SWINGING ON THE GOLDEN GATE - BLUES, R&B AND JAZZ ON WEST COAST INDIE LABELS 1944-1958 (2CD)
Lafayette Thomas, Percy Mayfield, Jimmy Nelson, Ivory Joe Hunter, Nick Esposito, Pee Wee Crayton, Chick Morris, Roland Mitchell, Jesse Fuller, Frisco Jazz Band with Red Gillham & Clancy Hayes, Johnny Fuller, El Domingoes, Sherman's Trio, Floyd White & The Lyrics, The Four Aces, Morry Williams & The Kids, Mystery Man (Bob Geddins), Betty Roche & McVea-Bailey Inc, Bob Geddins Cavaliers, Joseph Harris, Baby Calloway, Gladys Palmer & The Wilbert Baranco Trio, Bill Newman with Bob Scobey's Alexander's Jazz Band, Rusty Carlyle, Leon Bryant, Marcellus Thomas, Lit Frances, Fabulous Flames, Earl Good Rockin' Brown, Odie Ervin.
Opal Louis Nations put this together to demonstrate just what great material was being issued on independent labels around the Bay Area from 1944-1955 and he proves his point with tons of rare and succulent stuff from producers like, among others, Ollie J Hunt (Joliet, Oliver, GruV-Tone etc), Bob Geddins (Big Town, Irma, Cavatone, Vel etc), Brad Taylor (Bay-Tone, Rene, LaMarre, Trilon).
The music is a mixture of easy rockin' R&B from Betty Roche and Chick Morris, booting blues'n'boogie from Jimmy Nelson and Nick Esposito, shimmering classy vocals from Percy Mayfield, Ivory Joe Hunter and Gladys Palmer, superior acoustic performances from Jesse Fuller, big guitar sounds from Peewee Crayton and Lafayette Thomas and the occasional excursion into the bizarre from Bob Geddins. Then there are Roland Mitchell's big band sax outings, Odie Ervin's solid jazzy piano grooves and Floyd White & The Lyrics' hardcore doowop along with Johnny Heartsman's whomping guitar on the Little Frances sides. Baby Calloway's big fat beats feature Roland Mitchell on sax and Napolean Henry on guitar and - is that Elvis or Johnny Fuller on the classic All Night Long? The bluesy jazz items by Alexander's Jazz Band and the Frisco Jazz Band don't do it for me but there are only four of them and they are far outweighed by the many great moments in this fascinating collection.
I must mention the opening number; Lafayette Thomas' Cockroach Run - an instrumental full of hard guitar and a double-cream fat sound that fairly blisters along with tremendous support from Johnny Heartsman on piano and Horace Hall on bass. If the BBC ever give me that 2 hours a night, six days a week blues program, this will be my theme tune! More top highlights are the bootin' drive of Odie Ervin's She's A Bad Woman, the cool West Coast sax blast of Chick Morris' Moving Out Baby and I just love that Billy Emerson rhythm percolated by Earl ‘Good Rocking' Brown on Turn Back The Time. And I can't forget Percy Mayfield's ultra rare recordings from 1946 Jack You Ain't Nowhere Parts 1&2 and Jesse Fuller's earliest shot at San Francisco Bay Blues recorded by JR Fulbright in 1954.
Really, there's tons of stuff here to thrill you and at our ridiculous price of £10.75 for 2CDs containing 52 sides it works out at about 21p per track - don't even think about it, buy it right now!
Ask for JSP4224
Price only £11.00 plus p&p for this 2 CD set.
Review Date: May 2010