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Popcorn Story Vol.2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Recognised very much by its tempo, the popcorn genre is given fresh coverage once again by way of Koko Mojo Records. More specifically, the Mojo Man is the man responsible for selecting the tracks for the second album namely ‘Popcorn Story Vol.2’. With the idea of producing a “classic” popcorn series for the above mentioned record label, having issued the first album with plenty of well-known artists offering their songs to said genre of music, Volume two repeats this with an assortment of established singers and musicians who made a serious impact on the world of music during the 50s and 60s. Considering the genre of popcorn was born in Belgium and named after a dancehall in the same country, word of this slow to midtempo style and often in a minor key started to spread and eventually reached other countries. Despite its increasing popularity, the genre continues to have the feel of an underground interest when in comparison with other genres and scenes of music. That said, and the reason why we are here, ‘Popcorn Story Vol.2’ certainly made an impact given the number of bigger names who turned their attention to this genre. For example, Louis Jordan And His Tympany Five and classic ‘Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t (Ma Baby)’ starts the album and continues with early soul of Baby Washington and ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, Ray Rivera and hit ‘Troubles, Troubles’, Charlie Rich with ‘Let Me Go My Merry Way’, and Jimmy Randolph’s ‘Summertime’. As with the previous album, the songs and song titles often hint at, or directly refer to melancholy brought on by far from straightforward love interests. It all makes for dramatic listening and with the additional influences whether rhythm and blues, early soul and/or pop references, then the genre of popcorn remains a fascinating genre of music and rightly given the attention here by the Mojo Man.


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Popcorn Story Vol.1

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

New start-up for the Mojo Man with album series Popcorn Vol.1. Having issued previous album series ‘Popcorn Blues Party’, these new CDs aim to add a bit more regarding the history of the popcorn genre and Koko Mojo’s story so far. What began in Belgium at the end of the 60s and referring to a style of music and form of dancing, the genre known as Popcorn received its name from a dancehall called, you guessed it, Popcorn. Recognisable for its melodic and often slow or midtempo beats and taking its references from rhythm and blues from the 50s and mid-60s, not to mention further influences consisting of soul, funk and instrumental tunes. Eventually morphing into a albeit slightly larger scene in various other countries, the Popcorn genre developed in popularity but has consistently remained something of an underground scene. Reviving memories of this genre then, the Mojo Man selects a total of twenty-eight tracks, and this time aiming for a “classic” feel which is recognisable from the established names from these periods in music’s history. Therefore, it is interesting to see a few bigger names offering their wares to the genre of popcorn and often coming up trumps. For example, Little Willie John begins the album by offering a version of classic song ‘Fever’, and then followed (interestingly) by Tennessee Ernie Ford and ‘Sixteen Tons’; a song easily set to repeat given its charismatic storytelling. From there J.J. Jones And Combo equally retain the interest with ‘Harlem Nocturne’, which flits between the slow to midtempo rhythms associated with the popcorn genre. Etta James appears with her customary effortless vocals such was her talents and accompanied by sweeping orchestral strings and 60s-styling backing vocals during excellent ‘Seven Day Fool’. With Barry White And The Atlantics also appearing with ‘Tracy (All I Have Is You)’, Perry Como and song ‘Glendora’, to Roy Hamilton and ‘Earthquake’, the songs really ache with emotion and will leave the listener craving more once that final track plays out during ‘Popcorn Story Vol.1’.


