• Rhythm & Blues Records presents a new series of double CDs highlighting the 240 or so songs most frequently performed by British beat and blues artists. Volume One spotlights the pre-Beatles skiffle and folk era and ties this in to the Blues Boom group material of the late 1960s. Three further volumes concentrate on Merseybeat, the London scene and the jazz and soul sounds that influenced the mod movement. In the late 1960s, when US college youth were likely to buy anything British labelled ‘heavy', ‘progressive' or  ‘blues', the brand-leaders of the British Invasion: The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Ten Years After, The Jeff Beck Group and Led Zeppelin were, without exception, born out of the American music included in this fascinating collection.

    Teenagers in post-war America weren't particularly fond of folk, blues or country and western; that was the stuff that their parents liked. Yet to some of their counterparts in ration-book Britain, this music seemed to offer messages from an intriguing culture half a world away. Lonnie Donegan's hit album 'King of Skiffle' engendered a craze among British teenagers for reproducing and even recording these sounds in their suburban bedrooms or provincial youth clubs, on cheap guitars and homemade instruments. The skiffle sound spread like wildfire across the UK before its more discerning practitioners reverted, towards a more rock 'n' roll style, taking their fusion back to North America whence it had come, in a 'British Invasion'.


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    FROM ROCK'N'ROLL TO THE END OF THE CARNIVAL More than any other city in the world, New Orleans has been responsible for shaping the sound of twentieth century popular music. Sweeping statement that may be, but as the birthplace of jazz, funk and arguably rock’n’roll, it really has no other contenders. At the heart of these three widely different varieties of music lies the rhythmic complexity of second line parade drumming. Its two-beat patterns combining military band and Caribbean rhythms underpin the early recordings of Louis Armstrong as much as they do those of Little Richard and James Brown. Discs One & Two of this set cover the classic period the New Orleans r&b and rock’n’roll and feature records which most people would now identify as quintessentially New Orleans. On discs Three & Four, we find the music on the cusp between the end of the rock’n’roll era and the birth of soul music. The tracks on discs Five and Six reflects the final move towards more soulful productions and present the best music produced in the city before the entire scene finally scattered and the musicians dispersed in 1963-64. After spending the last couple of months basking in the aural joy of this label's Rhythm & Blues Chronology series covering the 1940s, I've reached the conclusion that anything which comes off the Rhythm and Blues Records production line is bound for 'top of the stack' status. This exquisitely packaged 6 CD set, presented in a handy hard-back book format, pushes every button a fan of Blues, R&B or Rock “n' Roll might have. Here's 160 - yes, 160(!) tracks starting with Rip It Up by Little Richard in 1955 all the way to Huey 'Piano' Smith and his Clowns Talk To Me Baby in 1962. The journey from disk 1 to disk 6 is an education, made more so by Nick Duckett's 24 pages of comprehensive notes which forms the central section of the package. A fine collection like this will always remind us that, no matter how long you've been around and listening to R&B, there's still a helluva lot we've missed. Names which represent true rarity, often by long-vanished single record artists whose fine work may well have been buried by time but for the forensic research and digging by true aficionados like Mr. Duckett. There are some terrific items which have been hitherto unreleased, such as Leonard Carbo's I Don't Want To Lose Her, Larry Williams' Oh Baby, Tommy Ridgley's dynamic Real Gone Jam or the quirky Tell Me The Truth by the Turquinettes. In fact up to 50% of these records feature names a great many of us, R&B devotees or not, may well never have heard of, yet everything on this glorious hours-long listening spree will serve to remind us all that Chicago, New York, Memphis and L.A. may have been important spokes on the blues and rock wheel, but New Orleans was the hub. There is a unique, joyous bounce to the Louisiana sound. It emanates from the small, passion-packed studios which echoed to the rolling rhythms of Professor Longhair and the cheeky thrust of Fats Domino, both of whom feature here, as well as dozens of other luminaries such as Art Neville, Frankie Ford and TV Slim. If you can't afford the fare to New Orleans, then this is a highly economical alternative. I've been firing up my gumbo and stirring my jambalaya to these records. We could all do with a touch of Mardi Gras in our dour British winter - and these six platters will turn anyone's front room into North Rampart Street. I suppose by now youve reached the conclusion I like this. Damn right - highly recommended. ROY BAINTON RANDB032
  • THE HARRY SOUTH BIG BAND WITH GEORGIE FAME AND THE DICK MORRISSEY QUARTET When the BBC invited pianist/composer and arranger Harry South to front his own big band for a special edition of its flagship radio programme Jazz Club in 1960, few could have predicted the broadcast’s fall-out. Although the Beeb would offer a similar helping hand to other British jazzmen in the decade ahead – making big band leaders of a range of leading figures from Humphrey Lyttelton to Stan Tracey – none of these other bands evolved quite like South's. Beginning as a showcase for his distinctive, often darkly dramatic, original material, and operating as a 'jobs for the boys' forum for those British modernists he felt closest too (among them Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrissey and Joe Harriott) the sheer clout of South's star-packed aggregation ensured it soon attracted interest from outside the normally closed borders of jazz purism. Indeed, when Yeh Yeh hitmaker Georgie Fame decided to pursue his wider musical ambitions, he chose South and his big band as his collaborators, creating the album Sound Venture, a cross-over classic that has become one of the iconic LPs of the decade. Assembled from South's own tape archive, and featuring a wealth of PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED material, including NINE killer Georgie Fame tracks, Further South is both a prequel and sequel to that landmark achievement, a four-disc document of one of the most vibrant times in British music, a souvenir from the days when Swinging London created its very own sound from a heady amalgam of small band Hard Bop, Big Band Swing, R&B and Soul. Containing no fewer than ten complete radio sessions by South's big band (and two by the Dick Morrissey Quartet) and packaged with rare period photographs and an extensive booklet essay by award-winning saxophonist and author Simon Spillett, this set is a must-have for all fans of British modernism. RANDB051
