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The Mojo Man Special Volume 3: It’s Your Voodoo Working

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Following up Volume 2 of this rather exciting series is, well, you guessed it, Volume 3! Featuring another twenty-four tracks fit for your dancing and listening pleasures, the “Mojo Man” is responsible for brewing the ideas and artists featured on this compilation series. The choices selected range from the well-established to slightly more obscure, which is bonus appeal for anyone’s money. Exploring the contents further, Volume 3 features more of the same greatness as its predecessor where rhythm and blues plays a prominent role and supported from all sides with some tasty blues treats and tinges of early soul. A good starting point (All opinions welcome of course) if you are looking to jump straight in can be found via the blistering pace of The Hollywood Flames ‘Strollin’ On The Beach’. Jumping back to the other end of this fine compilation, then the “happy-go-lucky” approach of The Guytones’ ‘’Baby I Don’t Care’, complete with doo-wop vocals and equally cheerful rhythm is likely to keep the spirits up especially in terms of the dancefloor. But it is the variation in styles when it comes to rhythm and blues because these songs are equally at home on a sound system considering the almost disorderly approach of The Nightriders ‘Lookin’ For My Baby’ where instruments sound as if they are overlapping each other or attempting to pull in different directions and therefore complementing the anxiety expressed by the vocals. It is these very tales of real life and all it highlights and woes that make this more than a simple collection of “Dancefloor killers!” because even though these songs will fulfil their promise of filling the dancefloors, there’s much to contemplate and revel in from blues rhythm of Jimmy Anderson’s ‘Naggin’; Howlin’ Wolf with ‘Poor Boy’, to The Penguins ‘Money Talks’, making this a must-have album for all rhythm and blues connoisseurs.


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The Mojo Man Special Volume 2: Voodoo Doll

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

After setting aside the dancing shoes for a bit of rest and relaxation, Volume 2 in this relatively fresh series, ‘The Mojo Man Special’, sees another twenty-four tracks handpicked by the “Mojo Man” himself and ready to hit the nearest dancefloors. With this being a full house of mostly rhythm and blues numbers, there’s plenty of the familiar, and not so familiar, when it comes to the artists featured. There is strength in abundance here and straight from the off with the triple whammy of The Interiors (‘Voodoo Doll’), Little Mummy (‘Where You At Jack’), and The Videos (‘Trickle Trickle’) where it is the vocals appealing greatly with their expressive tones and, when used, beautiful harmonisations really selling the tales at the hearts of these songs. From there the alluring sax intro of ‘A Thousand Times’ grabs at your senses immediately, before Jean Shepard takes over with much conviction relaying details of a relationship turned sour despite one side still clinging to a small measure of hope. As mentioned, there are plenty of variants you can approach here to get those feet moving from lively floor stomper ‘Damp Rag’, peppered with big band influences from Stomp Gordon, but also blues tracks with fine examples from John Lee Hooker (‘I’m Going Upstairs’); ‘I’m Tired Waitin’ Baby’ by Lightnin’ Slim, not to mention Delta blues from Elmore James with ‘Fine Little Mama’. Add to the mix original wild man Esquerita (‘Get Back Baby’), and powerful vocals and early soul of Little Woo Woo & The Moroccos’ ‘The Big Swim’, and ‘The Mojo Man Special Volume 2: Voodoo Doll’ really has something for everyone whether up on the dancefloor or simply listening at home.


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Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.14

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

After the glorious reintroduction to the ‘Southern Bred R&B Rockers’ series by means of recently issued Volume 13, the next instalment has been greatly anticipated. First impressions suggest ‘Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.14’ is ticking all the right boxes with its standard twenty-eight tracks and mixture of more familiar artists with a few less familiar. Once underway, the music reveals itself to be of the usual high standard, with full marks to Dee Jay Mark Armstrong once more for setting up this new album in rather fine style, beginning with Eddie Bo ‘I Love To Rock ‘n’ Roll’. From there Little Sonny Jones continues this excellent start by inserting more rhythm and blues into this musical cannon and offering some interesting words that appear to be referring to intoxicated highs and losing every dime this musician owns. Jesse Thomas offers more of a measured beat, and fittingly so given the pensive nature of the lyrics. There are wild instrumentals from Paul Gayten and His Orchestra and track ‘Cow Cow Blues’, to rhythm and blues bordering with rock ‘n’ roll examples from Larry Williams ‘You Bug Me Baby’, Fats Domino ‘Bo Weevil’, and Frankie Lee Sims ‘Hey Little Girl’.  With the inclusion of Classie Ballou and His Tempo Kings Orchestra ‘Loving Huggin’ Kissin’ My Baby’ offers variation considering the familiar names of Champion Jack Dupree, Buddy Guy, and Slim Harpo, and even further leftfield the listener will discover the rare oddity that is ‘Bald Head’ from Roy Byrd and His Blues Jumpers. As with the previous volume, Volume 14 of the ‘Southern Bred’ series never disappoints.


