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Ace (CDCHD1397)

Vince Anthony, Jay Richards, Bobby Webb, Warren Storm, Rocket Morgan, Jivin’ Gene & The Jokers, Frankie Lowery, Tommy Strange, Johnnie Allan, Guitar Jeff, Bee Arnold, Buck Rogers & His Jets & many more.

Here we are again, in seemingly no time at all, already at Volume 7 in the spectacular 'By The Bayou' series. I really do envy the job that Ian Saddler, compiler of this series, has and would like to put myself forward as his replacement in the unlikely event that he wakes up one morning and announces an intention to pursue a new career in loft conversion.

In the meantime, I will just have to make do with the fabulous releases that are coming out of his trawl of the vaults of independent record labels of Louisiana in the 1950s and 1960s. This time around, the featured archives are those of Floyd Soileau’s Jin, Eddie Shuler’s Goldband and the numerous labels of Carol Rachou and the legendary JD Miller. And, having bopped, bluesed and R&B’d on the previous compilations in the series, this time the focus of attention is on 'swamp pop', another one of Louisiana's great musical traditions but not perhaps the clearest or particularly most meaningful musical category ever coined. The superb liner notes, as always, come to the rescue and define the intention here to capture 'happy rockers, strollers and the odd tearjerker' and this was plenty good enough to spike my interest and entice me in.

Indeed, the diversity and variety on offer  across the 28 great tracks here is perhaps the greatest strength of this collection. Having marvelled at the little-known Frankie Lowery's She's Walking Toward Me (a superb country ballad if ever I've heard one), the next track up is Rocket Morgan's splendid hiccuppy rock and roll of Did You Leave Something Else (For Me) and the lightweight pop of No Season On Squeezing from Charles Page. All great tracks that sound even better by being presented next to each other. I think it was called ‘juxtaposition’ when I went to school.

As usual in these compilations, a large proportion of tracks have never previously been issued but whatever the reason they languished in the vaults without any attention until now, it couldn't have been for reasons of quality. I've yet to find one I don't like. And I also like Ace’s   general rule for the series of largely omitting well known names in favour of lesser known artists. This has come up trumps again here as, while there are a smattering of tracks from stars such as Johnnie Allen and Warren Storm, it is a revelation to find tracks by the likes of Tommy Strange and Buck Rogers & His Jets. These tracks are just as good as their names are bad. 

No doubt Ian Saddler is already hard at work at Volume 8. I’m sure that I am not the only one who really hopes so.

Review Date: April 2014

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