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Ace (CDCHD652)

LEAP FROGS: Things Gonna Change, Dirty Britches, DIXIE DOODLERS: She Was All I Had, Best Of Friends, SHY GUY DOUGLAS: Wasted Time, I'm Your Country Man, No Place Like Home, She's My Kinda Girl, LOUIS CAMPBELL: Gotta Have You Baby, The Natural Facts, SLIM HUNT: Welcome Home Baby, ARTHUR GUNTER: She's Mine All Mine, Honey Baby, You Are Doing Me Wrong, LITTLE AL: No Jive, Little Lean Woman, Every Day Brings Bout A Change, Easy Ridin' Buggy, ROBERT GARRETT: Quit My  Drinkin' Wine, Do Remember, CHAS DOWELL with JAMES STEWART: Everybody Drinkin' Wine, I've Been Jumpin' And Stompin', GOOD ROCKIN' BOB: Ain't No Need To Cry, I'm Bad.

Ask anyone who collects Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim, Lonesome Sundown or Lazy Lester and they'll tell you that Excello Records put out some of the best southern blues records as singles in the 1950s and 60s. This anthology showcases some lesser known musicians but it's still crammed with exciting and important recordings.

You get Shy Guy Douglas who was a tough singer with one of the best bands around - Jimmy Johnson on harmonica, Skippy Brooks on piano and Arthur Gunter on guitar. He put out a few ripping records and there are four on this CD including the rollicking rocker I'm Your Country Man.

Louis Campbell played some big brassy blues like Gotta Have You Baby and the slow boogie  Natural Facts when he teamed up with Johnson and Gunter but they really took off when, under the name The Leap Frogs, they waded into the heavenly shuffle beat of Things Gonna Change. This one immediately hits a groove with rhythm guitars slamming out the backbeat while the harmonica howls and the lead guitar slips in and out with some perfectly paced rockin' licks. It's an absolute stormer but their instrumental Dirty Britches sounds damn near as good thanks to the guitarist who comes on with his Django-esque jazzy runs, and the harp player who delivers some squawking stuff that really takes off. The Dixie Doodlers sound like a jazzy jugband with guitars, washboard, kazoo and trumpets that on first listen come over as a bit ramshackle but the more I hear, the more I like!

Arthur Gunter had a trademark charging, rockabilly beat that hit the big time with Baby Let's Play House which was covered by Elvis who I'm surprised didn't take hold of the shakin' Honey Babe - he'd have had a sure-fire hit with that one too.  Arthur's brother, Little Al, tones things down with his delicious laid back blues No Jive, a slow, lean boogie that features some stinging guitar licks over a beefy insistent backbeat that is just as hot as his big blues title Every Day Brings About a Change. This one is a bemused look at life backed up with a hammering piano and great vocals but my absolute favourite is the delicate little rocker Easy Ridin' Buggy which gets an extra lift from that piano again. Without doubt though, it's Chas Dowell's track that makes the biggest noise on this CD. The previously unissued I've Been Jumpin' And Stompin' crashes through the speakers with a weird slapping beat, manic harmonica and Chas's dry, throaty vocals shrieking out the lyrics like a madman while the drummer beats the living daylights out of what sounds like a dustbin lid. The whole thing rocks like crazy until it fades out far too soon!

No Jive is a beautifully presented set of genuinely exciting electrified country blues with a beat. It was originally released in 1997 and I've been loving it ever since. Don't miss your chance to get a grip on this 24 track, 24 carat diamond!


Review Date: July 2010

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