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Southern Bred: Tennessee & Arkansas R&B Rockers Vol.21

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Turning its attention to the States of Tennessee & Arkansas is the album series ‘Southern Bred R&B Rockers’. A new volume and number therefore, the lastest album in this mighty fine series gets off to a flyer with the powerhouse vocals of Little Willie John and ‘Do You Love Me’. Next track worthy of consideration is Gene Allison with ‘If Things Don’t Change’, which is less “in your face” and more restrained than Little Willie John, but is equally full of energy and contains vocals that show their range and still presented in a very similar manner to the aforementioned ‘Do You Love Me’. From rhythm and blues to a straight blues affair is Chicago Sunny Boy and ‘On The Floor’, which is an instrumental and full of piping-hot harmonica and it’s rockin’! Cecil Gant’s ‘Nashville Jumps’ is a sophisticated slice of rhythm and blues and boogie-woogie piano and complete with detailed lyrics drawing one’s attention to the speaker. In other words, fabulous! Something of rock ‘n’ roll spliced with blues shows up during Frank Frost with The Nighthawks and track ‘Now Twist’. There is more rhythm and blues greatness via Billy ‘Red’ Love and His Orchestra with ‘Drop Top’ on the Chess label and reveals itself to be an early precursor to rock ‘n’ roll. With the turn of the Willies to close this first chapter in the Tennessee & Arkansas range of albums with Little Willie John popping by once again and this time with ‘Until You Do’, before the clever combination of blues and very early rock ‘n’ roll influence of Big Willie and ‘Bogey Man’. It just keeps on getting better, the album series that is Southern Bred R&B Rockers that is.


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A Drive-By Love Affair

The Kokomo Kings

Rhythm Bomb

Seeking affection is The Kokomo Kings via their new long player ‘A Drive-By Love Affair’.  Featuring great artwork and twelve new songs to peruse over, the album title suggests a more carefree attitude and with the band in something of a mischievous mood given the album’s front cover. Opening the contents, the music reveals itself to be raw and often roomy in terms of its presentations of rockin’ blues that dominates the majority of tracks present. Songs either rattle on hinges and swing in the breeze or are incendiary in their delivery like ‘The Wonder Man’; a rattle & roll burning blues number complete with slide guitar and it’s really rather terrific! ‘The Smile Of A Shark’ is Chuck Berry-esque in its delivery of rock ‘n’ roll blues and natty lyrics. ‘A Million Stars’ is the kind of track that would appeal to the likes of the Rolling Stones (Think this has been mentioned before concerning an earlier Kokomo Kings album, therefore suggesting a supporter in the camp) with its straight-ahead, no-nonsense double barrel of rock ‘n’ roll blues where feet will definitely be tapping. From there, sister song ‘Too Late To Grow Up’ reveals the band’s humorous side and their ability to not take themselves too seriously, not that the song is in anyway a throwaway number, more like a companion piece to the aforementioned ‘A Million Stars’. ‘Jump Like A Chicken’ is as jittery sounding as its title suggests and an excellent combination of blues and rockabilly. The closing, ‘Drinking Fire And Eating The Ash’ reveals itself to be a huge curiosity given its seriously raw presentation and sense of never-ending rhythm and words that leave one to ponder that someone or something has completely given up. Never ones to disappoint, The Kokomo Kings produce an album of strong compositions in ‘A Drive-By Love Affair’ with much to consider from its department of lyrics that will find you coming back for more given its rich overall feel.


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Hallowscream!

Various Artists

Atomicat

It’s that time of year again when things that go bump in the night stage their own party. Commemorating the annual event that is Halloween is the album ‘Hallowscream!’. At the helm is DeeJay Mark Armstrong who, along with illustrator Henrique San, have conjured up an album package containing plenty of rockin’ tunes housed inside very appealing artwork. With all things relating to Halloween, it remains a most promising night for the likes of witches, spooks, and ghouls, and for serious acts involving murder and mayhem to take place. Expect, therefore, much weirdness, (dark) humour and scintillating red-hot rock ‘n’ roll. Getting the darkest of festivities underway is ‘Mad Witch’ supplied by Dave Gardener who rolls out the words in a spoken fashion and backed by a rhythm that is from the stable of Country & Western. Backing this up in equally compelling style is rockabilly rattler ‘It’s Witchcraft’ from The Blue Echoes. With not a Bo Didley or Screamin’ Jay Hawkins or Purple People Eater in sight, let alone earshot, the album ‘Hallowscream!’ is a welcome addition given the refreshing choices of its track list to what is a hefty pile of Halloween compilations already in circulation. That is down to the album’s curator where time is given, but also a pre-existing knowledge of a wide music base. Inducing a smile is the intro and, in fact, rest of the contents of imaginative ‘Wolf Man’ performed by Laurie Allen. There’s some early 60s splashes of music from three-quarters instrumental ‘Hocus Pocus’ with vocals added, but more in a background kind of way, from The Shouters in support of main performer Buddy Lucas. A more serious note swings by via rock ‘n’ roll instro that is mean and moody and targeted for a film noir soundtrack from the Chess label with The Nite Caps’ ‘Haunted Sax’, which really sums up the diversity on offer. Further explanations of this wonderful compilation would end up running into the wee small hours because there is so much to consume from its thirty-song track list and those hours, really, are reserved for the various nefarious characters celebrating their favourite date on the annual calendar. Expectations are therefore extremely high when any suggestion of a second volume in this series being a “No brainer” when that time arrives next year. Happy Halloween everyone!

