Album Reviews

Filter :

Released Out now

 

I’m A Woman: Underestimation Is A Bad Mistake

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Feel free to arrive at your own conclusion, but much truth can be gleaned from latest compilation in the Koko Mojo rhythm and blues series where the female voice gets a chance to shine and offer a reminder to those who thought it was all about the boys showing the rest of us how to rock. Think again as ‘I’m A Woman: Underestimation Is A Bad Mistake’ provides enough clues by its title alone, but it is the music that speaks volumes. There are songs reflecting on love with Donna Hightower coming up with the sassy rhythm and blues ‘He’s My Baby’, followed appropriately with high-spirited numbers ‘I Feel Like A Million’ (Mamie Bradley) and ‘My Man’ (Dolly Cooper). Jealousy runs its course, as do feelings of loss and regret with compelling examples provided by Varetta Dillard, Irma Thomas and Little Mary. Highlight of the album, however, is reserved for the earth tremor of ‘Fast Life’ with Bonnie ‘Bombshell’ Lee’s vocals shaking the very foundations of this compilation. With a fine wit, and showing great respect in the liner notes by Little Victor, ‘I’m A Woman: Underestimation Is A Bad Mistake’ is an album all rockin’ fans should own as it serves not only as a perfect example of genuine talent at work, but also serves as an important reminder that female artists of the 50s were on a par with their male counterparts, despite less coverage. Underestimation is indeed a bad mistake to make.


Released Out now

 

When You Find Love You’re Feelin’ Good

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Setting up for a theme focusing on love is the latest compilation from Koko Mojo Records, ‘When You Find Love You’re Feelin’ Good’. Filled with a whopping twenty-eight tracks and featuring some well-known names as The Cadillacs, Little Junior Parker, Clyde McPhatter and Howlin’ Wolf. Considering the established stars here, the music is of a consistent quality of mainly rhythm and blues and doo-wop. If you’re searching for such reassurance, then Little Junior Parker’s toss of a coin ‘Feelin’ Good’ and ‘Feelin’ Bad’, more or less bookending each side of this compilation, is up there with the best of them; a delicious combination of running word commentary and vocals to melt the coldest of hearts, not to mention the pinpoint blues sound that gives a simplistic impression in terms of its delivery yet is far from any such notion. Tracks of the album with no hesitation. Of course, the abundance of music on offer provides more than enough runners to shade second place including The Jive Five’s energetic ‘Do You Hear Wedding Bells’, rockn’ blues of J.B. Lenoir’s ‘I Have Married’, fine rhythm and blues of ‘Crazy Bells’ courtesy of Julie Stevens and the Premiers, and topped off with compelling and altogether different approach of ‘Wedding Boogie’ via the Johnny Otis Congregation. Just don’t expect the positive feelings to last however, as the downturn in emotions tumbles sharply but the quality remains on high when you’ve got Roy Hamilton’s golden vocals on your side!


Released Out now

 

Sputnik Dance: Wild Sounds From Outer Space

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Hailing the Sputnik Dance is the newest compiled album of blues and rhythm and blues from Koko Mojo. With twenty-eight tracks transmitting from outer space and back down to planet Earth via a vintage setup that predates any modern-day era technology (thankfully!), the nature of the tracks is naturally space themed. With fascinating storytelling and humour found in the lyrics, not to mention exhilarating rhythms, ‘Sputnik Dance: Wild Sounds From Outer Space’ is a joyous ride. For those looking for an instant fix, look no further than the wild blast ‘Gonna Get Me A Satellite’ (Little Ernest Tucker). The title track is a compelling groove of traditional rhythm and blues supplied by The Equadors and followed by the smooth as silk ‘Rocket Ship’ from Vernon Green. Balancing such tracks with a few rougher edges is the blues stomp ‘Into orbit’ by Johnny Acey, and then continued by a rockin’ ‘Satellite Fever’ via Paul Perryman. By adding to the mix oddball moments as ‘Marty On Planet Mars Pt.1’ (Marty), and Buchanan and Goodman’s ‘The Flying Saucer Pt.1’ draws on the 50’s preoccupation with UFOs and space travel, in addition to providing examples of the colourful imagination of this time. Full of brass is the excellent ‘Destination 2165’ from The Cues, proceeded by, and showing great variation with super skilful delivery, ‘Weightless Blues’ with Jimmie Haskel creating a piece of magic. ‘Sputnik Dance’, the album, is a treasure-trove of musical delights where variation is key, not to mention quality of artists chosen for this compilation.


