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Edge of Love (EP)

Lisa Redford

Bandcamp

These are exciting times for singer-songwriter Lisa Redford. With a new EP released by the name of ‘Edge of Love’, consisting of five tracks containing a blend of Americana, country, folk, soul and classic pop, the future certainly looks bright for the Norwich based artist. Despite any optimism felt in terms of the upward trajectory of the career of Lisa Redford, there are telling signs that all has not been well. The giveaway is the poignant quote adorning the new record sleeve where, “Tears are words that need to be written,” (Paulo Coelho). Seemingly taking this onboard, one of the UK’s closest exports to creating an authentic country sound projects such sadness through the songs gracing ‘Edge of Love’. It all begins with ‘Anything But Easy’ that is similar in style to Redford’s earlier release ‘Another Place and Time’ where the tempo is upbeat, yet lyrics reveal the complexities of an intimate relationship. The EP’s title track is a stirring ballad and one that casts a shadow over the subject matter as it approaches with caution and given further emphasis by the musical accompaniment of piano, cello and compelling vocals. With this being the sole track to offer a hint of optimism as far as love is concerned, despite its reservations as well, the remaining songs depict breakdowns in communications and the inevitable demise of relationships only for the emotional tug-of-war to continue long after such events have died in the embers. Such examples are left to a couplet of ballads, ‘I Just Can’t Forget’, which has an atmosphere of country and soul, whereas ‘Alone Tonight’ is delicately played out via acoustic guitar and gorgeous vocals drawing the listener closer and closer to its beating heart. For our money though, the late-night draw of ‘Let Go’ wins hands down with its impression of attempting to win over a hardened crowd at the local honky-tonk via an abundance of harmonies and hooks (with special mention going to the pedal steel and 12-string Rickenbacker). With ‘Edge of Love’ apparently arriving at some personal costs and despite any suggestions of cracks appearing on its surface, there remains a heartbeat at the centre of this record because Lisa Redford (plus band) has made a rousing comeback that is likely to win over new supporters here as well as overseas.


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Combination Boogie

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Just as its title suggests, the tracks complied for this latest instalment in the Koko Mojo series consisting primarily of blues and old-fashioned rhythm and blues (the way it should be) is a combination of these two genres that do their upmost to maintain a rockin’ beat throughout. As with previous titles, the names littered here will be familiar to many (Arthur Crudup, Little Junior Parker, Big Al Downing, Bo Diddley et al) but there are many that will be less familiar (Alonzo Scales, Billy Boy, J. B. Lenoir et al). With any such lists being subjective to individual knowledge of course, the long list of artists given airtime during ‘Combination Boogie’ is a delight to behold. Kicking off with what sounds ramshackle at first yet develops into a full-blown gallop of rockin’ blues complete with harmonica is an early shot of medicine supplied by Doctor Ross and ‘Cat Squirrel’. Maintaining this lively start is the excellent ‘Goin’ Back Home’ by Cousin Leroy that is packed with details and suggests numerous paths this song could suddenly take off in such is the musicianship at the centre of this record. At other junctures you will find Silas Hogan giving a straight rendition (and one aided by the harmonica) with ‘Lonesome La La’, and then greeted by full band versions of Jimmy McCracklin ‘Gonna Tell Your Mother’ and Tender Slim ‘Don’t Cut Out On Me’. The combined blues and rhythm and blues, and not forgetting the dash of rock ‘n’ roll supplied on various occasions, ‘Combination Boogie’ is yet another reason to reach for this compilation series because once more it’s of the highest standard.


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Don’t Touch! (EP)

Andre Williams

Koko Mojo

A nicely packaged vinyl EP featuring four lesser-known tracks from self-proclaimed “performer” Andre Williams. Celebrated by a diverse range of artists including The Cramps and The John Spencer Blues Explosion amongst others and enjoying something of chequered career in and outside of music, Andre Williams is given a fresh platform by Koko Mojo Records. As mentioned, the four songs remain somewhat obscure when up against the likes of ‘Bacon Fat’, ‘Jailbait’ and ‘Pass The Biscuits, Please’. Having said that, the tracks selected for this EP release – ‘Don’t Touch’, ‘Hey Country Girl’, ‘Goin Down To Tia Juana’, ‘Just Want A Little Lovin’ are more conventional for the times because the previously mentioned tracks possessed qualities that suggested Williams was ahead of his time. Taking nothing away from the songs showcased here as they’re equally compelling with much vibrancy in the rhythms of the EP’s title track and pursuing ‘Hey Country Girl’, and then diversity given, along with a touch of sophistication, to the Latin influenced ‘Goin Down To Tia Juana’. Just edging it, however, is the closing ‘Just Want A Little Lovin’ that is most certainly raw yet suggestive of many things in terms of its approach that could be interpreted as near-drunken stupor yet equally confident in terms of its desires. It’s a thrilling finale to a thoroughly engaging EP.


