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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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Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Turning its attention to music from the American wilderness is Atomicat who introduce a fresh series focusing on ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive’. The first volume features country music from America’s Pine State and features various artists predating what was to later become rock ‘n’ roll. With the genres of hillbilly, western swing and honky tonk featured throughout this first compilation, there’s certainly something for all those country music aficionados out there. Housed in an ultra-slim digipack and remastering having taken place at Black Shack Recordings and Mark Armstrong responsible for compiling all tracks, ‘Hillbilly Boogie And Jive Vol.1’ provides a great introduction to those less familiar with the aforementioned genres. There are many established names represented here from the likes of Bill Haley & His Comets, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Wade Ray, Merle Travis, Hank Penny, Patsy Cline, Hank Thompson, Don Gibson, Tex Williams et al. With such an established line-up there’s much quality on offer, not to mention compelling narration via excellent ‘Hadacillin Boogie’ from the quick tongue of Hank Penny, to Johnny Bond with ‘Sick, Sober And Sorry’. The country music is often lively and upbeat but with lyrics that often reflect opposite emotions such as The Singing Rangers & His Rainbow Ranch Boys ‘Can’t Have You Blues’ or Gene O’Quin with ‘I Get The Blues’. Standout track goes to Wade Ray and ‘Idaho Red’ complete with backing singers and handclaps that are simply irresistible! Overall, this is a GREAT entry point for those looking for some genuine foundations of the artists who represented the developing country sounds.


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Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.6

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Another volume in the Southern Bred series arrives and this time focus is given to the region of Texas and those “R&B Rockers” who plied their trade there. With the by now obligatory twenty-eight tracks featuring established artists in addition to those lesser known, the quality has been consistently high throughout this series to date. The sixth volume shows no signs of faltering regarding such standards with Little Esther offering her interpretation of classic ‘Hound Dog’ that gets this album off to a flyer. From then on, the quality of rhythm and blues continues to ascend skywards with Joe Tex (‘She’s Mine’), Little Willie Littlefield (‘Rockin’ Chair Mama’) and his rockin’ piano that most likely sparked Jerry Lee Lewis’s interest in the instrument judging by the similarities, and the smooth ride, complemented with additional handclaps, of The Medallions’ ‘Buick ‘59’. There is a real sense of optimism to the majority of tracks presented here, where rhythms are often lively as portrayed by the saxophone of King Curtis and ‘Rockabye Baby’, to the bigger sounding ‘Shake, Pretty Baby, Shake’ of Eddie ‘Tex’ Curtis & His Orchestra, and hotly pursued by piano-pumpin’ ‘Amos’ Boogie’ (Amos Milburn) and too hot to handle ‘That’s What You Think’ by Freddy King. It’s The Medallions, once more, who provide much to smile about when it comes to this latest compilation with their inventive presentation of ‘Speedin’, in addition to superb vocals from Fluffy Hunter during ‘The Walkin’ Blues (Walk Right In, Walk Right Out)’ with musical accompaniment supplied via Jesse Powell Orchestra which, along with the rest of the artists representing this latest volume, leaves a huge task to fill when the next album in this series arrives in terms of matching the astounding selection of ‘Southern Bred: Texas R&B Rockers Vol.6’.


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Blues For Mother Earth / Freak Knowledge