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Rock And Roll Vixens #7

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

If memory serves correct, then latest volume in the series ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #7’ is the final chapter. Presenting another twenty-five tracks of “golden era” blues, rhythm and blues, vocal group harmonies and a smattering of early soul from a whole list of Afro-American girl singers of the 50s and early 60s, ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #7’ begins with a belter from Marie Knight and ‘I Thought I Told You’. From this forceful entrance, the music continues to captivate the senses and best examples of this coming from Ella Johnson’s persuasive vocals, given added umph by the big band accompaniment during ‘Well Do It’, followed by several lively rhythms powering the likes of ‘You Shocked Me’ (Tiny Topsy), ‘Teen-Age Love’ (Miss La-Vell), and ‘I Was A Fool For Leaving’ (Vikki Nelson), suggesting that album #7 in this series is perhaps the most dynamic yet. Further evidence of this comes from Etta James and accompanying musicians during excellent ‘That’s All’, where her vocals alone steer this song to greatness, despite terrific support from the lively rhythm section. As with previous albums in the ‘Rock And Roll Vixens’ series, there’s the additional inclusion of a “surprise” track, if you will, and this honour goes to Bonita & The Blues Shacks’ ‘Momma’s Goin’ Dancin’’ with no indication whatsoever of any modern influences, and with special mention going to the electrifying guitar playing! End of an album series which has given a much-needed voice to many Afro-American female performers of the 50s and 60s who, judging by the evidence of these seven albums, thoroughly deserve all the praise and respect many of their male counterparts received during this “golden era” of music.


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Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

An important part of the fabric of music’s historical past is honoured by Koko Mojo Records and latest instalment in the label’s “Spotlight” series. New album ‘Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots’ features the brothers Frankie and Lewis Lymon who were considered by many as one of the early stars of doo-wop music. Boasting a track list of twenty-eight songs, the tracks selected for this compilation of the singing duo’s works features Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, Lewis Lymon and The Teenchords, and additional solo material from Frankie Lymon. With both Lymon siblings considered equal in the vocals department, it was Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers who experienced greater success, internationally, and thus becoming famous as a result of this appreciation, compared to Lewis Lymon and The Teenchords recognition mainly stemming from New York City. Any differences in terms of credit received have no bearing on the talents of both singers as the album, ‘Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots’, displays a number of the brothers songs dating from 1956 and concluding in 1961. Beginning with the instantly recognisable and smash hit ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’ from Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers and continuing with another six songs of the same line-up and with pick of the bunch going to ‘Who Can Explain’ and ‘The ABC’s Of Love’ where you can really understand how much Frankie’s vocal equalled the momentum of the instruments (Listen out for some great saxophone here!). The song ‘I’m Not A Juvenile Delinquent’ must have been a reaction of the times considering the hysteria Elvis was experiencing and those less in favour of the developing rock ‘n’ roll culture with Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers protesting their innocence. Either way, it’s a journalist’s dream song because of its sociological references and fit for an interview if only the clock could be turned back. Other coverage is given to Lewis Lymon and The Teenchords where you can hear there’s less “sweetness” to the vocals and a bit more organic in its presentation with two belters in ‘Your Last Chance’ and ‘I’m Not Too Young To Fall In Love’. There is much to write about the collection ‘Spotlight On Frankie Lymon & Lewis Lymon – The Harlem Hotshots’ and not enough space to cover everything. Simply put, buy this compilation to experience the magic yourself.


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Knockdown And Lubricate The Gear

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

This is the kind of no-nonsense and straight to the point compilation many a music lover will appreciate and no doubt welcome into their collection. Fresh from Koko Mojo in terms of its blues and traditional rhythm and blues series, which has been weaving an alluring spell for some considerable time now given its high level of output, is brand-new album ‘Knockdown And Lubricate The Gear’. The clues are most definitely in the title of this current twenty-eight track long player where the guitar features heavily, and the sounds given plenty of energy. The rhythm flowing through The Continentals ‘Do It Baby’ suggests such an approach as it is performed at considerable pace with an equally quick lead vocal finding no trouble keeping up and greeted by a strong guitar break that takes this track to another level. Promising beginnings that only gets better by way of blues by name, blues by nature Lonesome Sundown and detailed guitar blues ‘Learn To Treat Me Better’. There’s much pain seeping from the vocals of Curley Page And Band has he laments over a relationship that only ever favoured one side during excellent ‘I Believed In A Woman’, before Flash Terry & His Orchestra live up to their moniker by offering an interesting mix of blues with big band accompaniments and sounding slightly ahead of its time given its rough edges and therefore impression of a band experimenting with a new sound. It’s the vocal once more that fuels the engine during track ‘Heartache & Troubles’ from Mr. Bo, whereas The Staples Singers provide a similar feat but only with more involvement from the instruments of song ‘Wish I Had Answered’. The final jolt of energy supplying the cables to this album comes from Jesse Allen And His Orchestra, where the sentiments of the lyrics are stripped bare and amplified by the rawest of guitars during ‘After A While’, which closes ‘Knockdown And Lubricate The Gear’ perfectly.


