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Whip Masters Instrumentals Vol.2

Various Artists

Atomicat

The first volume in this new addition to the Atomicat label proved a resounding success with a variety of instrumental tracks from rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll and surf rock. Volume 2 of ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals’ looks set to follow in its footsteps, but with even greater wildness given some of its description: “There is nothing sweet and innocent within this album, it’s packed with attitude for bad boys and girls!”. To live up to such a message, ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals Volume 2’ has plenty of opportunity to do so given its track list containing an impressive total of thirty songs. Demonstrating such wildness in sound is the opening salvo ‘Tomahawk’ by Teddy and The Rough Riders, and then followed by the consistently reliable ‘Tornados with ‘Scalping Party’, which is not for the fainthearted given its hollering screams adding to the tension found in its guitars and suggestive of early punk rock. Variety is certainly the spice here as there are variations between each instrumental with examples as Latino-influenced The Royaltones’ ‘Tacos’, to blending of hot rod and surf music instrumental from wild in name and sound Johnny Zorro and ‘Road Hog’ (Listen out for that red-hot saxophone by the way!).  With The Champs in highly creative mode during ‘Panic Button’ where the musical notes genuinely give the impression of trying to explain its identity without the use of words, and the second album in the ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals’ series more than matches its debut when it comes to thrills and spills and seriously great music.


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Boss Black Rockers Vol. 10 Eeny Meeny Minie Moe

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

OK, let’s begin by mentioning what an exhilarating series ‘Boss Black Rockers’ has been. A comprehensive look at a variety of black artists making their marks on an often-perceived genre of music thought as being the domain of white musicians only. Think again. This is where history truly comes alive and reveals its hunger and passion for music and particularly rock ‘n’ roll music, but one featuring numerous black rock and rollers who tore up the scene with bouts of wild rock ‘n’ roll music. Given the research conducted for this album series, there is much to consume with many unknowns rubbing shoulders with established artists. This makes for interesting listening especially given the rhythm and blues of opening song ‘You Made A BooBoo’ from Bob and Earl that whilst not rock ‘n’ roll, it’s certainly the beginning of this genre. Big Boy Myles & The ShawWees’ ‘The Girl I Married’ is more in line with the definition of rock ‘n’ roll with its lively guitar stealing the limelight. In other places expect to hear some punchy brass fuelling Elton Anderson’s ‘I Love You’, and later a grizzly turn from King Coleman with ‘Black Bottom Blues’. The inclusion of Richard Berry and track ‘Yama Yama Pretty Mama’ shows off the versatility of this performer considering his presence during other compilations from Koko Mojo and perhaps time for an album of his own?  The Cadillacs really turn up the heat during ‘Holy Smoke Baby’, and equally Al Garris ‘That’s All’ with gruff vocals, parping saxophone, and what sounds like an improvised turn from the piano given its free-flowing pattern. In fact, a perfect place to step off and look back over the complete ‘Boss Black Rockers’ series because volume ten ties up any loose ends and packs a powerful punch in many of its songs that says nothing but these ‘Boss Black Rockers’ certainly knew how to rock and roll.


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Beware The Sleepwalking Woman