Released Out now

 

Fighting Fire With Gasoline

The Kokomo Kings

Rhythm Bomb

Fighting fire with fire, or in this instance gasoline, is all in a day’s work if you’re The Kokomo Kings. Made up of a contingent of Swedish and Danish musicians, The Kokomo Kings has been delivering its raw authentic blues sound for a few years now. Having established a healthy fanbase throughout Europe after several years performing at numerous bars and clubs on the rockin’ circuit, The Kokomo Kings make a fresh return with album number three ‘Fighting Fire With Gasoline’. With the band now consisting of members Ronni Busack-Boysen (guitar/maracas), Daniel Winerö (drums), Martin Abrahamsson (vocals/guitar) and Magnus Lanshammar (bass/guitar), having seen the departure of founding member Harmonica Sam, The Kokomo Kings has certainly not discarded its winning formula of raw energised blues. With all songs written by Magnus Lanshammar who has a way with words with interesting alternatives to the male – female dynamics of relationships by providing considerable thought via the likes of ‘Tied To The Tracks’ where the male central figure is at the mercy of his beloved sweetheart, or simply out of luck during ‘The Fish Won’t Bite’ and ‘The Rich Man’s Pocket’. The song writing also knows when to have fun such as ‘A Big Pile of Fish’, which bathes in a shimmering blues boogie and something The Rolling Stones would be proud to claim as their own composition such are the similarities. But with the album kicking off on a more familiar raw and rockin’ blues note – ‘The More I Get, The More I Want’ – that states its intentions judging by the forcefulness of its rhythm, The Kokomo Kings weave a heady spell here that continues in similar vein via ‘Tornadohead’ and ‘I Thought I Was A Patient Man’. In fact, it’s this last track referenced here that gives way to the pensive nature of the majority of the lyrics that is worrying about its present as well as its future, and this is something that sets The Kokomo Kings apart from its rivals by some considerable distance.


Released Out now

 

Southern Bred Vol. 2 – Mississippi R & B Rockers

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

What begins in charming fashion where blues was raw and rickety with plenty of  evidence supplied by the ilk of Robert Johnson (‘Preaching Blues’), Charley Booker (‘Charley’s Boogie Woogie’) and a truly acidic turn from Boyd Gilmore (‘All In My Dreams’), the change in style(s) soon gathers pace where the songs begin to add a few more layers and a touch of polish. With ‘Southern Bred Vol. 2 – Mississippi R& B Rockers’ this is exactly what the listener can expect once the aforementioned Robert Johnson opens this particular account and followed by a few musicians offering their take on an early blues sound, before the musical adventure begins to develop more of a rhythm and blues theme that takes in a variety of artists who compel the senses in their own unique ways. For example, one moment BB King is in thrilling mood with his exhilarating ‘BB’s Boogie’ and the next the lesser known (to these ears anyway) Cleo Brown provides a female interpretation via the neat and tidy shuffle, not to mention sophisticated, ‘(Lookie Lookie Lookie) Here Comes Cookie’. That said, there are plenty of well-known names littered throughout this excellent compilation with the likes of Bo Didley appearing with ‘Sixteen Tons’ and a clear candidate for influencing The Rolling Stones, and Eddie Clearwater providing a fuller and rockin’ performance with ‘Hey Bernardine’. The primitive blues sound never strays completely as Big Joe Williams and His 9 String Guitar demonstrate with the basic nuts and bolts of ‘Juanita’. A thoroughly engaging compilation that briefly traces examples of early blues before opening up to a more developed sound consisting of rhythm and blues, ‘Southern Bred Vol. 2 – Mississippi R& B Rockers’ is a good introduction to a vast scene of artists who left their marks through time and will lead to further investigation once these particular songs get under your skin.


Released Out now

 

Southern Bred Vol. 1 – Mississippi R & B Rockers

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Welcome to the wonderful world of snap, crackle and pop! Such is the introduction to the first volume in the ‘Southern Bred’ series where blues and rhythm and blues from a distant past is given a fresh airing in the present via Koko Mojo. With this initial volume offering an insight into the workings of a small handful of artists such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup et al, it is Willie Love and His Three Aces who receive the honour of opening this particular account and, in the process, provide a piano lesson that sounds somewhat ghostly given the age of this series via ‘My Own Boogie’. In fact, the passion for Willie Love continues as he makes an appearance during Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Stop Now Baby’ and then showing up again at various points with, for example, His Three Aces and the cryptic title of ‘Feed My Body To The Fishes’ that sounds like redemption to these ears. Big Joe Williams ‘She Left Me A Mule’ is a compelling listen with its simplicity of sound and down on its luck tale. Such thoughts also apply to Elmore James with Sonny Boy Williamson where the combined use of slide guitar and harmonica have no problems coming up with the required ‘Dust My Broom’. By focusing on a select group of artists provides a different angle to previous compilations released by this record label where volume one in this series focuses strongly on an early blues sound that will have you hooked from start to finish.


