All 28 songs from Carr's 1964-1970 Goldwax singles are here, which is enough to make it a fair bid for a good best-of compilation, although it doesn't have everything he recorded. About half of the songs on this British import are not on the most well-known American CD compilation of Carr's work, The Essential James Carr, and those tracks are consistent with the level of his other Goldwax recordings, although they don't include anything on the level of "The Dark End of the Street" or "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man." This disc is particularly valuable for filling in some of his earliest 1964-1966 sides, which have a very slightly poppier and more up-tempo bent than his most esteemed songs.
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.
Another masterpiece of British jazz reissued on Universal's outstanding Impressed Re-pressed series, where it joins other long unavailable classics such as Amancio D'Silva's Integration , reviewed last month. Recorded in '69, Greek Variations & Other Aegean Exercises is irresistible on two counts. First, for its daringly conceived and brilliantly performed music, inspired by Greek folk songs and instrumental textures and deep enough to reveal all its treasures only after many repeated listenings. Second, for being recorded at the moment when the Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet, a major force in British straight-ahead jazz since '62, had broken up and Carr's equally influential jazz-rock band Nucleus was rising from the ashes.
This 1989 compilation was produced by the late Alan Dell a man of great taste in all things musical. He often played Vikki Carr on his BBC radio shows ad as part of his EMI compilation series focused on many top flight vocalists and this certainly applies to the legendary Miss Vikki Carr.