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Making the right decision to resurrect the rhythm and blues series on Koko Mojo sees another album in quick succession after previous ‘Do It Up Right’. This time around the album features a collection of “novelty” songs from the Golden Age of American Music. In addition to the black musicians featured here, the creator responsible for this compilation i.e., the Mojo Man made the decision to include white artist Stan Freberg and his version of doo wop smash ‘Sh-Boom’. The reason for the inclusion is not only for his admiration of this particular version, but also the fact that African Americans were also buying records by white artists such as Freberg. With the music being the main focus, the list of tracks features plenty of names that will be unknown to a few music collectors. That’s the beauty with such albums and especially with ‘Beware The Sleepwalking Woman’ where you have wild rocker Esquerita and ‘Esquerita and The Voola’, Bo Diddley (‘Say Man’), and Huey “Piano” Smith and His Clowns (‘Beatnik Blues’) one moment and then fewer household names the next with Big Bob Kornegay (‘The Man In The Phone Booth’) and Yochanan (‘Hot Skillet Mama’). A genuine mixture of interesting oddities where paranoia seems to be lurking via formerly mentioned Big Bob Kornegay and song ‘The Man In The Phone Booth’, to intriguing moniker Pig Meat Markham and ‘Your Wires Have Been Tapped’. But it’s also the manner in which some of these songs are presented with compelling spoken word of ‘Stranded In The Jungle’ by The Jayhawks, similarly but far slicker Dr. Horse ‘Jack, That Cat Was Clean’ and fantastic storytelling by Boogaloo and His Gallant Crew with ‘Cops and Robbers’. In fact, the whole album smacks of originality from clever cutting and pasting of tracks of the era during ‘The Old Sparrow’ from Dave and Bob to genuine oddity ‘Hot Skillet Mama’ from earlier mentioned Yochanan who makes Screamin’ Jay Hawkins sound relatively normal. A fantastic album with a treasure trove of songs that will require some serious crate digging to find these gems.


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The Mojo Man Special Volume 4: Voodoo Man

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Shaping up into what has been a very engaging series so far is ‘The Mojo Man Special’. Latest in this collection is ‘The Mojo Man Special Volume 4: Voodoo Man’ featuring twenty-four tracks of traditional rhythm and blues for both your dancing and listening pleasures. With Little Victor Mac at the centre of this series and in full control of song selections, the “Each and every tune here is a “fine frame, no part lame” platter that matters”, certainly rings true from previous listening of earlier volumes. It would appear that such words can be applied to Volume 4 once such choice cuts as excellent ‘Whatcha’ Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You’ from Chuck Willis to The Dodgers harmonious ‘Let’s Make A Whole Lotta Love’ tracks get underway. There are instrumentals from Rodney & The Blazers with ‘Oriental Nightmare’, which is a raw guitar affair complete with saxophone and filtering in oriental sounding effects. There are songs which can be applied to the current times from The Majestics performing with such great authority during ‘Hard Times’. The Nite Riders clear any fog with a wild rockin’ performance that is ‘Women And Cadillacs’, before Marie And Rex take over in similar manner with ‘I Can’t Sit Down’. It looks like the “Mojo” Man has done it again and worked the magic with an expert eye for detail and consideration of song inclusion because ‘The Mojo Man Special Volume 4: Voodoo Man’ is certainly a “platter that matters”!


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Rock And Roll Vixens #5

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Next in line of an exceptionally fine series is ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #5’. Showcasing all female talent from the 50s and early 60s, with the occasional inclusion of a surprise guest from more recent times yet sounding in line with said earlier periods, the album collection, ‘Rock And Roll Vixens’, has been an educational insight regarding blues and rhythm and blues Afro-American female musicians. Reaching #5 of this album series shows its popularity with those listening but also the wealth of talent that was present during these particular periods in music. Beginning with Dee Dee Warwick and ‘You’re No Good’ is full of vocal harmonies that drive its chugging rhythm. Similarly, the powerful tonsils of Fontella Bass keep the momentum going via excellent ‘My Good Loving’. There is more of a refined feel to the music during Hadda Brooks ‘Jump Back Honey’ with its stylish guitar licks, then leading up to sultry atmosphere of ‘Sugar Daddy’ from Priscilla Bowman. Further great highlights include the rhythm and blues of ‘Disgusted’ with Mabel Scott in determined mood. More bustling rhythm and blues follows with The Teen Queens’ ‘Rock Everybody’, The Hearts’ ‘Talk About Him, Girlie’ and Yvonne Fair & James Brown Band and song ‘I Found You’ making #5 in this series of albums just as essential as its predecessors and something that should not be missed. An important part of music’s history and the significant part African American women played in terms of blues and rhythm and blues with plenty of magical talent on display that is Rock And Roll Vixens.


