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I SMELL A RAT - EARLY BLACK ROCK N ROLL VOLUME 2 1949 - 1959

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Trikont (US0412)

Howlin Wolf: Poor Boy, Big Mama Thornton: I Smell A Rat, Guitar Slim: Well I Done Got Over, Billy The Kid Emerson: Every Woman I Know, Johnny Guitar Watson: One More Kiss, Coasters: 3 Cool Cats, Chuck Willis: Feel So Bad, Tarheel Slim: Number 9 Train, Little Esther: Hound Dog, Robert Lockwood Jnr: Dig Myself A Hole, John Lee Hooker: Baby Lee, Junior Wells: Little By Little, Amos Milburn: Juice Juice Juice, Lonnie The Cat: I Ain't Drunk, Etta James: Nobody Loves You Like Me, 5 Royales: Think, Little Willie John: All Around The World, Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down, Big Maybelle: Ocean Of Tears, Sandra Meade: Fever, Bo Diddley: She's Fine She's Mine, Sly Fox: My Four Women, Andre Williams: Bacon Fat, Rosco Gordon: Throwin' My Money Away, Chuck Berry: No Money Down, Jimmy McCracklin: Gonna Tell Your Mother.

Like its predecessor (Roll Your Moneymaker, Trikont US0392), I Smell a Rat is a well thought out collection of the best upbeat material black artists of the day had to offer and anyone who got the first volume will be delighted that volume 2 has made its appearance.

There are some familiar tracks of course. Howlin' Wolf, Billy Emerson, The Coasters and Chuck Berry are here with tracks you all know and love but then you get the more unusual stuff like Little Esther snarling her way through Hound Dog and Etta James' echo-laden version of Nobody Loves You Like Me. If Etta has her eye on you, there's no escape and she makes that perfectly clear to her victim on this dark, nervy and threatening love ballad.

Trikont delved way back into Bo Diddley's repertoire for his eccentric re-make of You Don't Love Me which comes out as a full blown African hunch number with Billy Boy Arnold's wilful harp and tons of reverberating guitar glistening over a mambo beat. Lonnie The Cat's booze-fuelled I Ain't Drunk has Ike Turner's Band looking after the rhythm and was made years before Albert Collins got hold of it. Andre Williams comes over like the Coasters on steroids with a slice of cool jive on Bacon Fat. This one's a hip talking blues kinda thing describing the latest dance craze and is performed by a laid back combo with a sax player who breathes life into each note. Jimmy McCracklin steps up with Gonna Tell Your Mother, a remake of JB Lenoir's Talk To Your Daughter, giving it a lush, slap-beat arrangement with tons of driving bass and some endearingly nervous harmonica playing. Robert Junior Lockwood raises the temperature with his early acoustic rocker Dig Myself A Hole which was written, incidentally, by the father of rock'n'roll Arthur Crudup. Tarheel Slim slams out the big beat on his thundering classic Number Nine Train which has some fabulous interplay between the two electric guitars on the breathless solo and then I must give a mention to Sly Fox sitting in solitary boasting about bumping off his Four Women!

On the first volume I discovered songs I'd never heard before that since have become firm favourites and it's going to be the same with this CD. This selection is full of rare treasures like The Five Royales, whose track Think is an uplifting soul filled gem thanks to the crystal clear vocals of Johnny Tanners, some great guitar and a very exuberant tenor sax player. Then there's Johnny Guitar Watson's semi-doo-wop arrangement of One More Kiss with its after hours feel - and ain't that a fine little groove John Lee Hooker gets himself into on Baby Lee? Slow, intense and delicious.

You've got volume one - now get this five star set too.

Review Date: March 2010

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