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Come On Baby It’s Christmas, More Hillbilly Christmas

Various Artists

Atomicat

As with volume One of this new collection of songs focusing on Christmas, the second volume ‘Come On Baby It’s Christmas, More Hillbilly Christmas’ offers another round of quality tunes for this special time of year. One notable difference is the sadness featured is a tad higher than its forerunner. For our money that’s a bonus as much reflection is given to this Christmas period and where else to begin than Lou Dining ‘Blue December’, or near-rustic bop of excellent Bev Munro and The Rhythm Rascals’ ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back’. Topping the charts of melancholy, however, is Red Sovine ‘Christmas Alone’ which, despite the sadness at its core, delights for its intimacy of pared-back instrumentation and captivating voice. There is merriment to be found and is never far away arriving via the likes of Kitty Wells’ ‘Santa’s On His Way’, Gene Autry ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ and chipping in with rather curious ditty is Dallas Frazier with Joe “Fingers” Carr ‘Jingle-O-The Brownie’. A traditional standard by way of ‘Silent Night’ is included, and supplied by Kitty Wells, and likewise superb pairing of Les Paul and Mary Ford adding much class to ‘White Christmas’. As with the first volume, the artwork is to be highly commended when it comes to ‘Come On Baby It’s Christmas, More Hillbilly Christmas’, in addition to the contents supplied because these songs deserve a hearing especially if you enjoy your Christmas songs to contain something a bit more weighty when it comes to the words. In a class of its own and worth every penny, ‘Come On Baby It’s Christmas, More Hillbilly Christmas’ is an essential addition to Christmas this year.


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Christmas Time’s A-Comin’, A Hillbilly Christmas

Various Artists

Atomicat

Looking for a Christmas compilation with something a little bit different to impress the neighbours during this year’s holiday period, then taking a punt on ‘Christmas Time’s A-Comin, A Hillbilly Christmas’ would not be a bad place to start. With thirty tracks selected and featuring several country artists from a bygone era and focusing on the festive season, this album will provide some great memories for many and a few new ones less familiar with the artists featured. Leaving the keys to Jimmy Martin who opens the door and presents a delightfully warm ‘Old Fashioned Christmas’, immediately there is an inkling of what to expect concerning the rest of the album. So, step forward Jimmy Wakely and ‘That’s Santa Claus’ that is a sweet little ditty with plenty of detail where you will hear martial drumming and even a trumpet occasionally lifting above the sleighbells. Speaking of high on top is equally sweet ‘Up On The Housetop (Ho, Ho, Ho)’ from Gene Autry and complete with Carl Cotner’s Orchestra. Add to such tracks Martha Carson ‘Christmas Time Is Here’, and saccharine ‘Jolly Old Saint Nicholas’ by Roy Drusky, and the entire set looks to be a merry Christmas. However, and thankfully, this is country music after all, and any such collection would not be accurate without a few weepies along the way. Therefore, such emotions are left to Ernest Tubb (‘I’m Trimming My Christmas Tree With Teardrops’ and ditto ‘Blue Christmas’), George Jones (‘Lonely Christmas Call’) and even Bill Haley and The Saddlemen (‘A Year Ago This Christmas’). The album ends on a beautiful note via Dick Thomas with The Travelaires ‘Christmas In The Country’ that really brings this collection home and a reminder of positive times. An extremely strong set of songs and offering something different to the usual compilation albums this time of year, ‘Christmas Time’s A-Comin, A Hillbilly Christmas’ is highly recommended.


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The Mojo Man Special Volume 1: Doctor Velvet