 


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Wolf Pack

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

CD two giving further coverage to the harmonica and another serious workout is the album ‘Wolf Pack’. Great artwork imagery leads one to the contents containing twenty-eight tracks of mainly blues material. There’s red-hot harmonica in abundance with, leading the way, Walter Horton and ‘Have A Good Time’, and then followed by Sonny And Jaycee ‘You Keep Dogging Me’ and Jesse Perkins and The Bad Boys ‘One More Kiss’. From there, the music continues its feisty streak with Drifting Slim and ‘My Sweet Woman’, Harper-Brinson Band with ‘Harpers Return’, Lightnin’ Slim’s ‘Rooster Blues’, and Billy Bland with ‘Chicken Hop’. Adding variation to the up-tempo numbers can be found during one of the album’s highlights that is Willie B. and nearly drifting off to sleep ‘This I Gotta See’; a song full of originality with its dreamlike qualities making it utterly essential listening. Further variation is heard via wonderful ramshackle presentation of ‘Stack Of Dollars’ from Joe Williams, before welcoming some traditional rhythm and blues during ‘I Ain’t Got No Money’ with Billy (Boy) Arnold providing compelling narration throughout. Honour of the title track is bestowed to Kid Thomas, and there are serious guitar and harmonica workouts from back-to-back songs Whispering Smith ‘Live Jive’ and Eddie Taylor ‘You’ll Always Have A Home’. There may be some familiarity here, but there is certainly plenty of less familiar tunes to make ‘Wolf Pack’ an essential purchase for those who love a bit of the blues.


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Go Away

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Two albums with the harmonica in mind (The next is to follow) from Koko Mojo. First consideration is the not so amicable reception of the album title ‘Go Away’. Delving into the album contents, however, provides a less frosty reception with a mouth-watering twenty-eight tracks consisting of blues and rhythm and blues for your enjoyment. Once underway, and eventually reaching its conclusion, the latest in this album series reveals there’s not a dud track in sight. First is Willie Nix and the wiry texture of ‘Just Can’t Stay’. From there it is left to numerous quick tempos of excellent ‘Uncle Bud’ by Sonny Terry and with the harmonica providing the fuel, to genuine feel of wheels in motion via puff and smoke ‘Goin’ Back To New Orleans’ from Jesse and Buzzy, to more lively additions by way of Buster Brown and track ‘Two Women’ and Joe Hill Louis with ‘Hydramatic Woman’. It’s a real blues fest of an album to be honest with the harmonica on fine form and giving added oomph to many of the lively rhythms on offer, which leaves ‘Go Away’ as another notch on the post labelled “highest quality” of this exceptionally fine series.


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Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers Vol. 2

Various Artists

Atomicat

Part two of what is all ready shaping up to be an extremely fascinating series is the “new one” on Atomicat Records, ‘Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers’. By focusing on musical talent outside of Europe and specifically turning its attention to the countries of America and Australia with a little bit of New Zealand filtered in, the compilation ‘Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers Vol.2’ does exactly what is says on the tin and provides a plethora of tracks that made the grade back in the day and, since that initial breakthrough, a succession of artists tried their hands at covering these original hit songs. Expect plenty of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and some rhythm and blues from the USA and land of OZ. With rockers as Delbert Barker opening this album’s account with an excellent version of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’; a song made famous by Elvis and written and first recorded by rockabilly maestro Carl Perkins, Barker’s version has more in tune with the song’s originator and it is an impressive cover. Another rockin’ number arrives in the shape of ‘Life Begins At 4’O Clock’ covered by Ronnie Diamond, and later similar feats are recreated by Jim Lowe with really fine ‘Rock-A-Chicka’. Impressing elsewhere are the likes of Rusty Draper with a slightly cleaner version of Sammy Masters rockabilly classic ‘Pink Cadillac’, to originally performed by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra ‘Minnie The Moocher’ given over to Barry Martin on this occasion who is equal to the task by offering the correct definition of a true cover song. With much on offer, namely rhythm and blues meeting of rock ‘n’ roll that is The Mike Pedicin Quintet performing ‘Shake A Hand!’, one of SUN Record’s recording artists Ray Smith chipping in with ‘Little Miss Blue’, and a cover of Little Richard classic ‘Tutti Frutti’ from The Jesters who bring their own qualities. Every bit as good as the first album, and with plenty to enthuse over is the album ‘Rockin’ Rollin’ Covers Vol.2’ that hollers, “Go grab yourself a copy now!”.