the Harvey Steel show

Sell Out! Music

Arriving in the form of two albums, yet packaged as a single release, are the brand-new offerings from the Harvey Steel show. Leading the way from Norway when it comes to raising awareness of social, political and environmental issues via their brand of DIY psychedelic folk art rock or whatever label one deems fit to apply to the band’s musical creations, the Harvey Steel show continue their musical exploration with a vinyl edition presented as a double A-side showcasing ‘Blues For Mother Earth’ and ‘Freak Knowledge’. Running first with ‘Blues For Mother Earth’, this side of the album reveals contents lighter in textures of folk, jazz and acoustic rock that eventually make their way to its centre masterpiece, and that being the album’s title track. Unfolding in 14 minutes, ‘Blues For Mother’ (track) goes through musical transitions involving folk and near gospel, to orchestrated jazz and breaks of psychedelic rock that remain under control nearing its conclusion. Lyrically, the song is worth adhering to if the present stranglehold of environmental pollution is ever going to be resolved. “Snap, snap, snap,” goes the flipside ‘Freak Knowledge’ that maintains the same A-sided status as ‘Blues For Mother Earth’ yet is the more aggressive sibling of the two. That’s not to say that we’re entering post-punk territory here, far from it, more that ‘Freak Knowledge’ is a little rougher around its edges as it pays its respects to those free spirits of this world prepared to open their minds and buck the norm of following trends. The Harvey Steel show certainly open their DIY box of creativity where blues, jazz and garage rock are on the menu. Former single, ‘Honey Voodoo’ is one such candidate that fits such a description as everything but the kitchen sink gets tossed in where, for example, you’ll hear more than one set of drums, distorted bass, harmonica, keys, saxophones, strings, vocal harmonies and an overload of guitars. Compelling chaos in other words. Less is also more here, with songs more concise as the short-sharp stabbing rhythm of ‘Artsy Crocodile’ with its protest-sounding vocals and bluesy harmonica are a match made in heaven, and one that would make PJ Harvey proud. There is only one way for the Harvey Steel show to go, and that is to continue pursuing their own musical destiny because this double A-side long player is a triumph.


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Popcorn Blues Party Vol. 2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Beginning a new series on Koko Mojo is ‘Popcorn Blues Party’. With volume two arriving fresh for review, the numerous artists featured are handpicked by the Mojo Man himself (aka Little Victor) and with all tracks receiving the remastering treatment, there’s much care and attention to detail given. Originating from the land of Belgium, the Popcorn genre as it is known 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. Therefore what the listener can expect with the current album in this brand new series are such atmospheric slow burners as ‘My Baby’ performed by Nappy Brown, to infectious grooves with a slightly higher tempo as Bo Diddley’s ‘I Can Tell’, ‘Had You Told It Like It Was’ (Albert King) and ‘Icy Groove’ via Albert Collins. In fact, the entire long player is an eclectic mix of styles where one moment songs are pounding out rhythms via bongos and blues harmonica (‘Made It Up In Your Mind’) and the next slinking along to a forceful rhythm and blues beat and largely aided by convincing vocals from Piney Brown during ‘Sugar In My Tea (Cream In My Coffee). It’s the slower tempo songs that appeal most, especially when both music and vocal deliveries equally match one another, but that’s taking nothing away from what is an interesting and very engaging compilation of a genre that has much to offer.


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Blink Before Christmas

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Arriving just in time for Christmas is the compilation ‘Blink Before Christmas’ from Koko Mojo. With a series of songs based on the usual and not so usual yuletide themes, and backed with traditional rhythm and blues, the thirty tracks selected offer much choice. From happy beginnings via James “Sugar Boy” Crawford and ‘White Christmas’, to humorous tale of an inebriated ‘Santa Claus Came Home Drunk’ by Clyde Lasley, ‘Blink Before Christmas’ immediately suggests not only a carefully selected playlist but one that will deviate from the norm to provide a different perspective of the Christmas festivities. With big names offering their musical wares such as B.B. King (‘Christmas Celebration’), Louis Armstrong (‘Zat You, Santa Claus?’), to superbly told narratives involving ‘Santa’s Secret’ (Johnny & Slam) and a rockin’ Santa Claus as featured by The Voices’ ‘Santa Claus Boogie’ and Babs Gonzales ‘Rock and Roll Santa Claus’. However, the main present arrives during delightful talkie that is the album’s title track, compellingly told by Phil Moore, making this a truly wonderful Christmas present for any record collection.


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The Twelve Rockin’ Days Of Christmas

Various Artists

Atomicat

Labelled ‘The Grown-Up Christmas’, ‘The Twelve Rockin’ Days Of Christmas’ is an apt description considering the period of the music selected that’s not going to appeal to your average teenager in the current scheme of things. The millennials loss is the “grown-ups” gain as ‘The Twelve Rockin’ Days Of Christmas’ unveils a combination of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues just in time for the festive season. Take your pick from such rockin’ delights featuring The Sabers’ ‘A Cool, Cool Christmas’ that is a cool swinging rhythm and blues sound, ditto Otis Williams and His Charms ‘Little Turtle Dove’, to the blues guitars of The Jive-A-Tones’ ‘Wild Bird’ and perky ‘Reindeer Rock’ via The Sportsmen. A smooth compelling tone arrives via Big Joe Turner with ‘Christmas Date Boogie’, and Tiny Topsy’s ‘Ring Around My Finger’ sounds larger than the performer behind it. A different version of ‘Rocking Goose’ arrives by Steve Stannard but, unfortunately, it’s the song rather than any artist behind it that grates, with the same fate falling to Bobby Helms’ ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’. Fortunately, there’s much to feel merry about with this compilation with a string of country influenced songs from Hank Snow ‘Reindeer Boogie’, Reece Shipley & The Rainbow Valley Boys’ ‘Milk Bucket Boogie’, before flicking the switch back to normal service of stonking rhythm and blues from Jack Hammer and ‘Girl, Girl, Girl’.


