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BLUESIN’ BY THE BAYOU - ROUGH ‘N TOUGH

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Ace (CDCHD1403)

Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, Lonesome Sundown, Slim Harpo, Boozoo Chavis, Joe Mayfield, Guitar Jr, Clarence Garlow, Jimmy Anderson, Vince Monroe, Mad Dog Sheffield and more…

The eighth in the stunning By The Bayou series that mines the vaults of independent music labels in and around Louisiana in the late 1950s and early 1960s. For this release, the second volume of Bluesin’ By The Bayou (after CDCHD1368), attention focuses on the musicians from South Louisiana and South East Texas discovered and recorded by J.D. Miller and Eddie Suhler, two of the leading talent scouts and record producers in the region.

 Once again the research work of the series co-ordinator, Ian Saddler, delivers on ever-increasing expectations - a victim of his own success arising out of each of the previous seven releases in the series being so bang-on. This offers up 28 fantastic slices of Louisiana swamp blues, 17 of which are said to be previously un-issued or alternate takes to those we may already know. And all but one side here has been taken from their master tape, meaning that the Ace edition can’t and won’t be beat for sound quality.

Matters start so very well with one of Lightnin’ Slim’s marvellous talking blues numbers, Trip To Chicago, recounting alongside his usual harmonica playing foil, Lazy Lester, a bus journey once taken by them both and others in the J.D. Miller roster. The trip didn’t turn out so well and the content of the anecdote is pretty good, as is the repetitive musical riff behind it, but it is Lightnin’ Slim’s languid delivery that makes me want to hear it over and over again.

Lazy Lester appears elsewhere on an alternate take of his sublime Sugar Coated Love and lesser-known but still mighty Whoa Now! Both these tracks are steeped in the atmosphere of the swamp, as are the Jimmy Reed-stylings of Jimmy Anderson on the infectious Keep On Naggin’ and I Wanna Boogie. Naturally enough Slim Harpo is here, featured on an alternate take of his groove-licious My Little Queen Bee (a follow-up to his I’m A King Bee hit). Of more curiosity interest is his little-known Bought Me A Ticket, unusual for him but still mighty fine.

A couple of other excellent Lightnin’ Slim sides, Tired Little Fellow and I’m Tired Of Waiting Baby, add to the inclusions of the better-known artists but there are also plenty of lesser known artists with great sides included. Most follow the familiar musical template of the better-selling artists, squeezing plenty of mileage out of the tub-thumping drums, riffiing guitars and moody harp blowing. There is however also plenty of variety on offer, such as Hop Wilson’s distinctive pedal steel stylings on Love’s Got Me All Fenced In and Clarence Garlow’s well-paced accordion playing on It Isn’t Right, blending rather nicely in with the enjoyably over-amped playing of his band’s guitarist.

There is of course plenty more to bang on about but, if you have come this far with the series, you really don’t need me to tell you of the bounty to be found here. And, if you’ve not followed the series to date, this is as good a time to get with the programme and catch up.

Review Date: August 2014

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