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Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.13

Koko Mojo

The series that keeps on going is ‘Southern Bred: R&B Rockers’. This time it is the artists who were situated in Louisiana and New Orleans and feature on this latest volume. It must be said that if you set up a compilation featuring the talented skills of Dave Bartholomew and begin with said artist, then it’s likely this album is going to be paved with gold. That is in fact what unfurls with several big hitters in the form of Fats Domino, Little Walter, Smiley Lewis, Jack Dupree, and Slim Harpo all making appearances with a small smattering of less familiar characters. This is part of the fascination as there is likely to be one or two numbers that will be less familiar to many ears, and in this instance examples such as Joe Lutcher and His Society Cats ‘Rockin’ Boogie’, which is a fine slice of jump blues, and a tad earlier in the track running Clarence Garlow with equally fine rhythm and blues ‘I’ll Never Hold It Against You’. With Dave Bartholomew already mentioned, who happened to be a rather influential figure given his positions as bandleader, arranger, record producer writer and co-writer with the likes of Fats Domino, it’s Bartholomew who presents himself not once, but three times during the running of this compilation with tracks ‘Jump Children’, ‘Good Sax Boogie’ (featuring His Orchestra), and finally, ‘Four Winds’. Elsewhere, expect such delights from Richard Berry and The Dreamers with ‘Daddy Daddy’, which is a combined rhythm and blues and early rock ‘n’ roll number given the “soda-pop girls” backing vocals complementing Berry’s silky voice. Clearly, much preparation has been given regarding the artists to be included on Volume 13, and that’s credit to complier Mark Armstrong who has researched his subject matter and provided an album that rocks on many occasions whether it’s Smiley Lewis ‘Ain’t Gonna Do It’ or Jack Dupree ‘Shim Sham, Shimmy’ offering such a service, ‘Southern Bred: Louisiana & New Orleans R&B Rockers Vol.13’ has much to offer and we are only at the beginning!


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Whip Masters Instrumentals Vol.1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Heading in a different direction for this new collection of tracks on the Atomicat record label is the CD offering ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals Vol. 1’. Filled to the brim with “Thirty stylized instrumentals with the occasional vocal-shout out”, this album will undoubtedly provide plenty of thrills as it will much variation given the inclusion of tracks stemming from the genres of rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, surf rock and rhythm and blues. Opening this account is Dave’s Travelers with ‘Traveler Rock’ and then followed by Hank Moore and Orchestra and ‘Sour Mash’, which lights up this album mainly due to a very energetic and heated saxophone. Keeping the wild rockin’ momentum going is the very intriguing Jay Hodge Ork. featuring Lloyd Rowe on guitar and track ‘Goatsville’, which is a rollin’, rollicking instrumental and one that has been skewered by western film scores and rock ‘n’ roll and therefore setting creativity on high. In other words, absolute genius! Other places you will find Bo Didley leading the creative charge with the inventive ‘Bo’s Bounce’, where the fingers really do the talking as far as the guitar is concerned, and similarly but by means of piano this time Hadda Brooks skilfully puts said instrument to work during ‘Teenage Boogie’. As with these compilations there’s often a surprise or two and that can be heard with less known and certainly humorous Space Man With The Rockets’ ‘Cave Man Love’, but more notably for the inclusion of modern artists turning their attention to sounds of old and in this instance Urban Zotel and detailed guitar excursion ‘Blastin’ Off’. Throw in an obscure surf instrumental from Yugoslavia circa 1963 by the name of ‘Strijele’ by Bijele Strijele and ‘Whip Masters Instrumentals Vol.1’ is not only worthy of one’s attention for its sheer quality, but offers a collection with that little extra difference that is lacking on similar instrumental album releases.


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Golgotha (Single)

Three Star Riot

OWN LABEL

Coming out of lockdown, Three Star Riot keep the creative momentum going with the brand-new single ‘Golgotha’. Clocking in around the two-minute mark, this latest song from Three Star Riot reveals a band with a conscience where socio-political thoughts infiltrate its words and leaves one with an afterthought of, and to cite one of their heroes, a “thinking persons” The Living End. Therefore, with much to offer, ‘Golgotha’ rumbles along at considerable pace and remains concise in its overall execution via a sharp rhythm of rumbling upright bass, a gruff vocal, and rapid guitar. In other words, ‘Golgotha’ is a song you can set your watch to, and all the remarkable considering its brief stay yet somehow managing to shoehorn in much food for thought via some interesting social and political commentary.


