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Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.8

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Rather like a good novel that you do not want to end, the same feeling applies to the series ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers’ such has been the high level of quality of music throughout this series. With Volume eight being the latest and last in the series, the songs featured showcase various artists and songs developed to a far greater level than the raw primitive blues of before. Living up to the album’s additional title ‘That’ll Get It’, any listener can therefore expect a large slice of traditional rhythm and blues. Featuring no less than twenty-eight tracks, ‘Texas R&B Rockers Vol. 8’ certainly goes out on a high with such sophisticated numbers as those delivered by the likes of Calvin Boze and His All-Stars ‘Baby’ You’re Tops With Me’, sounding not too dissimilar to Dave Bartholomew, and equally similar Roy Gaines with ‘Loud Mouth Lucy’. There is a definite influence of jazz and big band music at various stages of the album, and indicated by such examples as ‘Mean Little Girl’ and ‘On My Way’ performed by Roy Hawkins, to the Jesse Powell Orchestra and song ‘Hot Box’. Not everything possesses a polished exterior as Smokey Hogg provides a finger pickin’ delight in the shape of ‘Baby Shake Your Leg’ and sounds like an improvised piece given its raw qualities. There’s a Chuck Berry composition ‘Come Back, Maybelline’ performed by Mercy Dee and is a response to Chuck’s hit song ‘Maybellene’. There’s more rock ‘n’ roll feeling by way of excellent ‘Skippy Is A Sissy’ from Roy Gaines, to Big Walter & His Thunderbirds with ‘Six Weeks Of Misery’. If there’s one series that could run and run, then it would be ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers’ because it has been a captivating ride of blues and rhythm and blues from its first volume until its last. Volume eight and ‘That’ll Get It’ completely captures the moment and provides a fitting end to this remarkable series.


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Elvis Stole My Job

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

For those who thought Elvis Presley came first when considering the genre of rock ‘n’ roll, then you would be mistaken. Fresh from the vaults of Koko Mojo is the album ‘Elvis Stole My Job’. The idea behind this latest collection of artists from blues and rhythm and blues backgrounds, is to highlight the important roles and influences these artists had when it came to the King of rock ‘n’ roll. Largely taking inspiration from musicians Elvis held much admiration and respect for such as Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Roy Brown, Lloyd Price and Clyde McPhatter by imitating their styles whether vocally or physically when it came to his live persona. At the helm of this new album is Little Victor (aka The Mojo Man) who compiled all tracks, in addition to writing the liner notes for ‘Elvis Stole My Job’. The selection of songs earmarks the greatness that came before Elvis with, leading the way, the formerly mentioned Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and ‘My Baby Left Me’, to rhythm and blues of Wynonie Harris ‘Good Rockin’ Tonight’. To Elvis’s credit and the writers involved in terms of his recorded output, it wasn’t simply a question of repeating identical versions because history shows that was never the case, but the King certainly added much to these former records, in addition to raising the profiles of these black musicians to wider audiences, especially those of white ethnicity. With this album being concerned with music and not politics, the choices selected are top level with, by now, more familiar names and tracks featured such as Smiley Lewis and ‘One Night’, The Orioles ‘Crying In The Chapel’, Jackie Wilson (‘Right Now’) and Otis Blackwell (‘Make Ready For Love’). What stands out, however, and mentioned by The Mojo Man, is the fact that several of these songs are less familiar when it comes to similar compilations. Therefore, ‘Elvis Stole My Job’ also includes artists with no direct connections to the King yet their resemblance to the artist is clear. With Elvis revealing influences ranging from rhythm and blues to doo wop and ballads such as those by key influence on his career, Roy Hamilton, featured here with the song ‘Don’t Let Go’, the music and inspirations fuelling Elvis Presley were definitely not blinkered choices. Great album and selection of artists where Elvis was guilty of stealing the limelight, but not without confessing his love and admiration that created a wider platform in terms of recognition of these former great artists.


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Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Drumming up ideas for new series is all in a day’s work when it comes to the folks at Koko Mojo Records. Fresh out of the stable is latest series ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’. Consisting of various artists from the 50s and early 60s, the attention to details is ever-present where music of the blues was transforming, and rhythm and blues really took hold and continued evolving to the point where the early stages of soul music were beginning to show. The compilation ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’ focuses on these musical developments with “soul” being the emphasis here, albeit in its early stages. Bringing together an interesting mix of major players within the genres of blues, rhythm and blues and early foundations of soul music you will find well-established artists and tracks. Such examples can be cited from the album’s initial stages with none other than John Lee Hooker’s utterly compelling ‘Boom Boom’, Little Eva with ‘The Loco-Motion’ and probably two of the clearest definitions of early soul music via J.J. Jackson (‘Oh My Liddy’) and Bobby Lewis (‘Tossin’ And Turnin’) where bright rays of sunlight were beginning to break through.  The golden tones of Sam Cooke during ‘I’ll Come Running Back To You’ cement such feelings, albeit at a much calmer pace and, likewise, the ubiquitous airplay of the song ‘Stand By Me’ from Ben E King. Packed therefore with established names from Marvin Gaye (‘Pride And Joy’), Jackie Wilson (‘Baby Workout’), Gino Parks (‘Don’t Say Goodbye’) and Etta James (‘Somethings Got A Hold On Me’), it’s testament to the irresistible charms of soul music where a lot of these tracks lie deep in the psyches of many people where, for example, The Mar-Keys instrumental ‘Last Night’ reminds of a certain BBC comedy and fond memories associated with this. That is the power and popularity of this genre of music because it will last for a lifetime.


