ON BENDED KNEE - THE BIRTH OF SWAMP POP (2CD)
Earl King, Bobby Charles, Guitar Jr, Jimmy Clanton, Johnnie Allen, Jimmy Donley, Warren Storm, Cookie & The Cupcakes, Joe Barry, Rockin' Sidney, Margaret Lewis, Doug Ardoin, Gene Thomas and more.
A staggering 65 tracks on 2CDs presenting many of the very best swamp pop records that came out of Louisiana in the fifties and sixties.
Not that these records were recorded and released with a definable swamp pop market in mind. As the brief but informative notes to this collection point out, the swamp pop term was coined retrospectively and not until the late 1960s, well after these sides had been recorded and released.
This perhaps explains the relatively wide variety of styles and forms that the music included offers, bringing in diverse influences of country, cajun, rock and roll and, most especially, New Orleans R&B. This notwithstanding, whether a slow, mournful ballad or a hard driving rocker, the tracks each invariably have in common a rolling piano, mournful horn section, stinging guitar part and loping bass as back up to the impassioned vocal stylings.
While including many of the bigger names and plenty of relatively well-known sides, there are just so many tracks on offer here that you would have to be a complete swamp pop anorak not to find new and interesting. I was particularly pleased to re-discover tracks that the Fabulous Thunderbirds covered on their early albums - the rockin' sides of Guitar Junior's The Crawl and Rockin' Sidney's You Ain't Nothin' But Fine and the melancholy of Cookie & The Cupcakes Mathilda. In fact, each time I dip in, new treasures and highlights jump out and it is probably a measure of the confidence of the compilers in the quality of what they had available that they felt happy enough to tuck away a great version of Sea Of Love by Phil Phillips & The Twilights at the tail end of CD1.
Compiled from the vaults of iconic regional labels such as Excello, Goldband, Swallow, Jin, Viking, Vin and more, this is a collection you will never tire of - and at such a great price!
Review Date: October 2012