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Drumming up a new idea seems to be all in a day’s work for The Mojo Man because this time around it is the subject of dancing that provides inspiration for the latest release on Koko Mojo. Yes, a record bursting at the seams with twenty-four “Dancefloor Killers”, ‘The Mojo Man Special Volume 1’ is given added pulling power by way of its additional title, “Doctor Velvet”, but it’s the tunes that will get you moving of course. Mike Robinson and ‘Lula’ makes for a lively opening with its raucous rhythm including saxophone and piano. It’s not just the “Mojo” of its title that gets a look in here as Volcanos provide some red-hot guitar and what sounds like a regular beat of the bongos in the rear to ‘Oh Oh Mojo’, and a few doors down it’s The Nite Riders who add their version of ‘Doctor Velvet’, which is far from slick as it pounds out an equally raucous racket that positions itself as major contender for song of the album. From there on, the whole album is filled with some fine rhythm and blues via Eddie Barnes ‘Sweet Lover’; Harmonica Fats applying raw vocals to ‘Tore Up’ and a similarly hollering performance from Johnny Otis Orchestra with ‘Little Red Hen’. Calming things down a notch is Earl Connelly King and song ‘They Tell Me’, which has a slightly languid feel yet really impresses throughout, especially due to strong vocals. There is much to delight over here and certainly plenty of songs to get the listener up on the dancefloor and therefore achieving its objective because ‘The Mojo Man Special Volume 1: Doctor Velvet’ is the real deal.


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The Ultimate Koko-Mojo Christmas Party

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The Mojo Man presents an album for the festive season with ‘The Ultimate Koko-Mojo Christmas Party’. With twenty-eight handpicked tracks, The Ultimate Koko-Mojo Christmas Party’ sets out to live up to its title with a variety of numbers to get you in the mood for this special time of year. Beginning in fine taste with Oscar McLollie And His “Honey Jumpers” ‘Dig That Crazy Santa Claus’; a lively rhythm and blues with quality vocals and plenty of saxophone to really ignite this album. What is most interesting here is the changes in styles from the rhythm and blues and definite soul-edge of Lee Rogers’ ‘You Won’t Have To Wait Till Xmas’, to reduced tempos as The Youngsters’ ‘Christmas In Jail’ laced with dry wit as it recounts the stupidity of the central protagonist involved and a Christmas to forget. Lovely stuff, and worth the purchase price for this track alone. Elsewhere, the female performers get a look in with excellent vocals and midtempo rhythm of Dee Dee Ford’s ‘Good-Morning Blues’, to vocal group Debbie & The Darnels ‘Santa, Teach Me To Dance’. Overfilled with a variety of Christmas tracks, and serving as a reminder of the quality that has gone before, such as Marvin & Johnny ‘It’s Christmas Time’ and ending with a bang via early soul of Gary Walker and ‘Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag’, this is one Christmas party you won’t want to miss.


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Let’s Have A Doo Wop Christmas

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The realisation that Christmas is nearly upon us is greeted with a fresh compilation from Koko Mojo Records and specifically a Doo Wop Christmas. Focusing on vocal group performers with an entirely Christmas theme is a wise idea considering the often-warm feeling one gets when listening to such great vocal harmonies and rhythms. With thirty tracks featuring, ‘Let’s Have A Doo Wop Christmas’ is lined with numbers from The Ravens, The Five Keys, The Orioles, The Platters, The Moonglows et al. Steering the listener to hopefully much Christmas cheer is ‘Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer’ from The Melodeers and then proceeded by gloriously upbeat The Shells ‘Happy Holiday’. This collection also excels for providing those deeply comforting sounds where the melodies are slowed right down, and the vocals are welcoming as in The Falcons ‘Can This Be Christmas’, and ditto The Drifters’ ‘White Christmas’. With such compilations feeding a special corner of record collectors’ collections, other gems gracing this wonderful collection include golden vocals of The Marcels’ ‘Don’t Cry For Me This Christmas’ and livening the festive period up once more The Hepsters ‘Rockin’ And Rollin’ With Santa Claus’, The Penguins and sleighbells accompaniment ‘Jingle Jangle’, and then offering more great vocals and something of a duet via The Nic Nacs featuring Mickey Champion ‘Gonna Have A Merry Christmas’. If there is one Christmas album to own this year, then ‘Let’s Have A Doo Wop Christmas’ is a clear winner.