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Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.5

Various Artists

Atomicat

Following on straight after volume four in the series ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive’ via Atomicat is ‘So Tired Of Crying’. Whereas the previous volume focused on more lively tempos in terms of its contents, album number five follows a similar route yet the mood is heavier in the sense that heartbreak is never far away. Take a listen from the lean and precise delivery of country ditty ‘I’m A Big Boy Now’ where Justin Tubb reveals a lesson learnt as far as relationships go. As far as the theme of this album goes, the heartbreak is not solely a preserve of relationships as the superb duet between Red Foley & Ernest Tubb with ‘Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Age’ needs no explaining, ditto the hardships of certain occupations such as ‘Pipeliner Blues’ albeit skilfully tied to relationship woes and compellingly played out via excellent fiddle and Moon Mullican’s piano playing. There is the female perspective on love with Charlotte Harden ‘Loving You Baby’ and near-boppin’ rhythm as it edges out of the 50s and into early 60s and links to both hillbilly and rockabilly. The pared back ‘Crazy ‘Bout You’ returns to the straight country line with its steel guitar playing a major role along with Hank Crow’s honest vocals making for a compelling song. With the likes of Bill Haley & His Comets popping up for the finale with ‘Rocket ‘88’’ and Anita Carter with quite unique take on ‘Freight Train Blues’ where breathing doesn’t appear to be an option, especially if you want to keep up with this truly excellent compilation known as ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.5 – So Tired Of Crying’.


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Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.4

Various Artists

Atomicat

The series that keeps on giving is ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive’ with another mouth-watering twenty-eight tracks to consume from a variety of country and hillbilly artists from a bygone age. With this compilation being the fourth in the series, ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive – Boogie Woogie Cowboy’ is something of a lively collection of western swing, hillbilly, and country tracks by many of its pioneers. So expect to hear the likes of established names such as Chet Atkins and His Colorado Mountain Boys and detailed guitar instrumental ‘Canned Heat’, to Hank Thompson’s sparky tempo of ‘Deep Elm’ where the brass section really dominates along with breaking lead guitar. From the rockin’ foundations of these numbers, the early foundations of rockabilly can be heard in Moon Mullican’s ‘What’s The Matter With The Mill’ and the lesser-known moniker (to these ears) of Eddie Cletro & His Round Up Boys ‘Flying Saucer Boogie’ also dropping hints of what was to come and no doubt a source of inspiration for Billy Lee Riley considering the occasional bouts of wild hollering and talk of the town fascination with outer space. The inclusion of the less obvious artists is just one of the reasons why this compilation series is worth investigating and investing your time because along with the “bigger” names the listener will become accustomed with “Texas” Bill Strength and ‘Paper Boy Boogie’, to longer title and less heard Jay-Bob Howdy with Hoyle Nix & His West Texas Cowboys’ ‘Real Rockin’ Daddy’. Add to that a “How to do it” cover version of ‘Little Susie’ supplied by Joe Melson, and the likes of Tex Williams, Merle Travis, Tibby Edwards and Jim Reeves also making appearances, then ‘Boogie Woogie Cowboy’ not only provides a quality package of music, but one that serves as a tangible link to the rockin’ sounds of what was to become rockabilly.


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Hank Williams Songbook Vol. 2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Continuing the songs of Hank Williams, in addition to songs associated with the hillbilly country legend and performed by various artists, is ‘The Hank Williams Songbook Vol. 2’. What the listener can expect, therefore, is a tribute album of sorts but one that provides evidence of songs which inspired Hank Williams as well as the numerous artists covering these songs providing their own interpretations. Beginning in style with ‘Move It On Over’, and always good for anyone’s money, Maddox Brothers & Rose provide their usual blend of charisma and precision. From there other big names duly arrive with George Jones popping by for two visits with the album’s title track and later bestowed the honour of another fine William’s classic with his version of ‘Settin’ The Woods On Fire’. Elsewhere, Porter Waggoner provides ‘Tennessee Border, and Lattie Moore really drives home the melancholy of Williams’ in both sound and song title despite being a third-party composition via ‘Sundown And Sorrow’. On a similar theme, Bill Darnell chips in with ‘Alone And Forsaken’; a Hank Williams’ original and one that leads to further investigation of the cover artist given the compelling rendition of this track. Interestingly, one or two names make appearances that are less familiar such as Gene O’ Quin (‘Blues Come Around’), Fred Thornton And The Sons Of The Golden West (‘There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight’) and Morris Mills with ‘Jumbalia Answer’.  With Ferlin Husky (‘Minni-Ha-Cha’) also included, and always a bonus on this side of the country/hillbilly fence, and Hank The Drifter providing perhaps the biggest tribute here with ‘Hank Your Gone’, ‘The Hank Williams Songbook Vol. 2’ is a must-have album for all Hank Williams’ aficionados.