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When The Clock Chimes Twelve

Various Artists

Atomicat

Making early preparations for the festivities that lie in wait is the new compilation from Atomicat ‘When The Clock Chimes Twelve’. Featuring various artists from the 50s such as Sonny Burgess, Etta James and Ray Charles among others, the celebratory feel of the music is what you’d expect this time of year but there’s plenty to suggest that it’s far from predictable. With the likes of Link Ray & His Wraymen’s compelling yet far from high on celebrations ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby’, to Bob And Lucille’s emotionally distraught ‘Demon Lover’, and further enhanced by Big Mama Thornton’s roaring vocals during ‘I Smell A Rat’, this compilation is definitely for a party with a difference! Engaging from start to finish, ‘When The Clock Chimes Twelve’ offers so much choice and variation while remaining loyal to the genres of rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues and providing some real gems from previously mentioned Sonny Burgess (‘Ain’t Got A Thing’), Red Smiley & The Vel-Tones featuring Clint West and track, ‘Take A Ride’. If you want true celebration, then look no further than ‘Hand Clappin’ Time’ supplied by Gino with Johnny Greek. For those looking for a soundtrack with a difference to fuel a party with a difference, ‘When The Clock Chimes Twelve’ is worth obtaining.


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Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.5

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Helping to spread the gospel when it comes to traditional blues and rhythm and blues is the latest edition of ‘Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.5’. Stretching out its creative offerings with twenty-eight tracks, volume five opens its account with a sure-fire winner by Little Junior Parker & His Blue Flames and ‘My Baby’. The setlist continues to impress and largely with familiar pickings from Bo Diddley and super raucous ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’, to lovely skeletal delivery from Rufus Thomas and ‘Bear Cat’. Then it’s a toss of a coin, not as a means of deciding where, if any, the strengths and weaknesses lie, more in terms of the lesser known artists rubbing shoulders with the more established. The quality in music never deteriorates as a result of this where Wolf Call Boogie provides the diamond in the pack in a compelling style of rambling blues, vocals and words via ‘Hot Shot Love’, to what sounds like it’s coming from a tiny transistor radio from Snooky Pryor with ‘Boogie Twist’, and then delivering on all levels with quality offerings from Sam Cooke (‘Mary, Mary Lou’), Otis Rush (‘Satisfied’) and B.B. King ‘Bim Bam’. Another volume and another successful formula of blues and rhythm and blues as far as ‘Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.5’ goes.


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Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.4

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Lining up for round four of the so far impressive series is ‘Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol. 4’. With a massive twenty-eight tracks to contend with, volume four of this series others a mixture of established names who graced these genres as well as those lost to obscurity. Tending to shuffle the pack when listening to such compilations, instant fixes soon arrive via the excellent rhythm and blues of Little Johnny Jones And The Chicago Hound Dogs with ‘I May Be Wrong’, to the harmonica-filled ‘Shake -A- My Hand’ and more than qualified Doctor Ross. Other delights springing from the grooves of this long player can be found via impatient and punchy rhythm of Magic Sam’s ‘Love Me With A Feeling’, and then solid ‘Built For Comfort’ by Willie Dixon who also applies a touch of class during ‘Slim’s Thing’ that’s peppered with jazz influences. There’s room for the female artists as well with Betty Everett providing fine vocals on ‘My Love’, to an altogether different yet equally stunning vocal delivery from Howlin’ Wolf that sounds dipped in a combined pot of treacle and bourbon and coming up with ‘Wang-Dang-Doodle’ for example. There’s not a dud track to be had here as the various artists selected for ‘Southern Bred: Mississippi R&B Rockers Vol.4’ maintain a high level of quality via a mixture of blues and rhythm and blues.



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