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The Mojo Man Presents: Money, Money, Money

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Focusing on the lives and experiences of African Americans is the themed album series presented by The Mojo Man via Koko Mojo Records. The latest addition to a remarkably interesting series, and one with a social conscience, is ‘Money, Money, Money’. With a great shot of boxing legend Muhammed Ali gracing the front cover and depicted deep below in an unnamed bank vault ready to horde a wedge load of cash, this compilation provides accounts of situations where the individual is either struggling to make ends meet or the occasional example where the individual has a bit of spare change in their pockets. With blues and rhythm and blues being the music ordered to represent these songs about money, there is no better place to start than Jerry McCain’s raw blues shuffle ‘That’s What They Want’. From this position whether returning to the beginning of the track list or fast forwarding to its end, the musical journey will not disappoint as there’s plenty of rhythm and blues to keep the listener entertained. Whether it’s the carefree attitude detected in the tempo of Detroit Junior’s ‘Money Tree’, or the brassy rhythm of The Poor Boys ‘(I’m Gonna) Spend My Money’, rhythm and blues is certainly the dominant force throughout the album. With Georgia Lane really letting it out of the bag with the feisty composition ‘Get It’, to Dwight Duvoll dropping deep vocals and thoroughly convincing when explaining how to ‘Get The Money’ set to a bright rhythm with, again, plenty of brass instrumentation and proving a real driving force. Add to that a classic from The Clovers with ‘Your Cash Ain’t Nothing But Trash’ and further cool brass instrumentation by way of Billy Hamlin and ‘If You Ain’t Got No Bread’, and the album ‘Money, Money, Money’ can safely be said is worth exactly all of that and more!

 


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The Mojo Man Presents: Soldier Boy

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The next volume in the themed series focusing on the experiences of African Americans and their roles in society arrives on Koko Mojo with, once more, the Mojo Man presenting. This time it is the experience of African American soldiers to be detailed in the album’s liner notes who fought for their country yet were denied equal rights as citizens back home. The collection of songs featured during the album ‘Soldier Boy’ offers plenty of accounts of the “blues” experienced while away overseas in combat or the struggles mentally that came with it once a war was over. Such examples can be heard during excellent late-night piano barroom blues of ‘End O’ War Blues’ from Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers that sheds plenty of tears, to another tearjerker supplied by the magnificent vocals of Jerry Butler and song ‘A Lonely Soldier’. Further isolated incidents where loneliness tends to follow during such stressful and tragic times can be heard via the smoky jazz and blues feel of “Hot Lips” Page’s Hot Seven and ‘Uncle Sams Blues’. Picking up the tempo, if not the mood, is Lloyd Price with ‘Mailman Blues’, which is a lively rhythm and blues number. The album ‘Soldier Boy’ possesses much character and expressed by the songs making up this collection, which is essential given the seriousness of the subject matter here. Therefore, expect to hear plenty of great vocal performances from the likes of Bobby John with ‘Lonely Soldier’, and same song title at least from the harmonious vocals of The Illusions and also The Montells during ‘Soldier Boy’. There is even room for some off kilter blues via Brownie McGhee and ‘Swing, Soldier, Swing’. Capturing many different emotions and emitting these feelings via its collection of songs is the rather good album ‘Soldier Boy’.


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The Mojo Man Presents: Off To Work

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A new album theme arrives at Koko Mojo and one that focuses on the workplace. Presented by The Mojo Man, ‘Off To Work’ the album is not a celebratory piece about how wonderful work is, but an album that specifically concentrates on the conditions and experiences that African Americans have had to endure over the years whether enslavement (Oscar Brown Jr ‘Work Song’) and, in many cases today, lack of opportunities and poor working conditions. Without this collection of songs being a political vehicle, it is left to the album’s liner notes to provide more of such details. ‘Off To Work’ is the African American experience of work given the black rhythm and blues and blues artists featured on this album, but the songs reflect universal themes of low wages, long hours, problem bosses and the unfortunate prospect of being unemployed that many of us can experience during our working lives. Focusing on the music therefore, age-old themes of the Monday morning blues can be heard via two back-to-back numbers from Smiley Lewis and Fats Domino and, you guessed it, ‘Blue Monday’. From there, Louis Jordan provides the big band treatment to ‘Workin’ Man’, and then there’s John Lee Hooker relaying a captivating story of ‘I Lost My Job’ that sounds like lines from a script for a movie set to an old blues score, a truly wonderful track! With a further detailed turn from B.K. Anderson (‘The Minimum Wage’), and two tracks where the guitars equally do the talking via reliable Chuck Berry (‘Let It Rock’) and Lightnin’ Hopkins (‘Don’t Need No Job’), the album ‘Off To Work’ is a fascinating insight and listening experience of such a specific role in society.