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Cuttin’ With Joe Tex (EP)

Joe Tex

Koko Mojo

According to the liner notes rhythm and blues artist Joe Tex did not find success with his music until the year 1964. All prior attempts to make a breakthrough in the charts during the 1950s was greeted with a muted response apart from those who really appreciated the man’s singing and performing talents; most notably James Brown who, according to many people during the artists period at King Records, pilfered various dance manoeuvres including the microphone tricks, in addition to the “rapping” over the music from Joe Tex. Not to be hard done by though, Joe Tex persevered with his music by extending his talents to the song writing department as well as continuing his own path to break the charts. With four songs selected for this vinyl release, listeners can appreciate the impassioned vocal performances of the likes of ‘Davy, You Upset My Home’ and ‘Cut It Out’ where there is humour to be found in the former track yet jealousy has a habit of plaguing both songs. The tables are turned once ‘Open The Door’ makes its entrance with Joe Tex pleading for a second chance with vocals that can best be described on a par with the heat emanating from a blowtorch with both Little Richard and Jackie Wilson adding to the pressure. The influence of Little Richard can be heard during the closing ‘You Little Babyfaced Thing’ not only in Joe Tex’s voice, but also the pumpin’ piano and brass of this great rock ‘n’ roll number. Thankfully, Joe Tex managed to find success because it would have been a great injustice if the hits had eluded him judging by the quality on display here.


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This Is It! (EP)

Gene and Eunice

Koko Mojo

Described as ‘The Sweethearts of Rhythm and Blues’, Gene Wilson and Eunice Levy certainly lived up to such a description with the gentle way the four tracks selected for this vinyl EP play out. Having resided in Los Angeles, the singer-songwriter pairing, who also ended up dating for a period before tying the knot not too long after, recorded approximately a dozen songs and all their own making between 1954 – 1959. If you’re looking for a musical appetiser in the sense of something to whet the appetite before the main event, then ‘Bom Bom Lulu’ is that song with its lively yet gentle approach of rhythm and blues. In fact, the calmness in relation to the vocals is the essence of Gene Wilson and Eunice Levy who skilfully roundup any hints of rebellion breaking out via the instruments as the duo’s vocals dominate throughout. Such examples can be gleaned from the opening bustle of instrumentation of ‘Hootchy Kootchy’ that soon levels out once the vocals arrive, and then followed in similar fashion during ‘Go On Kokomo’. The final track gracing this EP is the excellent ‘Send Me Someone’ where you can hear the frustrations held in the vocals and therefore giving off a slightly rawer edge that benefits the EP overall. A genuine talented duo, Gene Wilson and Eunice Levy reveal four tracks that live up to such a reputation.


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Sugar Jump: Dance Til The Break Of Dawn!

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

There’s no better place to start than with Ray Charles classic, ‘Mess Around’, to set up what is (another) lively volume in this near perfect series. With the Mojo Man, as always, laying down his words of wisdom when it comes to the nature of the music and appropriate moves to accompany the often-traditional rhythm and blues doing its thing from the speakers, the latest in this long line of volumes is up there with the best. Largely down to shifting tones musically i.e. the bluesy roll of George Wild Child Butler’s midtempo shuffle ‘Jelly Jam’ from previously mentioned Ray Charles’ lively start, to stepping it up ever so slightly with “cool as” rhythm and blues sandwich (the blues providing the glue in the middle) via Fox Hall and ‘Do The Rock And Roll’. From there on, Clarence Samuels can barely contain his excitement as he sings from the rooftops once news reaches that, “We’re goin’ to the hop tonight,” which is followed by Doug Powell & The Valients irresistible ‘The Whip’, and then proceeded by the blissfully happy tongue twister ‘The Wiggle Waggle Woo’ (Sticks McGhee) and wonderfully tender ‘We’re Goin’ Out To Rock Tonight’ by Kine Morgan. As mentioned earlier, ‘Sugar Jump’ is among the best in its class when it comes to this series of rhythm and blues and remains on course for commanding pole position.


