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Black Halloween – Bo Diddley Is A Zombie!

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

It’s that time of year again when the ghosts, ghoulies, skeletons and zombies have finished their laundry and ready themselves for the annual celebration that is Halloween. Arriving just in time for the ghoulish festivities is a new compilation to shakedown those dancing limbs from Koko Mojo. With a track list providing a new slant on this rockin’ theme with black artists from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll. One aspect worth celebrating here, apart from the exciting music on offer, is the focus on less obvious tracks to celebrate this time of year. With no time for the obligatory Screamin’ Jay Hawkins ‘I Put A Spell On You’, what the listener receives instead is the same artist but with equally compelling ‘Frenzy’, complete with cartoon vocal expressions setting up this compilation for more great expectations. ‘Black Halloween: Bo Didley Is A Zombie’ certainly delivers with more measured, yet equally thrilling performances by the likes of Lord Luther and ‘(I Was A) Teenage Creature, The Hollywood Flames’ ‘Frankenstein’s Den’, and wonderfully bluesy-trippy version of ‘The Shadow Knows’ from The Coasters. With Johnny Fuller assuming a plucky stance in relation to ‘Haunted House’, to soulful numbers from Ike Turner, The Cadillacs and The Naturals, not to mention more predictable entry from Bo Diddley (‘Who Do You Love?’) who manages to bag the front cover despite appearances looking a tad unhealthy. Of course, no rockin’ Halloween album is complete without its eccentricities and this arrives upon its conclusion with intriguing Philly Joe Jones’ ‘Blues For Dracula’. Clearly, it’s not only the living who are rockin’ because there’s enough evidence to suggest the dead are enjoying the dance via ‘Black Halloween: Bo Didley Is A Zombie’.


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Motorvatin’: 28 Songs From The Green Book Era

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Arriving straight on the heels of volume one is the second compilation album, ‘Motorvatin’: 28 Songs From The Green Book Era’. Being compiled once more by Little Victor Mac, volume two follows in the same footsteps with songs about cars and relationships set to a rockin’ backdrop. It’s a wild collection with the familiar names of Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Didley and Jackie Brenston making appearances, but there’s something a little different with more of an “edge” to some of the songs where the horrors of driving are relayed in pileups, traffic jams and additional highways than the usual Route 66. In fact, it’s all here as volume two provides a few leftfield moments, offering fascinating insights of motoring during this particular era with, for example, such futuristic slants as ‘Your Car Machine’ (Guitar Tommy Moore) or tales retold of ‘Drunk Driver’s Coming’ by Richard Bros. Add the emotionally charged ‘Car Crash’ (The Cadets) and mischievous ‘Radar’ (Mr. Bear and his Bearcats) to the list, and it’s safe to suggest that such themes and imaginative performances are sadly a thing of the past. No matter as ‘Motorvatin’: 28 Songs From The Green Book Era’ will help to relive those former “golden” glories.


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Motorvatin’: 28 Songs From The Green Book Era

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Compiling numerous artists from the golden age of American music, with a hefty slice of rhythm and blues, comes ‘Motorvatin’: 28 Songs From The Green Book Era’. With The Mojo Man (aka Little Victor Mac) overseeing the track selection and dedicating the first instalment to Victor Hugo Green, who was responsible for producing The Green Book, which served as a travel guide to African Americans during an era of racial segregation in the United States. With America in the 50s enjoying a burgeoning car industry, not to mention a developing music scene that was equally as exciting and wild as the designs of the cars, ‘Motorvatin’: 28 Songs From The Green Book Era’ provides a history lesson and reminder of this period. It doesn’t take any real searching to discover a whole host of established names and tracks with the likes of Chuck Berry (‘Maybellene’), Jackie Brenston (‘Rocket “88”’), Lightnin’ Hopkins (‘Big Black Cadillac’), Bo Didley (‘Cadillac’) and Smiley Lewis (‘Too Many Drivers’). The inclusion of The Medallions charismatic delivery of ’59 Volvo’ is a worthy companion for any journey, with a return trip booked consisting of Wynonie Harris’s absorbing commentary during ‘Fishtail Blues’, followed by neat and tidy rhythm of Oscar McLollie’s ‘Roll Hot Rod Roll’. It’s a blast from start to finish with tales of new and exciting car designs, intertwined with tales of relationships set to an enthralling combination of rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Off to a great start, ‘Motorvatin’: 28 Songs From The Green Book Era’ is a worthy addition to anyone’s music collection.