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Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.3

Various Artists

Atomicat

Keeping the momentum going is the third volume in the series offering various strands of country music by way of ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.3’. Traditional country in its various forms can be heard throughout with many established artists such as Red Foley, Chet Atkins, Ella Mae Morse to Bill Haley & His Comets mingling with names less familiar and that’s just one of the great intrigues with this series. Therefore, the track lists selected so far have been inspiring, and Volume. 3 shows no signs of altering this trend. First-hand evidence of this can be experienced during the opening western swing instrumental from Spade Cooley & His Orchestra with ‘Oklahoma Stomp’. Despite this collection serving early country music, there are some artists operating within the genre of rockabilly. Therefore, there’s no better place to begin with than Earl Epps excellent ‘Be-Bop Blues’. The previously mentioned Bill Haley & His Comets also reveal an early foray on rockabilly with their ‘Green Tree Boogie’, and ditto Bill Phillips’ ‘There’s A Change In Me’ with its title alone suggesting the changing times. Returning to the main theme of this album, Dave Isbell’s ‘Satisfied Or Sorry’ is beautiful as it is heart-breaking, whereas Ramblin’ Jimmie Dolan offers a compelling chattering vocal style complete with rollicking piano and steel guitar during the hillbilly boogie that is ‘Juke Box Boogie’. Such tracks representing ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.3’ reveal a wild side that was in evidence before rock ‘n’ roll had chance to fully claim this title. This comes as no surprise when songs were given titles such as ‘My Mail Order Mama’ during this era of country music, showing that there really was a lot more going on than simply great music coming out of those distant country hills.

 


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It’s A Long Rocky Road – A Tribute To Johnny Horton

Various Artists

Atomicat

Offering a different slant on the “tribute” album is latest release from Atomicat Records and ‘It’s A Long Rocky Road – A Tribute To Johnny Horton’. Not only a compelling artist in his own right, and showing the reasons why with the first ten tracks of this compilation album performed by Johnny Horton himself, the rest of this album is given over to numerous artists paying their respects to Johnny Horton with their interpretations of songs performed by the artist or connections built through song writing credits or songs performed by Johnny Horton but written by other music performers. It all makes for an interesting listen and one spiced up further nearing its end with contemporary band The Ballroom Rockets providing their takes on ‘Broken Hearted Gypsy’ and ‘The Train With The Rumba Beat’. Due to Johnny Horton’s early demise, there’s several track titles making the connection with such candidates as ‘Doorway To Heaven’ (Billy Barton) and ‘Springtime In Heaven’ (Nick Williams with The Treece-Reece Trio). Other areas, you will find familiar names Johnny Cash chipping in with ‘I’d Still Be There’, Rose Maddox ‘Ole Slew Foot’ and Horton’s second wife, Billie Jean Horton, adding ‘Here Comes Trouble’. A worthy tribute to former musician Johnny Horton that provides a similar route when compiling his music to other compilations, yet one that also adds something different via numerous connections and ideas when deciding on an overall track list. Highly recommended.


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Popcorn Blues Party Vol.3

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Adding to the “Popcorn” series on Koko Mojo is latest album ‘Popcorn Blues Party Vol.3’. With all tracks compiled by the Mojo Man himself (aka Little Victor) and all being remastered, there’s much for the listener to take in as with the previous two volumes with a genre of music that first originated in Belgium. For those less acquainted, the Popcorn genre blends traditional rhythm and blues with pop songs of the 50s and 60s and performed in a slow to midtempo and often in a minor key. With such details in mind, Volume.3 begins with a fine, midtempo instrumental via Mighty Joe Young and track, ‘Voo Doo Dust’, and then working its way to other choice cuts such as the passionate ‘Homework’, given its expression via great vocals (Otis Rush) and combination of roaring  brass and splashes of Hammond organ, before succumbing to the realisation of ‘One Way Love Affair’ expertly told by prominent instrumentation throughout and the vocals of  Z. Z. Hill; the latter deliberately giving the impression of being secondary in this particular tale. The inclusion of Muddy Waters’ ‘I Won’t Go On’, Howlin’ Wolf ‘Who’s Been Talking’ and others such as Guitar Slim and thoroughly engaging ‘Well I Done Got Over It’ reveal a strong blues slant to this album release. More common with the “popcorn” genre is the midtempo blues and soul combined of ‘Screaming Please’ complete with smooth vocal from Buddy Ace. What stands out most is the attention to detail of the majority of these tracks, where the music speaks just as loudly as the lyrics when it comes to informing the listener of the downtrodden tales of love often found on ‘Popcorn Blues Party Vol.3’.