Released Out now

 

Geechie Goomie: Rhythm and Blues Gone Caribbean

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A clutch of sophisticated tracks has been chosen for this compilation album consisting of various artists that make up this rather cool and collected long player by the name of ‘Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’. From the off Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’ will appeal to the vinyl connoisseurs among us due to its 10” album format. Despite the appealing presentation of this LP package, it remains the contents inside that rightly attracts the most attention, and for good reason, when blessed with Latin American influences via the moving upbeat tempos of ‘Voodoo’ supplied by Red Callender Sextet and wild and carefree rhythm of Chris Powell & His Blue Flames’ ‘I Come For Jamaica’, with both songs receiving extra points for their use of brass instrumentation. Providing sterling jobs elsewhere are back-to-back numbers ‘Within This Heart of Mine’ and ‘Where Were You’ where the vocal performances of Camille Howard and Jimmy Rushing respectively shine the brightest. Such feats are repeated via the smooth running of The Talbot Brothers of Bermuda and ‘Bermuda Buggy Ride’ and, always reliable, Dave Bartholomew & His Orchestra with ‘Cat Music’. Brimming with ideas and possessing a real vigour as far as many of the rhythms go, ‘Geechie Goomie: Rhythm & Blues Gone Caribbean’ is a record to get lost in as well as appreciate for its sheer sense of class.


Released Out now

 

Pretty Little Horses

The Oldtime Stringband

The Oldtime Stringband

There’s an old-time feel to the music stemming from the Netherlands these days. Well, if your band’s moniker is The Oldtime Stringband that is. With the living and recording quarters situated somewhere in the vicinity of Amsterdam, The Oldtime Stringband has developed an authentic take on bluegrass music with links to Americana and folk seeping into the mix as well. With three previous albums to their name and originally “…formed as a musical backdrop to a documentary about the cow-painter, Ruud Spil”, The Oldtime Stringband issue a fourth album by the name of ‘Pretty Little Horses’. Beginning with ‘Cluck Ol’ Hen’ and followed by ‘Old Yeller Dog’, the scene is set for tiny outpost communities situated in the outback (of your choosing) where lands are worked by day and music, storytelling and consumption of the local hooch are partaken in by night. The aforementioned song duo really brings to the fore The Oldtime Stringband’s qualities for delivering a genuine old-time sound that could be playing to an audience during the 1700s or earlier such is the attention to detail where the focus is bluegrass with heavy folk leanings. From such a latter reference, the album’s title track is traditional folk and performed as a lullaby with beautiful, tender vocals supplied by Shelly O’Day and supported by the faintest trimmings of acoustic guitar, mandolin, upright bass and banjo. It’s the jewel in the crown here! Elsewhere, the four-piece band deliver a fine instrumental with ‘White Face’, and then follow with the warm and full of character ‘Old Man At The Mill’, before concluding with ‘Long Black Veil’; a reflective and tearstained duet delivered with conviction. A fine end to a more than fine album that sees The Oldtime Stringband firing on all cylinders.


Released Out now

 

Love Is A 4 Letter Word (Single)

Joakim Tinderholt & His Band

Rhythm Bomb

Bringing the blues and rhythm and blues sound up to date, yet retaining a strictly vintage sound, is Joakim Tinderholt & His Band and their latest single ‘Love Is A 4 Letter Word’. With two long players to his name, this latest creation finds Tinderholt in tender mode with a nice, clever spin on the interpretation of the “…4 letter word” at the centre of this song. Strictly limited to 500 copies, those who’ve been following Joakim Tinderholt & His Band since their inception will be fully aware of the flipside to this 45” ‘You Gotta Do More’, which offers a powerhouse in the shape of the vocals with no suggestion of it working overtime. Supporting this natural talent is a crisp, lively beat that is rock ‘n’ roll tinged with blues. Naturally, comparisons will be made with that other major namesake JD McPherson, but if you can allow space for one more in your heart, then love is a 4-letter word in its truest form.