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Koko Showcase: A Journey To The Land Of Blues And Rhythm

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Reacting to the positive reception of Koko Mojo’s rhythm and blues series of compilation albums, the final instalment arrives with a thirty-track album consisting of many of the highlights from the series of CDs. With a difficult task filtering through many hours of delightful traditional blues and rhythm and blues found on this set of albums, the final list of tracks making up ‘A Journey To The Land Of Blues And Rhythm’ features a track from each album and referenced on the back cover. From this picking list of rhythm and blues it’s such delights as Lucky Millinder’s ‘Who Said Shorty Wasn’t Coming Back’, and powerhouse vocals of Little Miss Jessie with ‘My Baby Has Gone’ to see why this compilation series was in such great demand. From there it’s the likes of opening track ‘You Drink Too Much Booze’ by Jimmy Raney & Slim Slaughter with jazz influencing its rhythm, to confident turn in more ways than one from Marty Lewis and song ‘Satisfied With My Lovin’’. It is also the anecdotes that inform much of these songs in addition to the compelling music, not forgetting some of the monikers of the artists featured and titles of a few of the songs with oddity that is the track ‘Psycho’ by Bobby Hendricks winning hands down. Those who are new to the Koko Mojo experience and missed the majority of these compilation albums would be wise to start with ‘Koko Showcase: A Journey To The Land Of Blues And Rhythm’ because during its thirty tracks provides a wide dosage of rhythm and blues with enough evidence to tempt any listener to explore the rest of this series. A limited-edition release to mark this excellent series in style is ‘Koko Showcase: A Journey To The Land Of Blues And Rhythm’.


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Southern Bred: The Hot Thirty Picks

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Due to the resounding success of the Southern Bred series on the Koko Mojo imprint, the final say to this excellent series goes to a strictly limited-edition compilation featuring a selection of tracks from several states in America. With the regions of Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and the City of New Orleans featuring here, the curators of Southern Bred no doubt had tough decisions to make when compiling this list of thirty tracks considering the ten volumes previously issued. No matter as the selection of songs provides more than enough evidence that investment in this series is worth every penny of anyone’s hard-earned cash for those new to the Southern Bred albums. Interestingly and the right decision to go with is the mixture of well-known artists with the less than familiar and providing further details of what to expect if considering further investigation of the series as a whole. Opinions will no doubt differ but highlights featuring ‘The Hot Thirty Picks’ include Sonny Boy Williamson with Willie Love and ‘Too Close Together’; Howlin’ Wolf ‘Wang-Dang-Doodle’; Big Bill Broonzy and His Big Little Orchestra ‘Tomorrow’; Lloyd price and His Orchestra ‘The Chicken And The Bop’; Floyd Dixon ‘Roll Baby Roll’; Baldemar Huerta ‘El Rock De La Prison’ and Clayton Lou ‘Mary Lou’. The truth in fact is that the whole contents of Southern Bred: The Hot Thirty Picks’ is simply engaging and with numbers limited there is only one investment worth making right now.


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The Mojo Man’s Halloween Party

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

More a party at home this year considering the unprecedented times we are all experiencing, but at least this new long player will provide hours of entertainment given the carefully considered track list with far more than the usual suspects. Yes, it’s marketed as a Halloween album, but considering the quality and diversity available here, ‘The Mojo Man’s Halloween Party’ is an album to spin any time of the year if you’re a connoisseur of all things rockin’ or you enjoy a touch of humour and eccentricities with your rockin’ delights. With Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Well, you can’t really leave him out) introducing this compilation with ‘Little Demon’, and then followed by equally gripping track ‘At The House Of Frankenstein’, complete with captivating vocal performance by Big Bee Kornegay, makes for a winning start. There are instrumentals from The Nite Caps (‘Haunted Sax’) and others containing smatterings of haunted vocals for effect from the likes of Oscar Hamod & His Majestics with ‘Haunted House’ and Bill Doggett ‘Monster Party’. Intro of the album goes to Tyrone A’Saurus & His Cro-Magnons and rockin’ ‘Monster Twist’, which is not to suggest the rest of its contents fail to live up to such quality because it happens to be one of several highlights to be discovered here. Serving up a modern twist is Little Victor and raw electric blues of ‘Graveyard Boogie’, before reverting to more rockin’ treasures from the vaults by way of The Verdicts’ ‘The Mummy’s Ball’ and The Monotones’ ‘Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’. The Mojo Man does it again with another ten out of ten selection of oddball snippets and rockin’ tracks that make this album a must have for any Halloween party or to enjoy all year round.


