Although the Prisonaires are remembered for the song "Just Walkin in the Rain," this collection proves that they were a fine pop/gospel group. Johnny Bragg was a huge fan of the Ink Spots and their lead singer, Bill Kenny, and it's no wonder that much of the material on this disc has that smooth crooning style favored by pre-rock & roll vocal groups.
The double-disc set Molly O'Day & the Cumberland Mountain Folks contains all 36 tracks that O'Day recorded for Columbia Records between 1946 and 1951. O'Day was one of the most important female country singers of the '40s, but she never attained the stardom she deserved because she retired from the business in 1951. Nevertheless, her music has come to be regarded as some of the finest of her era, especially considering how she could make traditional mountain music, both sacred and secular, come alive. Molly O'Day & the Cumberland Mountain Folks preserves her classic sides in a classy fashion, and any musicologist or dedicated fan of string bands needs the compilation in their collection.
Eddie Noack had a rough '50s, working hard and never scoring a hit, but that's nothing compared to his '60s. After he was dropped by Mercury, the singer wound up drifting to Allstar, a fly-by-night Nashville indie that specialized in "song poems" – suckers would send in lyrics and pro musicians would set them to music, for a fee – and found space for Noack, a songwriter who had success, but a singer who had none. At Allstar, he was usually able to record his own songs, but Noack wound up chasing trends instead of setting them. Specifically, he wound up cutting several singles in the style of Buck Owens & the Buckaroos, sides that may not have charted but illustrated Noack was a pro, capable of following shifting fashions and delivering upon them ably, even appealingly.
In May 1956, the Texan label Starday issued a wild rockabilly single by Thumper Jones. Its top side, the kinetic “Rock It”, was primal, uncontrolled and wild. The flip, “How Come It”, was less frenzied but still driving and infectious. Original pressings of the two-sided pounder in either its 45 or 78 form now fetch at least Ј200. This is not your usual rockabilly rarity though. The record’s label credited the songs to a Geo. Jones. Thumper Jones was a pseudonymous George Jones (1931–2013), who was cashing in a hip style: the only time he did so with rockabilly.
In the world of music, there was never anyone quite like ARTHUR 'BIG BOY' CRUDUP. Rooted in the Mississippi Delta, his style was propulsive, melodic, original, and profoundly soulful. If he wasn’t 'The Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll', as one LP proclaimed, there’s no doubt that rock ‘n’ roll owes a debt to his songs, including That’s All Right Mama, My Baby Left Me, Rock Me Mamma, So Glad You’re Mine, and Mean Ol’ Frisco Blues, as much as to his tight, swinging brand of rural blues.
The mambo has become fashionable again lately, but for Tito Puente it has never gone out of fashion. In 1957 he cut two stellar albums for RCA, but just how good they were didn't become obvious until the advent of the CD. The full, rich sound on these LPs is nothing short of astonishing. This is mambo at its most ecstatic: blasting brass, sensual saxes, and that irresistible Afro-Cuban rhythm section led by Tito, Ray Baretto and Mongo Santamaria. This set contains 23 titles, including 3-D Mambo, Mambo Gozon, Conga Alegre, Hot Timbales…. etc.. Ay! Ay! Ay!
In 1993, Bear Family released Night Beat/Mucho Puente, Plus, which contained two complete albums – Night Beat (1957) and Mucho Puente (1964), both originally released on RCA – by Latin jazz giant Tito Puente on one compact disc.
8-CD box (LP-size) with 47-page book, 137 tracks. Playing time approx. 725 mns. The third German Jazz Festival in 1955 was a four-day event that featured nearly 30 groups and soloists. It was recorded by Deutsche Grammophon for release on Brunswick, but only parts of it were released on long-deleted EPs. The complete tapes survived though. The 1954 festival was also recorded, but only the portion issued on an EP was saved. Now the surviving portion of the 1954 festival and the entire 1955 festival are issued complete by Bear Family on eight CDs.
Twelve years after they released their first Merle Haggard box, The Untamed Hawk, Bear Family delivered the sequel, Hag: The Studio Recordings 1969-1976. This picks up where The Untamed Hawk left off, which is more of a musical dividing point than it initially seems. If The Untamed Hawk caught Haggard as he was reaching full flight, Hag captures him in his prime, as every single he released reached the Country Top Ten – often capturing the number one slot – and as he sometimes crossed over into the pop Top 40. Hag was without a doubt the biggest star in country music but the remarkable thing about his reign at the top was that he never played it safe.