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The Quarantine Tapes

Cat Lee King

Rhythm Bomb

Missing in action since the full debut ‘Cock Tales’ with his band Cat Lee King & His Cocks, band leader turns solo performer for latest creation ‘The Quarantine Tapes’. The clue is most definitely in the title of this brand-new album in terms of the conditions under which this record was written and recorded, and no doubt impacted on any decisions to venture this project alone given the necessity and restrictions of recent lockdowns. Despite these restrictions, Cat Lee King comes out on top with ‘The Quarantine Tapes’ in a combined track list of covers and self-penned songs. Choices of song inclusions are given via excellent reworkings of Hank Williams’ ‘Hey Good Lookin’ that reveals plenty of raw guitar and feint yet distinct background hollers, to equally compelling covers of ‘Ain’t Nobody’s Business’ featuring dextrous guitar work and eerily close to the original blues/rhythm and blues of ‘Meet Me Half Way’. Considering the DIY nature of this recording, Cat Lee King really shows off his musical chops by offering a musical class in different instrumentation, to overall production that provides no impression of this album being recorded “inhouse” given the often classic old-jazz clubhouse feel to most of the contents here. Special mention goes to those original compositions, particularly ‘Whoever Made You’; a warm jazz number with attractive supporting vocals (courtesy of his friends) complementing the deeper tones of the main man at the helm and that being none other than Cat Lee King. The platform is certainly there for Cat Lee King once the greenlight is given for all to venture outside, judging by the quality of ‘The Quarantine Tapes’ under current restrictions because the next creative output from Cat Lee King should be close to a masterpiece judging by the high quality evidenced here, and not forgetting the restraints of the underground conditions. Truly remarkable!


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Wine, Whiskey & Wimmen

Little Hat

Rhythm Bomb

Coming from the house of Rhythm Bomb Records is the debut record from the trio known as Little Hat. Despite this being a fresh line-up, Little Hat’s members including Machiel Meijers (vocals/harp), Blues Hall of Fame inductee (Netherlands) Willem Van Dullemen (guitar), and Paolo de Stigter (drums) possess enough musical nous between them to suggest the band has been active for a considerable number of years. Presenting their first album under the heading ‘Wine, Whiskey & Wimmen’ and containing a total of fourteen tracks of established and lesser-known blues songs, Little Hat get to work immediately via rockin’ blues opener ‘Clema’. It’s the rawness of Machiel Meijers’ vocal, sounding as if braised chiefly in blues music, but singed ever so slightly with the attitude of punk that immediately attracts attention and tugs at the senses, pulling you into this world of a well-worn rockin’ blues. It makes for a fantastic beginning, and one that only rises in temperature, and clearly demonstrated by the wild, swirling rock ‘n’ roll blues of ‘Cutie Named Judy’, which is considerably more accomplished than the ramshackle, yet still mightily compelling original from Jerry McCain & His Upstarts. The choice of covers reveals impeccable taste as Little Hat know a good song when they hear one and know how to move through the gears to provide variety. Maintaining the listener’s interest therefore are such examples as ‘Big John’, which performs to a strollin’, moody tempo illustrated by its use of harmonica and guitar, and then later much reflection given by way of ‘Ora Nelle Blues’ and superb guitar work. Continuing the joyous vein is the rollicking rhythm and humorous take that is ‘Gimme Me Back My Wig’, which is an audacious record given its original release date and one Little Hat give much respect to. There’s no finer place to discover a full house of raucous blues music with plenty of variation between these wilder cuts than from a modern band that sounds distinctly authentic during ‘Wine, Whiskey & Wimmen’.