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Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.10

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Quite possibly the final chapter in what has been a mesmerising spell of blues and traditional rhythm and blues of “Southern Bred” artists who left their musical legacy to history and served as reminders throughout all these volumes. Arriving at number ten in the series, ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers’ continues with the by now standard format of twenty-eight tracks featuring many well-known artists, in addition to a few lesser known names. With the latest album including several musicians featured on the previous volume such as Roy Hawkins, Peppermint Harris, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Floyd Dixon to name a few, the quality of this latest compilation is already assured to be exceedingly high. Beginning with the excellent and lively rhythm and blues of Big Walter and His Thunderbirds and song, ‘Pack, Fair & Square’, and continuing with engaging vocals and rhythm found during ‘Bippin’ An Boppin’ (Over You)’ by Bobby Byrd and Orchestra. If this is truly the end of this fine series, then the final volume is certainly ending on a high as evidenced by the inclusion of wonderful rough diamond ‘Seven Days’ performed by Gory Carter, to saxophone stompin’ rhythm of Joe Houston’s ‘We’re Gonna Rock ‘N’ Roll’, and equally captivating ‘Wine Drinkin’ Woman’ from Roy Hawkins whose vocal adds to the overall conviction of this record, not to mention standout lead guitar that scorches a few holes in this player! Finishing with smooth as silk numbers as ‘Baby Don’t Go’ from Jesse Belvin, to piano boogie via Lloyd Glenn and His Joymakers and ‘Midnight Boogie’, ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.10’ is a record that stands out on its own merits yet is part of a series of albums equally on par with the quality offered here.


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Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.9

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Under the knowledge that the previous volume of ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers’ was the last in the series, up pops another volume much to this publication’s delight. Hosting a further twenty-eight tracks, ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.9’ continues the fine selection of its predecessors as it begins in fine fashion via Bobby Day and ‘That’s All I Want’, and concluding in equally fine manner by way of Young Jessie and ‘I Smell A Rat’. The tracks in between offer much to enthuse over and starting, in no particular order, with the likes of Floyd Dixon ‘Roll Baby Roll’, to rhythm and blues featuring much harmonica from namesake Harmonica Slim and ‘Going Back Home’, and elsewhere the improvised feel and finger pickin’ blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ ‘New York Boogie’. With Marie Adams (‘Ain’t Car Crazy’) adding to the rhythm and blues of this album, and Barbara Lynn (‘Teen Age Blues’) offering something a bit more advanced from the same genre yet still within the boundaries of its traditional foundations, there’s much to take in as far this latest volume goes. Such examples can be cited from somewhat unconventional approach of “Smokey” Hogg, who makes several appearances throughout this compilation and, most notably, during ‘Good Mornin’ Baby’ where instruments seem to overlap one another and, on occasions, sound off-kilter before finding their rhythm once more. A fascinating song. There is much to like about volume nine of ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers’ but, most of all, it’s the fact that the series has maintained its previous momentum and continues rolling.


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Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party Vol. 2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Second volume in the series ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’ sees another twenty-eight tracks of early soul music. Developing its sounds from the foundations of gospel, rhythm and blues and jazz music, the early pioneers of this evolving sound can be heard during ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party Vol. 2’. With established names such as The Isley Brothers leading the charge with rather well-known ‘Twist and Shout’, which helped put a certain beat combo of the 60s on the road to success, and followed by artists as Ray Charles (‘What’d I Say’) Esther Phillips (‘Release Me’) and Little Junior Parker (‘Driving Wheel’). With the emphasis of this series being the early stages of soul, it’s always fascinating to hear the first stages of artists such as James Brown, featured here with The Famous Flames and the track ‘Night Train’. Elsewhere there’s a few lesser known delights to be found via intriguingly named Birdlegs and Pauline ‘Spring’ that is as fresh and bright as its title due to combined female/male vocals and infectious midtempo rhythm, to equally captivating moniker Prince La La with ‘She Put The Hurt On Me’. Interesting lyrics, not to mention excellent vocals from Irma Thomas dominate ‘Don’t Mess With My Man’, in addition to other impressive numbers by way of the Midas touch given to ‘Release Me’ by Esther Phillips and accompanying musicianship. The list goes on as far as the overall quality of this latest volume of ‘Let’s Throw A Rockin’ Soul Party’. For best results, simply invest in this album and hear for yourself the consistency of greatness selected because you will not be disappointed.


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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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