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Motorvatin’ Vol. 4

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Fourth and final album in the series “Motorvatin’”. A chance to reflect upon a period in African American history with the “Green Book” era of travel and associated restrictions, latest volume in this series with its customary twenty-eight tracks as chosen by the “Mojo” Man himself, gives a final ride to those seeking tunes with a blues and rhythm and blues flavour, and lyrics reflecting a love-hate association with America’s finest automobiles of the 50s. You will find songs of Cadillacs, Thunderbirds, T-Ford Models, Hot Rod Queens and so on, interlaced with issues surrounding relationships, breakdowns, lack of finance, and the joys of hitting an open road. The journey begins with the vocal harmonies of The Clovers’ ‘Drive It Home’ which is a tight rockin’ number that provides much energy and momentum for the rest of the drive ahead. Following with Roy Brown And His Mighty-Mighty Men and track ‘Cadillac Baby’ is the perfect accompaniment and great choice given the outstanding vocals and big band accompaniment powering this engine. Roy Tann maintains a midtempo pace with ‘Hot Rod Queen’ and showing no issues handling the various bends in the road when required. Elsewhere, Square Walton cruises along an ocean road coastline to the hazy, laidback blues of ‘Fish Tail Blues’. The song ‘Gasoline’ is filled with much charisma by The Jaytones and further evidence for any accusations of, “They don’t make them like they used to”, can certainly be applied. The Duals provide more energy to this journey, but this time with added vocals to ‘The Big Race’, which is full of wild, jagged hot rod/surf guitars and a standout track. Returning for a second outing is Jerry McCain and ‘Welfare Cadillac Blues’, having appeared recently on ‘Shilly Dilly – When Your Mojo Doesn’t Work’, and perfectly acceptable given its relevancy to the subject matter in hand but, more specifically, it’s a seriously great track. You will not be disappointed with the final car ride that is ‘Motorvatin’ Vol. 4’ because the “Mojo” Man definitely saved the best for last.


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Spotlight On Jimmy McCracklin The Rockin’ Man

Jimmy McCracklin

Koko Mojo

Latest to feature in Koko Mojo’s “Spotlight” series is rhythm and blues rockin’ legend Jimmy McCracklin. With an incredible song writing catalogue behind him including almost a thousand songs to his name, Jimmy McCracklin was a major force on the music scene with a career lasting seventy years. More specifically, the years between 1958 and 1966 were rather successful with McCracklin achieving several Billboard single chart successes, in addition to some of his albums reaching gold status, and not forgetting being welcomed into the Blues Hall of Fame. The album ‘Spotlight On Jimmy McCracklin The Rockin’ Man’ not only features solo work but also begins with his first band line-up Jimmy McCracklin and His Blues Blasters with the tracks almost split in half between the two sides of his musical career featured here. Beginning with “His Blues Blasters”, the album gets off to a flyer with ‘Big Foot Mama’, instrument heavy ‘Rockin’ All Day’ and captivating jump blues of ‘Gotta Cut Out’. In fact, it is this period with Jimmy McCracklin and His Blues Blasters that keep making an incision to one’s heart and filling it with nothing but musical goodness, exemplified by ‘Just Won’t Let Her Go’ with its dominant saxophone, rockin’ rhythm and McCracklin’s solid vocals making it a real driving force. There is variation as well with Jimmy McCracklin and Orchestra and tracks ‘She’s Gone’ and ‘She Felt Too Good’ where the tempos are slightly restrained but, more notably, McCracklin’s ability to offer a different presentation in his vocals reveals one of the reasons why he was so highly revered. The album closes with an assortment of solo tracks, in addition to McCracklin featuring with other artists as Jerry Thomas and Johnny Parker and His Orchestra making this not only a detailed overview of mainly Jimmy McCracklin’s work of the 50s and 60s, but the songs selected clearly display why he was up there with the greatest songwriters.


