28 slices of down’n’dirty blues from the Deep South – including eight previously unheard tracks and takes. The “By The Bayou” series leaps to Volume 18 with a return to the blues of South Louisiana, bringing you rare or previously unissued tracks from stars of the genre such as Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo, plus a host of little-known or completely unknown performers. We also have two artists who you would never think performed in the downhome style – Barbara Lynn and Cookie (aka Huey Thierry) – but who sound right at home, with an unknown harmonica player setting the tone on Barbara’s track whilst Cupcakes guitarist Marshall Laday supports Cookie with some mean blues pickin’. In fact there are several tracks here that will have air-guitar virtuosos reaching for their imaginary axes.
Two dozen rare B-sides from Stax Records’ “blue” period, many reissued for the first time. An enormous and impressive undertaking, “The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-68” box set was issued in 1991. While pleased with its content, hardcore collectors were nevertheless disappointed that it was not as “complete” as it claimed to be, as it featured all the A-sides and only selected B-sides. While highly welcome, its release left more than 100 of approximately 225 “blue period” Stax and Volt B-sides un-reissued in any form. Several of those sides have since featured on CD compilations, either as individual tracks here and there or on Kent’s recent “The Other Side Of The Trax”, but that still left many awaiting reissue. Fortunately, the success of “The Other Side Of The Trax” has warranted this second volume. The 24 tracks here span almost the whole of Stax Records’ blue period, as far back as when the label was still called Satellite.
During the final part of their career, the Stanley Brothers did most of their recording for the King label, laying down almost 200 sides for the company between 1958 and 1965. All of those tracks are available in box set form should you want them, but the ordinary fan will be satisfied with more selective samplers such as this one, which has a couple dozen cuts originally released in 1961-1966. The Stanley Brothers were a consistent enough act that the songs picked for best-of comps are pretty much up to the taste of the compiler, but this does a fine job both in the quality and the variety of the material presented. In addition to plenty of originals, there are also interpretations of songs by A.P. Carter, Alton Delmore, and traditional items.
The second volume of Ace’s Shirelles reissue project finds our heroines firmly entrenched as America’s premiere group. Shirley, Doris, Beverly and Micki (“Mouse” to her friends) were on top of the world as they rang in 1962 at the Apollo Theater’s holiday show – the youngest-ever women to headline Harlem’s fabled showplace. 1961 had seen them rise to dizzying heights with seven major hits, numerous TV appearances and non-stop touring, including an appearance at the Hollywood Bowl. The craze they had incited was booming – the Apollo bill featured the Marvelettes, who had recently become the second girl-group chart-toppers.