Released Out now

 

For Gangsters and Lovers (EP)

Johnny Guitar Watson

Koko Mojo

Coming out of Texas was the guitar maestro and singer Johnny Guitar Watson. Having started out learning to play the piano from a young age, Watson made the move to performing on guitar after his grandfather purchased said instrument when his grandson was eleven years old. However, despite the newfound love for guitar playing, it was the piano that provided Watson’s first breakthrough in terms of entering the music industry where he cut his first records for Federal (1952) under the moniker Young Johnny Watson. The “Guitar” segment entered Watson’s stage name once a screening of Joan Crawford’s ‘Johnny Guitar’ had been seen, and then subsequent releases for Class and King Records to name but two. He was renowned for his flamboyant styles of dress and wild antics on stage, which is not difficult to comprehend considering the varying styles presented via the EP ‘For Gangsters and Lovers’. While it’s a rhythm and blues and strong blues record, it remains the interesting way Johnny Guitar Watson trades these styles. For example, one moment it’s the rhythm and blues/rock ‘n’ roll mash up of ‘The Bear’ that grabs you by the shirt collar, then to be greeted by a laidback, heavy blues guitar during ‘She Moves Me’, which slowly gathers some momentum yet remains utterly compelling due in large to Watson’s ability to captivate one’s attention with his vocal. ‘Gangster of Love’ is universal knowledge by now and has lost none of its appeal. The final cut ‘Hot Little Mama’ is high on tension where you can hear Watson almost strangulating the neck of his guitar and living up to that “attacking style” he was renowned for. It’s a breath-taking finale and one that offers further evidence of the exciting talent that was Johnny Guitar Watson.


Released Out now

 

Larry Williams (EP)

Larry Williams

Koko Mojo

Giving the title of this record to its creator speaks volumes about the artist because there’s no real introduction required here as the singing talent that was Larry Williams should be known by all. Outside of the music and leading up to his introduction to the world of rock ‘n’ roll, Williams life was equally compelling as he dabbled in numerous illegal activities as well as serving as a chauffeur for then Speciality recording artist Little Richard. Captured on wax are four rock ‘n’ roll burners that clearly remind of the wild talent that was Larry Williams, but also serve as a reminder of the major success this artist experienced during the late 50s. It is the two leading tracks – ‘Short Fat Fanny’ and ‘Bony Maronie’ – that proved major breakthroughs for Williams, with both songs riding high on the R&B and pop charts. Following on from these two rockin’ numbers is the pick of a very fine crop with the molten hot ‘Slow Down’. Concluding this four-track EP is ‘Give Me Love’ that sounds cutting-edge for its time due to possessing early 60s influences before reaching that decade. The rest is history as far as the music career of Larry Williams is concerned as darker days ensued where the criminal underworld proved a bigger lure than securing future recording contracts once the doors of Speciality closed shut.


Released Out now

 

Sweet Thing

Bonita & The Blues Shacks

Rhythm Bomb

After a stint in the shade, Bonita & The Blues Shacks make a return with album number two. The latest creation ‘Sweet Thing’ arrives after the eponymously titled debut back in 2015 and continues with the same line up consisting of one of Europe’s finest, B. B. & The Blues Shacks and up-front Bonita supplying the vocals. With the new album being made up of carefully selected cover songs and original compositions, in addition to mixing up the overall rhythm and blues sound with elements of soul, jump blues and more traditional stylings, Bonita & The Blues Shacks really get to work with a total of sixteen tracks. From such mammoth pickings, it’s the opening ‘He Made A Woman Out Of Me’ that raises attention due to its leanings towards soul music and is a bold choice to begin with, and then followed by what sounds like a soul track judging by its title (‘Momma’s Goin’ Dancin’) lets the blues in via some deft guitar playing and adds the element of surprise. ‘Hottest Wings in Town’ continues the blues workout and offers a streetwise perspective both in sound and lyrics. There’s great duets to be had here as well with the engaging ‘So Close’, which happens to be one of their own, and then followed by the resurrected archive of ‘That’s My Baby’ rolled out in more traditional guise and all the better for it. It’s certainly a mixed bag of styles that flows throughout the album ‘Sweet Thing ‘and therefore offering something for all blues and rhythm and blues supporters, but when the traditional route is given some airtime, then it’s where Bonita & The Blues Shacks truly shine.



Back To Top