (CD – 17 songs)
  • Chaotic Past Yer-in 1999 (CD)
  • Chaotic Past New Young Girl 2000 (45, CD single)
  • Martin Paul Crooked Country 2000 (EP, CD)
  • Mission of Burma A Gun to the Head (Ryko) 2004 (CD comp.)
  • Various Artists 12 Classic 45s 2006 (CD)
  • Mission of Burma Signals, Calls, and Marches (Matador) 2008 (CD+DVD – 10 songs)
  • Mission of Burma Vs. (Matador) 2008 (CD+DVD – 16 songs)
  • Mission of Burma The Horrible Truth About Burma (Matador) 2008 (CD+DVD – 14 songs)
  • Heat from a Deadstar CD 2 Songs including Messy Kid, Ad Astra 2009
  • Heat from a Deadstar Seven Rays of the Sun 2009 (CD – 13 songs)
  • Birdsongs of the Mesozoic Dawn of the Cycads (Cuneiform) 2009 (Double CD – 32 songs)
  • Neats 1981–1984 The Ace of Hearts Years 2009 (CD – 22 songs)
  • The Real Kids Shake…Outta Control (vinyl EP – 4 songs)
  • The Real Kids Shake…Outta Control CD (CD – 12 songs)
  • The Real Kids Shake…Outta Control (vinyl LP - 10 songs, Licensed to Ugly Pop, Canada)
  • The Real Kids 28:18:39 (vinyl LP - 8 songs)
  • Nervous Eaters Hot Steel and Acid (CD - 14 songs)
  • LYRES Lucky 7 (Box Set, 7-45s Licensed to Munster Records(Distrolux)/Spain)
  • William Hooker/Roger Miller/Lee Ronaldo Monsoon (pending)


  1. ^ a b c d Azerrad, Michael (2001). Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981–1991 (1 ed.). Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-0316063791.

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