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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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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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