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The One That Won’t (Single)

Three Star Riot

OWN LABEL

Fast becoming something of a favourite at Famous Last Words (FLW), and clearly showing signs of rising in stature is Three Star Riot. Swiftly moving on from last month’s digital single release ‘Golgotha’, latest offering ‘The One That Won’t’ sees the trio from Finland moving from first, to second, and now third base in rather quick succession as this new single is equally on par with its predecessor, but also unveils another facet of the band’s song writing. Playing to a similar beat, ‘The One That Won’t’ ticks all the right boxes as far as their punkabilly references go, with a fine melody woven into its fabric and a chorus that reveals links to their past with earlier line-up TimeKillers. Despite any similarities, its strengths are those moments where the pace of the rhythm diverts itself, and the lyrics make strong decisions about the direction this subject is heading. Already proving themselves to be a three-piece with more than one creative string to their bow, Three Star Riot is a band to keep a close watchful eye on judging by the compelling goodness of ‘The One That Won’t’.


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Koko Mojo Diner – Soul Food Volume 2

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Following on from Volume 1 in this new series ‘Koko Mojo Diner – Soul Food Volume 2’, there is much of the same goodness to be discovered for those looking for something a little different when it comes to compilation albums. With its focus on food, and particularly “soul food” originating from the diets of African Americans, the second instalment of this album series focuses on vegetarianism. As with Volume 1, there is a history lesson to be had with the liner notes detailing African Americans being dependent on “plant-based diets” due to meat being a luxury for impoverished individuals and families of America’s Deep South with slavery still in existence. Focusing on the contents of the music, then Volume 2 opens with a blast of jump blues via Wynonie Harris and ‘Git With The Grits’.  There is a charming ramshackle sound to Bill Parker and his Band and song ‘Sweet Potato’ with lyrics rotating around the subject of its title, and later Garry & Larry providing ‘Garlic Bread’, which really could be about waiting for that lovely loaf of goodness baking away in the oven or quite simply about any topic given it’s an instrumental. The Ink Spots sing about everyone’s sweet favourite with the irresistible doo-wop of ‘Do-Nuts’, not to mention other tempting treats by way of some beautiful vocals from Marvin & Johnny during ‘Cherry Pie’. Heading towards the finale of this compilation, not one but two compelling blues numbers are aired via Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee with ‘Custard Pie Blues’ and ‘Cornbread and Peas’, before switching to jazz/blues of Julia Lee & Her Boy Friends and healthy eating ‘The Spinach Song (I Didn’t Like It The First Time)’ which, musically, is instantly likeable compared to its subject matter. Another fine selection of tracks that are full of variety and will see many a return visit to this diner that is ‘Koko Mojo Diner – Soul Food Volume 2’.


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Do It Up Right

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Going back to where it all began for Koko Mojo with a new addition to their main blues and rhythm and blues series by way of new CD ‘Do It Up Right’. The obligatory twenty-eight tracks are in place and the listener will find much to enthuse over in terms of the track listing. With the focus being “Another blast from the past with cool axes at their best” (The Mojo Man), in other words the guitar, ‘Do It Up Right’ certainly sets out to highlight this instrument at its best. What is always appealing about this series is the unpredictability of some of the tracks selected, because it is never about stating the most obvious in each song and that is half of the attraction. Beginning with more of a wave bending, languid guitar walk is one such example from Guitar Tommy Moore And The 5 J’s and song ‘I Ain’t Bothering Nobody’. Despite the clear indicator held by the name, this utterly compelling opener is the first of many expressing the colour and details that this expressive instrument has to offer rather than being solely fixated with creating an overly loud racket. With this in mind, expect plenty of variations with the likes of Freddy King and instrumental ‘Just Pickin’, to relative calm offered by the album’s title track where both the vocals of Rene Hall and lead guitar equally dominate. Just simply littered with different interpretations where the guitar is concerned, ‘Do It Up Right’ offers a surf instrumental one moment via Mickey Baker and ‘Old Devil Moon’, before Willard Harris And The Czars Of Rhythm decides to ‘Straighten Up Baby’ with some traditional rhythm and blues, before passing on the baton to Girl Group The Lockettes and ‘Puddin’ Pie’. Furthermore, there is a reliable pair of hands in John Lee Hooker with ‘You Can Lead Me Baby’. Judging by the strong selection of tracks complied for ‘Do It Up Right’, any decision to revive this series was certainly wise because there’s plenty here to suggest there is more to come from the Koko Mojo stable.