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Shilly Dilly – When Your Mojo Doesn’t Work

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Life is far from perfect for many of us, and latest album in the traditional rhythm and blues series of albums by Koko Mojo shows exactly why. ‘Shilly Dilly’ with its additional title ‘When Your Mojo Doesn’t Work’, is a twenty-eight-track collection featuring songs of never quite getting the rub of the green whether at work, in love, finance or life in general. It’s all about life choices as ‘Shilly Dilly – When Your Mojo Doesn’t Work’ reflects such songs where making the wrong decision often ends up on the wrong side of the tracks or, as indicated earlier, nothing seems to be working for you. Such ideas can be gleaned from song titles alone as indicated by ‘Big Rain’ from The G-Clefs or ‘Haunted House’ performed by Johnny Fuller and both songs indicative of nothing but a sombre mood hovering. That said there is plenty of dry humour present, not to mention charismatic storytelling from Andre Williams and ‘Jail Bait’, Stan Freberg with comical ‘The Great Pretender’ and always welcome when it comes to such compilation albums Boogaloo And His Gallant Crew and song ‘Clothes Line (Wrap It Up)’. There is much to ponder when it comes to the tale of poverty ‘Welfare Cadillac Blues’ expertly relayed by Jerry McCain. Similarly, there is nothing but ‘Work, Work’ for Chico Leverett where life never has any respite from its hardships. A consistently great album series with another addition to its ranks in ‘Shilly Dilly – When Your Mojo Doesn’t Work’.


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Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.17

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Continuing its journey of R&B Rockers is the ‘Southern Bred’ series of albums on Koko Mojo. With the latest being Volume 17 and once more focusing on Louisiana & New Orleans in terms of this scene of music, the album contains its usual format of twenty-eight songs and features well-known artists and many obscure performers, making this an essential set of albums for those with an enthusiasm for traditional rhythm and blues. The physical presentation remains with its tripartite digipak sleeve and liner notes and track selection undergone by DeeJay Mark Armstrong. As with previous albums, the rhythm and blues as its title suggests focuses on sounds that certainly “rocked” and continue to do so, but also there are songs featuring more of a straight blues sound or other instances where jump blues and rock ‘n’ roll heavily feature. Such examples can be heard during Volume 17 with brief shifts coming by way of Fats Domino and ‘Dance With Mr. Domino’, Champion Jack Dupree and His Band performing ‘Chittlins & Rice’, Huey “Piano” Smith with His Clowns ‘Don’t You Know Yockomo’, and Roy Brown ‘Good Looking And Foxy Too’. Other features musically can be heard via additional influences of Zydeco sounds where French cultural influences and those of Caribbean music and the blues combine and the listener will hear via Clifton Chenier’s ‘Boppin’ The Rock’. A real raw ace reveals itself and can be heard via ‘I Want You For Myself’ by Phillip Walker Band. The album concludes with an excellent blues-rockin’ number in ‘Early Morning Blues’ from Boogie Jack, which really is the icing on top of this cake and maintains the consistently great, and high-quality control given to the series that is ‘Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.17’.