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The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll: Commandment Five

Various Artists

Atomicat

Following commandment number four in this first-rate series is ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll – Commandment Five’, which turns its attention on forming a partnership. Therefore, with strong connections to the previous album, which centred on love, the fifth commandment sings the praises of cementing that bond with a meaningful relationship. To help the listener understand in more detail, Dee Jay Mark Armstrong selects the songs for this playlist with tracks stemming from the genres of rhythm and blues, rockabilly, and rock ‘n’ roll. Housed inside the uniform trifold digipak complete with liner notes detailing the artists involved, the album gets underway with Billy Brown and ‘Look Out Heart (Here Comes Love)’ that has more in common with its release year of early 60’s pop than anything associated with rockabilly of the 50s. Similar tracks follow with Roy Tyson ‘Oh What A Night For Love’, and Chuck Reed with Hugo Peretti and His Orchestra and song ‘Let’s Put Our Hearts Together’. Fear not though, for those expecting something a little rougher around the edges via a taste of rockabilly, then Carl Perkins gladly obliges with the infectious ‘Glad All Over’. Gene Wyatt continues in a similar fashion by cranking out an irresistible slice of rockabilly via ‘Love Fever’, before handing over to the always consistent Mac Curtis and track ‘Say So’. Despite this, the pop song dominates more often on this latest album, adding variation to previous volumes of this series and something to be welcomed given the inclusion of Johnny Carroll’s dreamy, melancholic ballad ‘Lost Without You’, and Johnny Preston’s reaving his passion for the ‘Kissin’ Tree’. There is even room for some Brit rock ‘n’ roll via Cliff Richard and The Shadows’ ‘I’m Gonna Get You’. But it is the detailed guitar stroll of ‘Sweet Baby Of Mine’, not to mention forceful vocals of Ruth Brown which, combined, turn this into a moody and angst-ridden piece that claims first prize. If these songs are the steps to forming a partnership and leading to an overall feeling of “Glad All Over”, then count us in!


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The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll: Commandment Four

Various Artists

Atomicat

Crossing the time gap since Commandment Three, which proved a resounding success for its inspired selection of rhythm and blues and choice cuts of rockabilly, not to mention offering plenty of advice regarding a self-sufficient lifestyle if you want to avoid the hardships listed, ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll – Commandment Four’ changes its focus and this time concentrates on the subject of LOVE. If it’s romance you seek, then you have arrived at the right destination as this latest album contains thirty tracks featuring songs of love, romance, and relationships. By selecting a mixture of artists from the genres of rhythm and blues, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, this new collection of tunes beautifully presented in a three-panel digipak design complete with details concerning the artists involved from Dee Jay Mark Armstrong. Interestingly, there is a good balance of the “familiar” and “less familiar” when it comes to the musicians selected for this latest ride but, more notably, this series has an exceptionally good habit of picking artists seldom chosen for similar themed compilations. In fact, you simply cannot go wrong with ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll – Commandment Four’ because it offers great value for your hard-earned money, and much variety with plenty of top tunes to choose from. Therefore, expect to find scintillating rock ‘n’ roll at one end in the form of Tommy “Jim” Beam and The Four Fifths (‘Little Jewel’), rhythm and blues and doo wop sandwiched approximately in the middle via The Del Vikings, The Champions, The Five Keys, and further down the line one legend from the field of rockabilly with Glen Glenn and touching ballad ‘Laurie Ann’. Oh, and not forgetting a classic teenybopper from Bobby Rydell and ‘Wild One’ of course! With so much choice, the wait until the next “commandment” can take a leisurely stroll to arrive because the tracks chosen for ‘The Ten Commandments Of Rock ‘N’ Roll – Commandment Four’ are going to provide hours of entertainment.


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Boss Black Rockers: Crackerjack Vol. 9

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

The vaults at Koko Mojo must be seriously deep as far as delving for records of particular genres, but also for unearthing a few obscurities that likely go for a few dollars on the internet. What was considered a finished series after its eighth volume was released to the public, Volume 9 of excellent and informative Boss Black Rockers series makes another appearance. With its subheading ‘Crackerjack’ introducing listeners to another twenty-eight tracks of familiar artists, with a few unknowns, sparks interest immediately with The Kents’ ‘I Found My Girl’, and later Dave “Baby” Cortez living up to the wildness of this volume title with ‘Honey Baby’. The songs selected derive from the 50s and early 60s, and there is a lot to consume and probably best with return visits if you want to really get to grips with all on offer here. Pick of an extremely good bunch is the slightly dishevelled (and all the better for it) rhythm and blues of Harold Burrage with ‘Messed Up’, to incendiary (naturally) ‘Crackerjack’ of its album title via The Cues where guitar and vocals truly stand out. Speaking of knockout vocals, Mabel King barely takes a moment to breathe as she swiftly and forcefully moves through ‘Alabama Rock ‘n’ Roll’, leaving The Regals more restrained ‘Got The Water Boiling’ a good destination to take a moment to gather your thoughts before re-entering this wild side of rock ‘n’ roll. As The Shooters featuring Jackie make it work with combined vocals matched to a raucous beat and appropriate misspelling ‘Tuff Enuff’. Leaving the final say with The Savoys’ raw instrumental and street slang ‘Blo Jangs’, Volume 9 of this consistently great series lives up to the same expectations and paves the way for what is supposed to be the final album of Boss Black Rockers.


