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Ace (CDCHD1416)

Bobby Mitchell, Johnny Adams, Tommy Ridgley, Martha Nelson, Eddie Bo, Joe ‘Guitar’ Morris, Barbara Lynn, Joe Louis, Warren Lee, Lenny Capello, Jimmy Easterling and more…

This is the second volume celebrating the history and recordings of Joe Ruffino’s New Orleans-based Ric & Ron Records. The first volume, You Talk Too Much (CDCHD1390) came out some 6 months or so ago and concentrated on the early years of the label, between 1958 and 1960. This set completes the story covering the period from 1960 to early 1963, at which time the label wound down operations following Ruffino’s death.

Among the 24 tracks on this set, all of the label’s major artists are featured with some of their New Orleans jukebox hits that helped to sustain the label. These include A Losing Battle, a strong gospel-infused soul ballad by Johnny Adams, Check Mr Popeye a funky slice of Crescent City R&B by Eddie Bo and Tommy Ridgely’s seriously tasty Should I Ever Love Again. But there are a bundle more great numbers to take note of here. Johnny Adams plaintive The Bells Are Ringing is a southern soul beaut, as is Martha Carter’s feisty You Can If You Think You Can. More up-tempo options are served up by Joe Louis on Country Boy (based around the musical structure of Stagolee) and by Lenny Capello & The Dots on Geneveve. Best of all perhaps is Honest I Do by Tommy Ridgley, a slice of New Orleans soul pop that fans of James Hunter would really love.

There is also a fabulous fun answer to Joe Jones massive hit You Talk Too Much (and title of Volume 1 to this series) entitled I Don’t Talk Too Much with the killer response “You say I talk too much/but you can yack quite a bit yourself“.

And, as with Volume 1, the set is rounded off with a number of rare and previously unissued demos.  This time they include a ragged band run-through of Carnival Time by Al Johnson and a couple of heartbreakers from Barbara Lynn, (Found My Good Thing and Question Of Love), the emotional impact of which is enhanced by the unembellished starkness of just being accompanied by a guitar. The same applies to Johnny Adams tortured demo of How Come And Why, a splendid way to conclude an altogether tremendous set.

It’s a pity that, having come to the end of the label’s period, Ace won’t be issuing a third volume in the series. Still, not to worry, we still have these two volumes with which to remember a wonderful period in New Orleans musical history.

Review Date: October 2014

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