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Wild Life

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Full of forbidden fruits according to the Mojo Man, and he’s not far off with such an assessment as ‘Wild Life’ piles its way through twenty-eight dancefloor fillers. From top to toe these songs are rockin’ and a-reelin’ beginning with Chuck Cole and ‘My Bonny’, and followed by the perky rhythm that is full of brass instrumentation of excellent Lil Preacher Boy ‘Won’tcha Be My Girl’. There are some notable differences about this particular volume in the Koko Mojo series, and that stirs when Eddie Daniels throws up his rockin’ (roll) ‘Playin’ Hide Go Seek’, to the wonderfully appealing tin can atmosphere secured by ‘Love My Baby’, complete with raw guitar breaks and uncooked vocals of Jesse Allen (Well, it is the blues!). And that’s exactly why the album ‘Wild Life’ is so appealing for its rollercoaster approach that offers a menu of traditional rhythm and blues one minute (Redd Foxx ‘Real Pretty Mama’) and then, staying within the same genre, different takes where darker shades and eccentricities can be heard (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Ronnie Love and The Admiraltones for example). It’s a sublime compilation of well-thought out tracks that may sound on first impressions like a quickly assembled compilation, yet further listens will soon erase any such thoughts as ‘Wild Life’ lives up to its title and in different ways.


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Cat Scratchin’

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Stamping their identity all over this compilation album are the female singers of 50s and early 60s generations trying to make a name for themselves in a largely male dominated industry. What the listener will experience with ‘Cat Scratchin’ is a variety of songs, with a variety of styles that show flashes of sophistication and songs borne out of more primitive foundations. There’s plenty of attitude as well as honesty, not to mention a mental toughness as well as vulnerability that serves up a perfect balance of emotions. Most tracks give the suggestion of late 50s and early 60s periods in history with the rhythm and blues ranging from late-night torchbearers such as the excellent ‘Please Give Me A Match’ performed by Rebecca Williams, to the tub-thumping, boisterous racket that is ‘Holy Mack’reel’ from equally animated vocals of Prentice Moreland. More interestingly, a few of the songs selected by the female performers either perform still from a male perspective, such as the previously mentioned ‘Holy Mack’reel’, or elsewhere show signs of subtle changes via Geneva Vallier and her interpretation of Ray Charles’ I Got A Woman’ with ‘You Said You Had A Woman’. There’s plenty to take in with ‘Cat Scratchin’ from the near-ramshackle rhythm of ‘How Can I Lose’ (Shirley Ann Lee), to something far more ambitious sounding via the album’s title track by Marie Williams. A solid and worthwhile collection of songs that show the female artists certainly matched their male counterparts when it came to engage an audience (look no further than Peppy Prince and ‘Ain’t Nothing Shaking’ for immediate evidence of this) by revealing a variety of emotions that make up ‘Cat Scratchin’.


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Love Shock

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

It’s all about love as far as this volume is concerned in the Koko Mojo series that largely focuses on blues and rhythm and blues. With twenty-eight tracks to get its message across regarding the subject of love, ‘Love Shock’ is filled with the anticipations of love and any such joys stemming from this. You can hear it in some of the rhythms alone where they’re often light and upbeat such as Carl Matthews’ ‘Big Man’ or swirling on its toes in compelling fashion and providing something altogether quite different, yet still fitting in with this genre, via Stick Evans and ‘You’re The One’. The excitement can hardly be contained once The Devilles get underway with ‘Tell Me So’ where you will find a swinging rhythm complete with doo-wop backing vocals powering this number along. Falling under the spell here though is the wonderfully named Teddy Mr. Bear McRae and, pick of a very good bunch, ‘Hi Fi Baby’ that packs a confident punch of blues/rhythm and blues and matured bourbon-soaked vocals. Full of life and giddy at the prospect of love as well as being in love, the compilation ‘Love Shock’ is yet another strong statement of the quality held by this series.