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Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.3

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Coming back for round three is ‘Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.3’. With a whole host of names ranging from Willie Dixon to Bo Diddley, you can expect to hear some familiarity with this current volume in this excellent series. There are, however, some artists making appearances that may be less known, with the intriguing moniker Smokey Smothers and superb raw blues ‘I’ve Been Drinking Muddy Water’ that suggests great hardships of the time. Elsewhere, Little Johnny Jones’ ‘Hoy Hoy’ contains a finger clicking rhythm that is a balance of rough and smooth edges and a vocal that sounds effortless such is its alluring power. Dusting down the blues further, and living up to his namesake, is Dusty Brown, who provides a compelling turn with near primitive ‘Hurry Home’ complete with harmonica. Simplicity is given a push during The Earthworms’ (Little Milton and Oliver Sain) ‘Fishtail’ that is fuller sounding and offers an instrumental track. By providing a good balance between the previously mentioned established artists with quieter profiles, ‘Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.3’ continues where its preceding volumes left off, by offering more quality blues tracks.


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I’m A Woman: Underestimation Is A Bad Mistake

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Feel free to arrive at your own conclusion, but much truth can be gleaned from latest compilation in the Koko Mojo rhythm and blues series where the female voice gets a chance to shine and offer a reminder to those who thought it was all about the boys showing the rest of us how to rock. Think again as ‘I’m A Woman: Underestimation Is A Bad Mistake’ provides enough clues by its title alone, but it is the music that speaks volumes. There are songs reflecting on love with Donna Hightower coming up with the sassy rhythm and blues ‘He’s My Baby’, followed appropriately with high-spirited numbers ‘I Feel Like A Million’ (Mamie Bradley) and ‘My Man’ (Dolly Cooper). Jealousy runs its course, as do feelings of loss and regret with compelling examples provided by Varetta Dillard, Irma Thomas and Little Mary. Highlight of the album, however, is reserved for the earth tremor of ‘Fast Life’ with Bonnie ‘Bombshell’ Lee’s vocals shaking the very foundations of this compilation. With a fine wit, and showing great respect in the liner notes by Little Victor, ‘I’m A Woman: Underestimation Is A Bad Mistake’ is an album all rockin’ fans should own as it serves not only as a perfect example of genuine talent at work, but also serves as an important reminder that female artists of the 50s were on a par with their male counterparts, despite less coverage. Underestimation is indeed a bad mistake to make.


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When You Find Love You’re Feelin’ Good

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Setting up for a theme focusing on love is the latest compilation from Koko Mojo Records, ‘When You Find Love You’re Feelin’ Good’. Filled with a whopping twenty-eight tracks and featuring some well-known names as The Cadillacs, Little Junior Parker, Clyde McPhatter and Howlin’ Wolf. Considering the established stars here, the music is of a consistent quality of mainly rhythm and blues and doo-wop. If you’re searching for such reassurance, then Little Junior Parker’s toss of a coin ‘Feelin’ Good’ and ‘Feelin’ Bad’, more or less bookending each side of this compilation, is up there with the best of them; a delicious combination of running word commentary and vocals to melt the coldest of hearts, not to mention the pinpoint blues sound that gives a simplistic impression in terms of its delivery yet is far from any such notion. Tracks of the album with no hesitation. Of course, the abundance of music on offer provides more than enough runners to shade second place including The Jive Five’s energetic ‘Do You Hear Wedding Bells’, rockn’ blues of J.B. Lenoir’s ‘I Have Married’, fine rhythm and blues of ‘Crazy Bells’ courtesy of Julie Stevens and the Premiers, and topped off with compelling and altogether different approach of ‘Wedding Boogie’ via the Johnny Otis Congregation. Just don’t expect the positive feelings to last however, as the downturn in emotions tumbles sharply but the quality remains on high when you’ve got Roy Hamilton’s golden vocals on your side!


