Kendra Steiner Editions (Bill Shute)

July 22, 2020

Rhythm ‘N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou · Bop Cat Stomp—By The Bayou, Volume 21

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Rhythm ‘N’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou · Bop Cat Stomp—By The Bayou, Volume 21

Ace Records UK, released 2019

by the bayou 21

Volume 21 of Ace’s “By The Bayou” series of compilations, dedicated to various genres of late 50’s/early 60’s small-label sounds from Southwest Louisiana and East Texas, returns to R&B, with a strong 28-track collection of obscure and raw material from the vaults of local record-men such as Jay Miller (from Crowley, LA, the producer most associated with swamp blues), Eddie Shuler (from Lake Charles), Sam Montel (Baton Rouge), Floyd Soileau (Ville Platte), and Huey Meaux (Port Arthur, TX). Only 12 of the 28 tracks were issued at the time (though some crept out on obscure LP’s later, sometimes hampered by crude overdubs, thankfully removed here), and it’s safe to say that even those will be new to most ears.

Many of the artists are trying for the appeal of such successful Louisiana recording artists such as Guitar Slim or Earl King, though often with a twist of zydeco influence and less of a New Orleans beat (Route 90, now known as I-10, separates the core area of the album’s music from N.O.). Also, these records were made during the rock and roll era, so while the artists may be rooted in R&B, most wanted to play music that would also appeal to fans of Little Richard…while not alienating older listeners who might prefer T-Bone Walker. That’s certainly a demanding tightrope to walk, and the artists here approach it from many different angles, so there is a lot of variety here, and the album is programmed to highlight the diversity of sounds.

More than half (15 of 28) of the tracks come from Goldband, certainly one of the most raw and downhome of labels in what they released, so you can imagine how primal their unreleased material would be. Musicians taking guitar or sax solos are off-mike, the horn voicings are a bit imprecise, and the chord changes are not always made by everyone at the same time—but that’s the joy of small-label local recordings. They capture living, breathing roots musicians in real-time and in one-take in a way that slicker R&B recordings do not.

The best-known artists here (all represented by rare tracks) are Rockin’ Sidney, Clifton Chenier, Cookie & The Cupcakes, and Big Walter Price, but the lesser-known Lester Robertson or Leroy James or the ‘unknown’ artists all rock the house equally well. Another essential entry in an amazingly deep series.

lake charles


Here’s Ace’s promo video for the album


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