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Motorvatin’ Vol. 3

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Reviving a not-too-distant series on Koko Mojo is Motorvatin’. Heading out on the road for a third time, the latest album ‘Motorvatin’ Vol. 3’ contains plenty of songs selected by the “Mojo” Man from America’s Green Book era and thus reflecting a period in history of African Americans. This is not a political vehicle, more that the tracks selected reveal tales of cars and what cars they were from Thunderbirds to Cadillacs and the journeys between them. The travels reflect many a tale and often humorous with some concerning the downside of life whereas others are celebratory. Such examples can be heard via excellent beginnings in Charlie Calhoun ‘(I Don’t Know) Why The Car Won’t Go’ where the purchase of a mule may have been a far better proposition! Continuing along such lines is Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee with the bluesy ‘Auto Mechanic Blues’, which is not too impressed by the cars arriving on their forecourt in rather poor condition. The jazz/blues instrumental ‘Flat Tyre’ from Johnny London gives off the impression of being let down gently on numerous levels if you allow your mind to wander a little. Given the inventive styles of the American automobile during the 50s, ‘Motorvatin’ Vol. 3’ contains songs that reflect this fresh and exciting method of transport whether ‘Cruisin’ under the spell of a cool guitar instrumental by The Duals, or big band presentation of ‘Mr. Thrill’ and Mildred Jones supplying great vocals, and convincingly so as far as double-entendre of the song’s lyrics go. Another thoroughly compelling addition to the segregation era of America where tales of the automobile can be experienced from African American perspectives by means of ‘Motorvatin’ Vol. 3’.


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Vocal Group Harmonies – Let’s Go Latin

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A different and interesting spin issued via Koko Mojo introducing vocal groups from the Latin quarters of America. New album ‘Vocal Group Harmonies – Let’s Go Latin’ gives voice to an earlier generation of Latinos with a keen interest in the rhythm and blues sounds of the times. Such was the impact that black African American rhythm and blues was either replicated or given a slight twist of Latin influences.  Boasting a track list of twenty-five songs the album ‘Vocal Group Harmonies – Let’s Go Latin’ is certainly full of musical flavour ranging from the more familiar-sounding rhythm and blues of The Roketones’ ‘Mexico’ to easily recognisable Latin sounds of ‘Mama, Mama, Mama’ and paint stripping vocals of Lou Perez. In other segments there’s a real mashup of the “traditional” with Latin American references and signposted via Los Llopis and track ‘Quito A Poguito’, The Love Notes’ ‘Sweet Lulu’ which vocally takes its inspiration from doo-wop and with Latin inspiring its beat. Additionally, there are cover songs to be found and rather good examples from Trio Los Flamingos with ‘Sh-Boom’, to a version of Neil Sedaka’s ‘Oh Carol’ popping up past the hallway mark and supplied by singing pair Duo Dinamico. With many combinations, in addition to straight examples of rhythm and blues for example, ‘Vocal Group Harmonies – Let’s Go Latin’ shows imagination by offering something considerably different from what has gone before as the album provides an insight of two cultures coming together to produce an exciting and diverse take on more traditional sounds and, in the process, a slice of musical history.


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The Mojo Man Special Volume 5 Party Time

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

In for a fifth volume and the final in the series is ‘The Mojo Man Special’ with the focus being ‘Party Time’. With the “Mojo” Man in full control here, expect the customary high quality of goods as far as the music is concerned because this series has been red-hot when fulfilling both dancing and listening appetites. Album number five begins in great fashion with Eddie Boyd on Chess Records and track ‘Drifting’, which is saxophone heavy and plenty of additional piano. From there the mood becomes even more animated with a strong vocal performance from Eddie Burns during ‘(Don’t Be) Messing With My Bread’, and equally talented as far as the vocals go is Danny Owens sweeter take of ‘You’re A Little Too Late’. A song of a different sort and more suited for a specific party in mind (i.e., Halloween) is The Poets with ‘Dead’. That said, the song does not sound out of place and offers something a little different, which is a theme during this album with back-to-back gospel numbers from first, Lucilee Barbee and ‘Let The Church Roll On’ and then Swan Silvertones and passionate ‘Trouble In The Way’. Bo Diddley is quite possibly the most represented musician on all the Koko Mojo output as he makes another appearance and this time it’s ‘Dearest Darling’, with special mention going to Bo’s vocal performance. The atmosphere loosens somewhat once ‘Dimple’ gets underway by Felton Jarvis, and followed later by ‘Need Your Lovin’ from Peppermint Harris who is in equally relaxed mood. The end of another fine set of albums from the “Mojo” Man with each volume offering much quality and a few hard to obtain tracks making this a must-have series for those enamoured with rhythm and blues.



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