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With This Ring

Various Artists

Atomicat

A romantic theme (and the fallout for some) sets up the collection of songs ‘With This Ring’. With songs focusing on the fascinating topics of love and relationships, where better to start than a positive beginning than Sam Butera and popcorn induced ‘Love Charm’. From there on, the tracks provide doses of rock ‘n’ roll with great examples coming from The Super-Phonics light rockin’ ‘Teenage Partner’, to thoroughly engaging Darrell Glenn and ‘Congratulations To Me’, and later on one half of the Burnette brothers, in this instance Dorsey, with ‘Let’s Fall In Love’. The song title alone of Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps entry is enough to claim this compilation but that would be a disservice to the rest of the contents where great country turns from Hank Snow (‘Honeymoon On A Rocketship’) and Dave Rich (‘Tuggin’ On My Heart Strings’) show up. There’s even the inclusion of female performers such as Bunny Paul and the snappy rock ‘n’ roll/early pop of ‘Baby Sitters Blues’. With the final word of this compilation reserved for Patsy Cline’s ‘A Church, A Courtroom, Then Goodbye’, there’s much to ponder which, for most of its contents, it’s all positive as far as the music is concerned.


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Sputnik Dance: Wild Sounds From Outer Space

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Hailing the Sputnik Dance is the newest compiled album of blues and rhythm and blues from Koko Mojo. With twenty-eight tracks transmitting from outer space and back down to planet Earth via a vintage setup that predates any modern-day era technology (thankfully!), the nature of the tracks is naturally space themed. With fascinating storytelling and humour found in the lyrics, not to mention exhilarating rhythms, ‘Sputnik Dance: Wild Sounds From Outer Space’ is a joyous ride. For those looking for an instant fix, look no further than the wild blast ‘Gonna Get Me A Satellite’ (Little Ernest Tucker). The title track is a compelling groove of traditional rhythm and blues supplied by The Equadors and followed by the smooth as silk ‘Rocket Ship’ from Vernon Green. Balancing such tracks with a few rougher edges is the blues stomp ‘Into orbit’ by Johnny Acey, and then continued by a rockin’ ‘Satellite Fever’ via Paul Perryman. By adding to the mix oddball moments as ‘Marty On Planet Mars Pt.1’ (Marty), and Buchanan and Goodman’s ‘The Flying Saucer Pt.1’ draws on the 50’s preoccupation with UFOs and space travel, in addition to providing examples of the colourful imagination of this time. Full of brass is the excellent ‘Destination 2165’ from The Cues, proceeded by, and showing great variation with super skilful delivery, ‘Weightless Blues’ with Jimmie Haskel creating a piece of magic. ‘Sputnik Dance’, the album, is a treasure-trove of musical delights where variation is key, not to mention quality of artists chosen for this compilation.


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Satan’s Holiday: The Devil’s Jukebox

Various Artists

Atomicat

Even baddies get the blues. Latest compilation from the stable that is Atomicat is ‘Satan’s Holiday: The Devil’s Jukebox’. With the meanest dude of them all spinning a playlist of rockin’ delights, you can expect to hear a few of the usual suspects and lesser known artists committing their wares to wax. There are many welcome choices made with Gene Vincent’s ‘Race With The Devil’ or Al Jones ‘Mad, Mad World’. The less obvious choices prove inspired decisions as well, with The Zanies ‘Mad Scientist’ revealing influences of rhythm and blues and horror movies straight from the 50s. Other instances reveal more serious turns such as the frantic rock ‘n’ roll of Myron Lee, in addition to The Caddies ‘Homicide’. Raising it a few notches higher on the wild scale is rhythm and blues rocker ‘Wail Baby Wail’ by Tommy Louis with Marshall and the Versatiles. The definition of scintillating rock ‘n’ roll continues via The Rhythm Rockets and ‘My Shadow’, and then throws up a well-known artist, Chuck Berry, but with less obvious track ‘Downbound Train’, which makes for an interesting diversion. There’s room to breathe via Ella Mae Morse and the big band accompaniment that is ‘Rip Van Winkle’, whereas “Scat Man” Crothers excellent take on ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’ adds variation. This is one jukebox that will keep minds and hearts warm during the winter months with its diverse range of artists and piping hot tracks.


