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Ace (CDCHD1478)

Chris Kenner, Lester Robertson, Guitar Jr, Barbara Lynn, Little Victor, Charles Sheffield, Leroy Washington, Classie Ballou, Tabby Thomas, Big Walter Price, Mr Mojo and more….

This little beaut is the fifteenth volume in the fabulous ‘By The Bayou’ series. As before, it serves up another of Ace’s tasty treats of rarities, alternate takes and previously unissued sides found in the vaults of a variety of independent record labels that operated in and around Louisiana in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Variously encompassing blues, rock & roll, swamp pop, this series also, naturally enough, incorporates the classic rhythm & blues sounds that emanated from the region in the first place. And this CD, the fifth in the series focussing on the wonders of honkin’, rompin’ and stompin rhythm & blues, is just as wonderful as any that has preceded it.

As with the previous fourteen volumes, this again offers up a balance of well-known names with barely-heard ofs, though this can be a little misleading - as some of the seemingly unknown names  featured here actually were better known under other recording names. You probably won’t need to be told that Guitar Jr (featured here on the classic Roll, Roll, Roll) later found fame as bluesman Lonnie Brooks. But would you have known that Love Sick Soul and Living On Borrowed Time by Smilin’ Joe is actually just an alias for the New Orleans recording artist widely known elsewhere as Cousin Joe?

While each and every one of these 28 tracks is worthy of your time and attention, the focus of the committed enthusiast is likely to be towards the rarities unearthed here. Among the rarest morsels on offer is the barn-storming Strange Things Happening In The Dark by Joe (Mr ‘G’) August, included here by dubbing from a rare 78 - being the only option available as the master tapes appeared to be long lost. There are also a couple of previously unheard delights from Barbara Lynn, believed to be her first recordings. Also previously unissued is the enjoyable instrumental workout, Crawley Stroll, by Classie Ballou, who also contributes some splendid Johnny Guitar Watson-like stinging guitar on an alternate take of the raucous D-i-r-t-y D-e-a-l.

Hats off again to Ace Records, and compiler of the series Ian Saddler, for maintaining such an enormously high standard in presenting these CDs to us. Somewhere along the line, the law of averages must kick in and a less-than-belting CD (and accompanying booklet) in the series will be issued. Thankfully, nothing of the sort has happened yet, and I for one (along with plenty of Red Lickers out there) continue to lap up each and every one of these.

Review Date: August 2016

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