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Satan’s Funeral

Various Artists

Rhythm Bomb

Produced and engineered by Rawand Baziany at Black Shack Recordings, the duo known as Black Patti dust down the musical instruments and blowoff the creative cobwebs to deliver a brand-new long player under the cheery title ‘Satan’s Funeral’. Well, with this being the blues and all, what else does one expect? Homing in on the finer details, eleven tracks make up ‘Satan’s Funeral’ with religion and associated faiths being the talking points throughout this current offering. Relaying stories of religious beliefs set to music when blues came together with gospel sends the listener back to bygone eras, especially when listening to the pared back simplicity of ‘Be Ready When He Comes’ where the dual vocals of Peter Crow C. & Mr. Jelly Roll and the stringed instruments (namely guitar and mandolin) are compelling in their delivery, creaking out its rhythm and giving suggestion of straining in their endeavour to advise caution regarding its contents. Caution is probably the correct wording here, but more importantly heeding such cautionary notes especially when songs declare ‘God Don’t Like It’ for example. There is much suggestion, however, that the track list plays out a singular narrative of one individual who realises the errors of their ways and, in doing so, seeks redemption at every possible turn. Such ideas can be found during Hank Williams’ country gospel ‘I Saw The Light’, presented here in uplifting manner by ‘I Saw The Light (II)’, to soul-searching couplet of gospel/rustic bop induced ‘Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind On Jesus)’, and followed by deeply meditative ‘Where Is That Place’. A brave album considering (for many) the secular times we live in. Despite this, Black Patti draw much attention to their latest album by means of their inventiveness and abilities to recreate an authentic sound, where one cannot help but fall under its spell and heed the words of its final song, “Get On The Road To Glory”. Amen to that.


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Koko Mojo Diner – Soul Food Volume 1

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Great concept for latest compilation series ‘Koko Mojo Diner – Soul Food Volume 1’ where you will find songs fixated with another subject of love, and that being food. With the Mojo Man sourcing the material for the first volume and the “Soul Food” of its title stemming from ethnic cuisine traditionally prepared and eaten by African Americans in the Southern United States, then expect plenty of songs working the ingredients of said food into the tracks selected. A charming feature is the sole focus on food and people’s eating habits, and this brings with it a few eccentricities to the songs selected for this first album. Furthermore, it makes for great listening and offers a piece of history, with further learning by way of the additional liner notes. Something of a custom as far as these compilations go, there’s good variation between the tracks such as instrumentals, with the briefest of words used during The Earthworms ‘Mo’ Taters’, and Beale Street Gang flexing some boogie-woogie with ‘Fat Stuff Boogie’, not to mention an excellent guitar-driven and fiery saxophone found during ‘Dumplin’s’ from Doc Bagby. In other places you will find plenty of traditional rhythm and blues such as The “5” Royales ‘Monkey Hips & Rice’ with it’s intriguing title and lyrics offering, “I didn’t know what it was that I was eating, but the knife and fork they really took a beating” raises both an eyebrow and smile simultaneously. With plenty of ingredients thrown into the cooking pot (Anyone fancy some ‘Neck Bones & Hot Sauce’?) that is ‘Koko Mojo Diner – Soul Food Volume 1’ where songs have much to offer from end of relationship blues found in ‘Burnt Toast and Black Coffee’ (Shorty Long), to innocent or risqué words of Lil Johnson’s ‘Sam The Hot Dog Man’, there is never a dull moment at this diner.



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