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Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.20

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

As with the previous volume, newest arrival featuring various artists via ‘Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.20’, Koko Mojo goes all out once more to offer another very interesting spin of the two US locations concerning blues, rhythm and blues and the increasing fascination, and fast developing sounds of rock ‘n’ roll. It all makes for great listening because there’s plenty for the music listener to sink their teeth into with plenty of the likes of Fats Domino, Lennie LaCour, Louis Prima with Sam Butera and The Witnesses, Allen Toussaint, and once more Nellie Lutcher and this time with Nat King Cole. Where this compilation heats up is with the inclusion of many lesser-known tracks and artists featured. Look therefore to harmonious atmosphere emitting from The Mellow Drops’ ‘The Crazy Song’, to interesting named Two Crows and The Diggers and bluesy ‘Poison Ivy’ that has a slightly beaten and worn feel to it, and just about maintaining power via the accompanying saxophone. It’s a great track! The Royal Kings thrive on traditional rhythm and blues in very lively fashion with their offering ‘Bouncin’ The Boogie’, whereas The Upsetters possess a lot more attitude with rather animated ‘The Strip’. The rock ‘n’ roll blends in nicely and given plenty of power through Tony Allan and ‘Rockin’ Shoes’, and then what sounds like first steps of said genre during ‘Baby, Rock Me’ from Pat Valdelar. Thriving on such talent and with a seemingly endless slew of artists and tracks to choose from, the exploration of R&B Rockers of the Louisiana & New Orleans music scenes was an excellent choice to make, and one that will be sadly missed once it reaches its end.


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Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.19

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Mining the vaults at Koko Mojo and unearthing more artists who left an indelible mark on the music scene, in addition to those musicians who were less fortunate despite recording noteworthy songs and therefore represented here. Those artists who made a public profile can be identified during latest ‘Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.19’ with none other than Fats Domino and rollicking rhythm ‘Ain’t That Just Like A Woman’, Paul Gayten with ‘You Better Believe It’, and female singing sensation Nellie Lutcher and Her Rhythm with jazz infected ‘He’s A Real Gone Guy’. From such a positive beginning, the rest of Volume Nineteen continues to amaze, but with many artists in possession of a lower profile of when it comes to these blues and rhythm and blues compilations. For example, and as with previous albums, there’s plenty who made the grade and left their legacy on the public, but the newest addition to the Southern Bred series really allows for plenty of room for some interesting faces, not to mention beautiful tones of one Chick Carbo and song ‘In The Night’, to Rolling Crew and Orchestra adding some creativity with a touch of acting alongside the instrumentation of ‘Cryin’ Emma’. Add to the list the flavoursome in name Cookie and ‘That’s What You Do To Me’, to Lonesome Sundown with ‘Learn To Treat Me Better’, and this is perhaps the best of an extremely good bunch of albums focusing on the Louisiana and New Orleans scenes.


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Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.18

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Continuing its focus on the scenes of Louisiana and New Orleans, latest album ‘Southern Bred R&B Rockers Vol.18’ sees a competitive tussle between those artists touting the established sounds of traditional rhythm and blues, with an emerging breed of musicians turned on by the fast-developing sounds of rock ‘n’ roll. With its songs revealing many different emotions associated with love and relationships, there is also room for songs and their titles to refer to the changing musical landscape with, for example, Plaz Adams referring directly to rock ‘n’ roll’s popularity with ‘Rock And Roll Is Spreading’ or similarly Charles Sheffield and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Train’, or The Big Rocker adding ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Romance’, which implies a fondness for the new wave of music sweeping the nation but also to a current relationship. Also notable are the absence of many of the established artists of the time, and more of the spotlight given to those often less covered in relation to such collections. Some of these musicians will be known by a considerable few, but there will be others less familiar with the previously mentioned Plaz Adams or Plas Johnson or Tal Miller to name a few. Of course, there are “big” inclusions with Lloyd Price and ‘Country Boy Rock’, Smiley Lewis and penned Dave Bartholomew track ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’, to Earl Palmer giving an instrumental rendition of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’. But it is the lesser known that fascinates most, simply for the reason mentioned earlier of less appearances when considering other compilation albums. Therefore, consideration goes to The Ramblers with vocals by Shelton Dunaway and wonderful simplicity of blues number ‘Cindy Lou’, or indolent rhythm, deliberately so, of ‘Single Life’ from Billy Tate to understand that ‘Southern Bred R&B Rockers…’ is another winning combination of artists and songs.



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