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Coming Home

The Rob Ryan Roadshow

Rhythm Bomb

It’s been a few years since the last outing from The Rob Ryan Roadshow with their ‘Live At Montreux Jazz Festival’ long player. However, 2019 marks a fresh start for the band with their new album ‘Coming Home’, which is their first studio recording since 2014’s ‘Going Old School’. The latest album ‘Coming Home’ reveals the band at quite possibly their best and delivers their usual trademarks of skilful musicianship combined with versatility, not to mention a willingness to experiment when it comes to their decision-making. All such points are to be commended as The Rob Ryan Roadshow continue with such traits during ‘Coming Home’ where roots rock meets bluesy rhythms and country-fried grooves. This broad sourcing of influences is what sets the Rob Ryan Roadshow apart from several of their contemporaries and really sets the band out as something altogether different. In part, this is down to personal tastes of the band members where each bring their own musical influences to the creative table whether that be rockabilly, country, blues, pop or punk rock, it’s all in there, with some influences subtler than others. It’s also down to the cultural diversity within the band where America meets Germany for a jolly good knees up! By the sounds of it, such a combined mixture of styles and influences really has no right to work, but that’s exactly what occurs from start to finish during ‘Coming Home’. Whether it’s rolling out a blast of blues rock via ‘Blackout’, to rock combined with country of opening song ‘Free’ or swapping tempos for something beautiful and tender of country-tinged ballad ‘Let The Heartache Begin’, The Rob Ryan Roadshow tie their diverse influences together seamlessly. Throw in the band’s customary souvenir and own interpretation of a cover song or two, with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ being the standout here, suggests The Rob Ryan Roadshow has successfully brought all their influences home and managed a difficult task of melding these together into one accessible whole. ‘Coming Home’ works on all levels and earmarks The Rob Ryan Roadshow as a rather exceptional band.


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Jelly Roll Shuffle

The Jelly Roll Men

Rhythm Bomb

Norway is the destination and where you will find The Jelly Roll Men performing an old-school style of 50’s blues. Smart and stylish in appearance and with songs to match, The Jelly Roll Men unroll a lengthy album consisting of fourteen tracks of originals and covers. The whole album makes for fascinating listening where songs really transport the listener back to a period where song titles such as ‘Date Bait’, ’36-24-38’ and ‘Pontiac Blues’ were befitting of such a time in history (see above) but no longer translate in the modern age for numerous reasons. That is not to say there’s no home for The Jelly Roll Men and their ‘Jelly Roll Shuffle’ in the present, in fact far from it because it remains a delight to have these four musicians, suitably accompanied by fellow blues artist Little Victor operating on production in addition to occasional vocals and guitars, serving up a reminder of traditional blues music where the instrumentation could be slick, just as it could be raw, and the mood often down in the gutter where relationships have long since departed. The album, ‘Jelly Roll Shuffle’, shows enough signs of all such ingredients from ‘Date Bait’s’ initially raw chiming guitar before leading on to something far more sophisticated, to really burnt, scorched sounding tracks (excellently demonstrated by guitars, harmonica and piano) of ‘Rockin’ and ‘Murder My Baby’. Add to this creative melting pot the vocal stylings of Kent Erik who delivers convincing performances during the likes of ‘I’m Tired’ and ‘Come Back Home To Me’ to name but two tracks where genuine signs of vulnerability surface. It all makes for fascinating listening as said earlier, and just happens to be rolled (Sorry!) in to a complete whole that is ‘Jelly Roll Shuffle’.


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Don’t Mess With Me, Baby

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The theme of this compilation album of known and lesser known rhythm and blues performers appears to focus on the notion of the blues making itself known whether you’re in relationship or without a relationship. Those suffering from such symptoms can comfort themselves a little once it is known that the blues expressed here started a long, long time ago, in fact, from the beginning of time according to the scribblings of Little Victor“…the eternal LOVE-HATE relationship between men and women that started with Adam and Eve at the Garden of Eden…” But rest assured dear listeners as the songs contained within are full of upbeat rhythms and built for those who like to shake their limbs across the (fifties) dancefloors. ‘Don’t Mess With Me Baby’ is packed with a lively set of songs that opens confidently via the instructions of Bull Moose Jackson and ‘Watch My Signals’, to wild and often sax-driven tracks as ‘She Walked In’ (Morris Pejoe) and Rufus Brown with ‘Keep A Knockin’. With full accompaniment of instruments supporting many of the contents of ‘Don’t Mess With Me, Baby’, the songs listed have certainly moved on from their earlier and more primitive foundations. This is largely noticeable from the fuller sounds as mentioned, but also for the charismatic turns in vocal performances that range in styles where confidence is on full display despite lyrics of despair (i.e. King Perry with ‘Come Back Baby’) to other moments that reveal vocal turns that contain shades of light and dark and superbly demonstrated by Larry Ellison & The Mark IV (‘Young Girls’). So, if you’re suffering from a bout of the blues, then ‘Don’t Mess With Me, Baby’ is the perfect place to find a remedy.



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