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New Spark Boogie / Free Ballin (Single)

The Ragtime Wranglers

Homebrew Records

With current single ‘Lover Please / Beau From Tupelo’ featuring Miss Mary Ann on vocals and The Ragtime Wranglers supplying the rhythm sections, special mention also goes to previous single ‘New Spark Boogie / Free Ballin’. Restricted to a mere 300 copies, it’s the turn of the three instrumentalists namely Joe (guitar/steel-guitar), Sietse (drums/percussion) and Huey (upright bass) to work their magic via two rockin’ tracks. Beginning with ‘New Spark Boogie’, The Ragtime Wranglers gradually work up a sweat with this rockin’ instrumental that gives an edge of unpredictability in terms of its direction, which excites the senses as does the rest of its rhythm that draws on rock ‘n’ roll and elements of country and western leading to a considerably cool and compelling track. The flipside, ‘Free Ballin’, follows in similar vein to its predecessor only the country and western influences are far more prominent and the rock ‘n’ roll is of a more dangerous nature with the guitars giving off an air of arrogance that lives up to its title and makes for a thoroughly compelling listen. It’s not often that instrumentals on their own cause much of a stir, but when it comes to The Ragtime Wranglers and this double-sided single, they wake up the neighbourhood with good reason because this is rock ‘n’ roll worth getting excited about.


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Lover Please / Beau From Tupelo (Single)

Miss Mary Ann & the Ragtime Wranglers

Homebrew Records

Arriving fresh in the mail only recently comes the new single from Netherlands’ rockabilly outfit Miss Mary Ann & the Ragtime Wranglers. With this brand new single being a strictly limited edition (500 copies) pressed on 45” vinyl with a pastel green finish and launched in conjunction with the band’s appearance at this year’s Rockabilly Rave, the double header featuring ‘Lover Please’ and ‘Beau From Tupelo’ are timely reminders of the capabilities of this rockin’ four piece. With ‘Beau From Tupelo’ selected as the first choice for consideration here, and purely out of curiosity for its given title, the decision pays off immediately. From its bright, snappy opening that remains intact throughout where the upright bass makes its presence known with a solid beat and the lead guitar weaves a spell through the eye of a needle such is its precision, it’s a song of wonder from start to finish that can best be described as a “stroller” with a beating heart such is its admiration for the ‘beau’ in question. The flipside (or main offering) ‘Lover Please’ is an altogether different beast and shows the inventiveness of this band where standing still is not an option. Such is the experience of Miss Mary Ann & the Ragtime Wranglers that merely churning out another similar sounding number is all too easy that’s why ‘Lover Please’ inspires the mind with it’s clever infusion of Cajun spices crossed with rock ‘n’ roll yet never straying from a midtempo rhythm that cleverly enhances the expressed sigh of its lyrical content of unrequited love. Truly a top-class double effort that is deserved of its ‘special’ release status and limited run.


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Fighting Fire With Gasoline

The Kokomo Kings

Rhythm Bomb

Fighting fire with fire, or in this instance gasoline, is all in a day’s work if you’re The Kokomo Kings. Made up of a contingent of Swedish and Danish musicians, The Kokomo Kings has been delivering its raw authentic blues sound for a few years now. Having established a healthy fanbase throughout Europe after several years performing at numerous bars and clubs on the rockin’ circuit, The Kokomo Kings make a fresh return with album number three ‘Fighting Fire With Gasoline’. With the band now consisting of members Ronni Busack-Boysen (guitar/maracas), Daniel Winerö (drums), Martin Abrahamsson (vocals/guitar) and Magnus Lanshammar (bass/guitar), having seen the departure of founding member Harmonica Sam, The Kokomo Kings has certainly not discarded its winning formula of raw energised blues. With all songs written by Magnus Lanshammar who has a way with words with interesting alternatives to the male – female dynamics of relationships by providing considerable thought via the likes of ‘Tied To The Tracks’ where the male central figure is at the mercy of his beloved sweetheart, or simply out of luck during ‘The Fish Won’t Bite’ and ‘The Rich Man’s Pocket’. The song writing also knows when to have fun such as ‘A Big Pile of Fish’, which bathes in a shimmering blues boogie and something The Rolling Stones would be proud to claim as their own composition such are the similarities. But with the album kicking off on a more familiar raw and rockin’ blues note – ‘The More I Get, The More I Want’ – that states its intentions judging by the forcefulness of its rhythm, The Kokomo Kings weave a heady spell here that continues in similar vein via ‘Tornadohead’ and ‘I Thought I Was A Patient Man’. In fact, it’s this last track referenced here that gives way to the pensive nature of the majority of the lyrics that is worrying about its present as well as its future, and this is something that sets The Kokomo Kings apart from its rivals by some considerable distance.



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