LOUISIANA SWAMP BLUES (4CD)
Silas Hogan, Guitar Jr, Boozoo Chavis, Charles Sheffield, Jimmy Dotson, Boogie Jake, Guitar Gable, Clarence Garlow, Lonesome Sundown, Blue Charlie, Tal Miller, Juke Boy Bonner, Hop Wilson, Cookie & The Cupcakes and many more…
Yet another marvellous 4CD set from JSP, this time featuring the great sound of the Louisiana Swamps during the golden years for blues and R&B of the 1950s-early 1960s.
These 102 crackers, superbly chosen and compiled by Neil Slaven, sit perfectly in the imagined space between JSP’s own series of four sets of Juke Joint collections and Ace’s more recent By The Bayou series, with the new Bluesin’ By The Bayou – Rough ‘N Tough (CDCHD1403) being the eighth in the line (but still counting!). While this inevitably has resulted in a little duplication between this and other sets, percentage-wise this is negligible and does nothing to undermine the essential and desirable nature of all.
One of the most notable observations arising from an initial inspection of this collection is the lack of star names usually included in any collection of this type. You will look in vain for any sign of Slim Harpo, Lightnin’ Slim and Lazy Lester for starters but you need not fret as what we do have here – the known, the half-remembered and the completely unknown – is of a stunningly high quality throughout.
Drawn largely from independent labels in and around Louisiana (Excello mostly prominently of course), the scope of inclusion here extend way beyond the typically doom-laden sound most usually associated with Louisiana swamp blues. While there are many sublime examples of this from the likes of Lonesome Sundown, Silas Hogan, Jimmy Anderson and Boogie Jake, there are also plenty of other local sounds going on, incorporating the influence of zydeco, swamp pop, rock and roll and much more.
And in a set with so many absolute jewels, it is near-impossible to pick out stand out favourites. While it is of course great to hear again all-time classics such as The Crawl by Guitar Jr, It’s Your Voodoo Working by Charles Sheffield and Jimmy Dotson’s Oh Baby, it is even better to add new favourites. These include Hop Wilson’s demented near-instrumental Chicken Stuff, Cleveland Crotchet’s rockin’ zydeco of Sugar Bee, Classie Ballou’s Crazy Mambo and Clarence Garlow’s Sound The Bell (a song only in my collection prior to this via Johnny Winter’s rip-snorting version on one of his earlier Alligator albums).
Do yourself a favour and get this - if you don’t like it, I don’t know what runs through your veins but it ain’t standard issue human blood!
Review Date: August 2014