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Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.7

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

With expectations high and much to live up to after Volume.6 offered so many great highlights of blues, and rhythm and blues all the way from a 50’s period Texas, the latest volume of this magnificent series to date is clearly under pressure! However, early signs appear promising once the inventive and full of momentum and threadbare at best beginning of Amos Milburn and His Aladdin Chickenshackers with track ‘Greyhound’ gets underway. Moving on, the songs arrive thick and fast where rhythms are often energetic and there exists a sense of optimism to some of the song’s narratives. Such examples can be discovered by Joe Tex and clearly hungry ‘Yum, Yum, Yum’, to celebratory feel of ‘I’m From Texas’ from Lee Graves (with Henry Hayes and His Rhythm Kings). Of course, this wouldn’t be a “blues” album without a little doubt creeping in, not to mention love existing in the gutter, and ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.7’ provides plenty of examples. Clear from its title alone, ‘Dirty Mistreater’, engagingly relayed via equally capturing namesake “Smokey” Hogg, is one such track. Ditto, ‘Getting Drunk’, convincingly told by the guitar and vocals of Young John Watson. In fact, there’s so much goodness here, musically and lyrically, and with twenty-eight tracks to experience the many and varied delights of this compilation album which, by the way, even reveals a caring side (i.e. Roy “Mr. Guitar” Gaines ‘Worried ‘Bout You Baby’), you simply cannot fail to fall in love with the sounds of ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.7’ because it certainly lives up to its previous volume and therefore maintains the excellent high quality.


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Hank Williams Songbook Vol.1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Ushering in another new series is Atomicat Records with their ‘Hank Williams Songbook Vol.1’. The new set of volumes looks to the songs of Hank Williams with a few additional tracks that also inspired the singer-songwriter. The rest is left to various selected artists to provide their interpretations of Hank Williams songs. Therefore, Volume. 1, ‘Rockin’ Chair Money’, focuses on numerous songs where country, bluegrass, gospel and honky tonk play their parts, for example, and often where the tempo is upbeat and lively. Step forward various artists with sizeable reputations to spread the gospel that was Hank Williams when it came to traditional country music, presented here by the likes of Moon Mullican (‘Jambalaya’), Marvin rainwater (‘Moanin’ The Blues’), Johnny Horton (‘Cherokee Boogie’), Don Gibson (‘Why Don’t You Love Me’) and The Maddox Brothers & Rose with ‘Honky Tonkin’. Much respect is given by Porter Wagoner’s version of classic ‘Settin’ The Woods On Fire’, to nothing to be ashamed of cover of ‘I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You’ by Delbert Barker. Equally competent and offering slightly different versions of Williams’ songs are Smilin’ Eddie Hill with ‘Mind Your Own Business’ and bluegrass legend Bill Monroe with ‘I Saw The Light’. With a hefty twenty-eight tracks to work through with this new release, there’s much to ponder and rejoice in when it came to the music of Hank Williams.


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Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Second volume of brand-new compilation series from the Atomicat label ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive’ features another twenty-eight tracks from well-established artists to a few names less so when it comes to country music. Ranging from hillbilly to western swing and honky tonk,  ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.2’ offers yet more great quality as far as the music goes, but the bonus with the second edition is the inclusion of artists who are less prominent when it comes to similar compilation albums. Therefore, step forward the likes of Curley Williams & His Georgia Peach Pickers and track ‘Texas Swing’, to other candidates Village Boys ‘Boogie Woogie In The Village’, Billy Hughes ‘Cocaine Blues’, Bill Mounce and Sons of the South ‘Kickin’ It Off’, and Big Jeff & The Radio Playboys’ ‘Juke Box Boogie’. To have a song named ‘Cocaine Blues’ was rock ‘n’ roll in itself before the genre had been invented and, without doubt, there must have been plenty of wild shenanigans predating rock ‘n’ roll judging from the lively rhythms of many of these songs. The inclusion of Grayson And Whitter’s ‘Train Forty-Five’ is a special touch with its fiddle generating the rhythm and thus providing the imaginary momentum of the train in motion, to gorgeous guitar pickin’ and storytelling via Bob Newman and pressure that’s on during ‘Haulin’ Freight’. If you’re looking for something a little different when it comes to country compilations, then ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.2’ could just be the ticket.

 



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