The 40 tracks compiled on this two-disc set represent the entire span of pianist and singer Leroy Carr's recording career that spanned a brief seven years, from 1928-1935. The material represented here – all but one of these tracks were recorded for the Vocalion label – features accompaniment by guitarist Scrapper Blackwell on all but one selection, and Josh White on a handful as well. Carr's material here ranges from the classic piano blues of the era that spawned Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith to vaudeville and hokum tunes made popular by artists like Tampa Red and Georgia Tom. Carr's voice is the haunting thing here; it's higher and very clear, sweet almost, as evidenced by most of these sides. But there was an edge, too; one that belied a kind of pathos underneath even the most cheery material – check "Mean Mistreater Blues" or "Bread Baker." But the darker material such as "Suicide Blues" (one of six previously unissued performances), "Straight Alky Blues," or "Shinin' Pistol," is strange and eerie given Carr's smooth approach. Carr may not be the most well-known bluesman of the era, but his contribution is profound and lasting. This collection puts to shame almost all others with the exception of the multi-volume complete recordings on Document.
As part of The Stranglers' celebration of their Ruby Anniversary, the definitive collection of the B-side recordings they made whilst signed to Epic is released for the first time, via their own label. Appropriately, as befits a band marking forty years together, Here & There: The Epic B-sides Collection 1983-1991 gathers 40 tracks across 2 CDs and is also released as a 40 track digital package. The Stranglers released no less than 13 singles in the UK during this period, which saw them produce five albums: four studio and one live. The Stranglers signed to Epic Records in 1982 having been with United Artists / Liberty since 1977. The change of label coincided with changes in marketing policy across the UK industry - often dubbed "the Frankie Goes to Hollywood effect". Previously, The Stranglers' had released only one 12" single - an extended version of Bear Cage in 1980 - but from 2nd Epic single, Midnight Summer Dream until 1990, each release had a 12" version which required extra studio or, increasingly, live tracks to "add value" to the package.
This is something of a sequel to the 1993 Ace compilation of early King sides titled Blues Guitar Hero: The Influential Early Sessions, though it took Ace nearly a decade to unleash the companion volume. All of the 24 tracks were recorded between 1961 and 1966, though some of the songs weren't released until after 1966, in a few cases not for decades; indeed, four alternate takes make their first appearance here. All of King's chart records occurred in 1961, and all were included on the prior Blues Guitar Hero: The Influential Early Sessions, so this couldn't qualify as the first-choice early King; there's no "Hide Away" or "San-Ho-Zay" here. On a musical level, though, this isn't much different in nature or quality than what you'll find on the earlier anthology. Split between vocals and instrumentals, it's top-notch R&B-blues-rock & roll crossover with stinging guitar and soulful vocals, even if the similarity of some of the songs might turn off non-aficionados.