Top-notch rhythm & blues tracks from South Louisiana, including 11 previously unissued groovin’ goodies.
Back in the early 50s manic Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips, the man who broke Elvis, called his radio show Red, Hot & Blue – a wonderfully descriptive title which aptly illustrates the contents of this CD, the 19th in the “By The Bayou” series and the sixth devoted to R&B.
Whether from New Orleans in the east or Lake Charles in the west, whether fast and furious or slow and mournful, South Louisiana’s brand of R&B had a distinctive sound which influenced a whole generation of the state’s young rock’n’rollers, creating a blend which became known as swamp pop. Here – hidden amongst the red, hot and blue – can be heard the embryonic sounds of that music.
As previously in the series, this CD contains a mix of the famous and the totally unknown, with offerings from Guitar Jr, Lonesome Sundown and Cookie & the Cupcakes, through cult names such as Left Hand Charlie, Charles Sheffield and Little Victor to artists for whom we don’t even have a name – each play a part in bringing you a package which runs the whole gamut of South Louisiana rhythm & blues.
That embryonic swamp pop sound is typified by Guitar Jr’s ‘Family Rules’, a song still sung throughout South Louisiana and into S.E. Texas where the oil business took many of Cajun descent. It is artists of this background who keep R&B alive today, while it can be difficult to find black musicians who play this genre of music. A couple of years ago Louisiana R&B veteran Carol Fran took four of us out to find a Monday night jam session but discovered several of her old haunts closed down. Eventually she found a club with a jam going on. They were younger musicians not playing Carol’s kind of music but instantly recognised her, got her on stage and a good old R&B blast took place.
With the dearth of this exciting music as a live entertainment, its preservation through the release of long-lost tracks gathers in importance. But, hold on, this ain’t no history lesson, this is rompin’, stompin’ music to be enjoyed – so crank up your hi-fi, slip this CD in your player, grab a glass of something you enjoy and let the bon temps roule.
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