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Rock And Roll Vixens #4

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

With no disclosure of information regarding the number of albums in this series from Koko Mojo, the hope is that it will run for a sizeable distance given the sheer quality of tracks to date from previous volumes featuring a predominantly female cast of singers/musicians from the 50s and early 60s.  ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #4’ showcases another twenty-five tracks with a couple of surprises thrown in. As with previous albums, ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #4’ is beautifully presented in a three-fold digipak complete with simplistic eye-catching imagery/graphics and brief liner notes and, most importantly, packed with musical goodness. Such confident words from the start are down to what has gone before, and instantly backed up by the jazzy rhythm and blues of Dakota Staton’s version of Willie Dixon’s ‘My Babe’. Making a return journey for this latest album is The Bobbettes with ‘Have Mercy Baby’ and plenty of harmonised vocals. Similarities can be found in the excellent and certainly feisty ‘You Ain’t Nothin’ But A Nothin’’by Dee Dee Sharp. The surprise gem planted threequarters into this playlist comes from the combined talents of Bonita & The Blues Shacks where female and male vocals playoff each other in this tangled relationship. From such strong vocals comes another in the shape of Lulu Reed and convincing way she tells this tale of falling in love. It is often the vocal performances of many of the artists presented throughout this album series that impresses the most because of the effortless way the narratives are presented when it is down to a natural talent. Such an example is identifiable from the power held in Jean’s (Dean and Jean ‘Please Don’t Tell Me Now’) vocal without resorting to volume here, and the same notion applying to Mable John’s performance during ‘Looking For A Man’. More of this please as ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #4’ impresses on every level of this latest compilation.


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Rock And Roll Vixens #3

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Returning for a third trip is the new favourite albums series at Famous Last Words (FLW) ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #3’. Lined with twenty-five different female artists of African American origin, Volume #3 gets to work via The Bobbettes’ harmonised vocals that are genuinely steely and determined during ‘Come-A Come-A’. From such tough beginnings come more of the same with furious rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Been A Long Time Baby’ via Baby Washington; bluesy offerings from Babe Wayne and ‘That’s Where It’s At’, to surprise female/male duet between Lulu Reed and Freddy King during ‘You Can’t Hide’. Additionally, the flipside of this song is a phenomenal ballad, ‘(Let Your Love) Watch Over Me’, and therefore it is hoped that this track is open for future consideration of this album series. Another surprise included here is the beautiful Bonita & The Blues Shacks and their own composition ‘Where’s The Money Honey’; a surprise because the track is lifted from more modern times than what is presented here, not that it is noticeable either. From this wonderful delight, the quality of songs remains consistently high with superb vocals of Sallie Blair selling ‘A Kiss A Day’, The Cookies detailed and swinging rhythm of ‘Hippy Dippy Daddy’, to really emphasising the message in both line-up and song title is The Lovers and ‘I Wanna Be Loved’. One of the key highlights comes from clearly talented Big Maybelle who makes ‘One Monkey Don’t Stop The Show’ sound so effortless due to the skills in her locker. Another “All killer, no filler” album from Koko Mojo with ‘Rock And Roll Vixens #3’.


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I Confess (Single)

Jo Below

Inverse Records

Finnish hard-rock quartet Jo Below make a return trip in 2021 with new single ‘I Confess’. The brand-new offering is the second track to be lifted from the forthcoming EP, ‘No Control’. As with previous single ‘Ms. Death’, the musical leaps in progress for Jo Below since their debut record, ‘By The Rules’, continues apace as ‘I Confess’ ditches the polish for a far grittier sound. The comparisons offered up by the band’s press release including Stone Sour, Halestorm and Paramore are accurate reflections of latest single ‘I Confess’ given its post-grunge connections. Whilst Jo Below’s music may not be reinventing the wheel, the decision to apply a far thicker layer of grease to the creative spokes of this musical creation was an inspired choice, drawing in additional comparisons with Antipodeans Super Jesus and thus opening a pathway to the alternative-rock universe. Truly, ‘I Confess’ is a song worth getting excited about.



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