  • British record buyers had to wait until 1960 to hear the great American albums of 1959; John Coltrane's debut LP, Charles Mingus's Ah Um and Horace Silver’s Blowin' the Blues Away. On the home front, in December 1959, Tubby Hayes was already absorbing influences from these albums while cutting his latest LP, Tubby's Groove. This 4CD set pits Britain’s finest jazz tracks of 1959-1960 up against the very best music coming out of the States at the same time, showing that British modernists could at last stand tall among jazz music’s giants. Compilation Nick Duckett Sleeve Notes Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson RANDB049
  • The studio is dark; voices can be heard approaching its main doors. Soon, a flick of a switch brings light, which reveals a white walled room full of musical instruments of every shape and size, glistening under the rays thrust upon them, all fighting for space with a plethora of recording equipment already set up. The voices heard earlier, now file in through the doors. The room falls silent as a piano lid is lifted to reveal black and white keys that stare back at the man now carefully placing his long fingers upon them. ‘Ok chaps’ he says, ‘shall we give the first number a run through?’ The arranger had arrived, the process had begun… Harry South may not be a household name in the UK, but among its jazz world of the 50s to the late 60s, it was held in very high esteem. Even when jazz fell into a sharp decline in the UK mainstream in the late 1960s, you couldn’t hold a man like Harry South back. By then, mainly writing for film, theatre and TV, he composed perhaps one of the most iconic television themes of all time – The Sweeney. This set contains over 60 tracks all written by Harry, the majority of them from the decade 1956-1966 when British jazz was at its peak and ranges through soul jazz, bebop, Latin stylings and funky 60s big band sounds. The Harry South family have kindly allowed us to access their archives and most of the tracks are receiving their first release. ‘Sure, you can learn a lot listening to other people on record’, Tubby Hayes said in 1957, ‘but Harry taught me more than I ever got from records’. RANDB040
  • As the UK fired up to the 'White Heat' predicted by its new Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the nation's jazz scene was already aglow with talent, both established and up and coming. Indeed, London was a boiling crucible of jazz invention, mixing R&B, Hard Bop and a pinch of the Avant-Garde to forge its very own alchemic brand of jazz. Soho Scene '64/'65 captures this moment perfectly, a time when The Beatles and Bond were both new and fresh and when Brit-Jazz sounded as colourful and swinging as anything sashaying down Carnaby Street. RANDB058
  • Just before the United States joined the Second World War, Jazz was at a crossroads. Big Band Swing was at the height of its popularity amongst white jazz fans, but black audiences were tiring of the bland, easy listening fare being served up by the likes of Glenn Miller. It was high time to put some excitement back into jazz, and the ‘honkers and screamers’ were in the right place at the right time to do it. Jazz purists hated it, but the public lapped it up. This set brings together all the jazz and R&B instrumentals that reached the R&B charts between 1942 and 1963 and draws a connecting line between Swing, Bebop, Boogie, Jive, Mambo, Rock’n’roll, culminating in the funky organ grooves of Booker T and Jimmy Smith. It still has the irresistible energy that seduced so many in the Forties, Fifties and Sixties and changed the character of popular music forever. We couldn't get all the hits even on to 4 CDs, so there is an extra 2CD set available as a free bonus set only available direct from us. RANDB050
  • Here’s a selection of cracking R&B instrumentals, and scarcely a chart hit amongst them. Guitar-led rockers from the West Coast, with fiery picking and heavy blues/rock riffs from Johnny Talbot, Travis Wammack and Roy Buchanan and some early fuzzbox action from Lou Josie of the Ho-Dads. There’s Louisiana sounds from Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack and Robert Parker with Mid-West guitar grooves by Tommy Tucker, Freddy King and Little Milton. Up in New York, you’ve got B.B. King, Wild Jimmy Spruill, and King Curtis blowing out on Soul Train. Dave Lewis and The Exotics were from Seattle and there’s even a Canadian group, future comedian Tommy Chong’s Little Daddy & The Bachelors. These are the records Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Dave Davies, Jeff Beck et al were listening to in 1964. An extra 2CD set is available as a free bonus only if bought direct from us. RANDB053
  • This set brings together the finest R&B instrumentals recorded between 1956 and 1957, putting the spotlight both on long-forgotten records by established artists and fabulous obscurities by long-forgotten ones! It’s a cracking compilation from start to finish: Mid-West electric blues, Southern swamp rock, spicy New Orleans rhythms, sophisticated West-Coast productions and East Coast city blues, dominated by guitarists and saxophonists but interspersed with a few organists, accordionists, pianists, harmonicists and even a unitarist. All in all, 120 mighty instrumental stompers from 1956-57, R&B-style. Glorious stuff! An extra 2CD set is available as a free bonus only if bought direct from us. RANDB054
  • Includes fully illustrated booklet. ‘You might think that when you’ve been around for a long time and love music as much as we all do at Blues Matters, that we might become a little blasé receiving CDs to review. You’d be wrong...This is a staggering project, a sheer delight...You can stick a pin in anywhere and come up with a gem of a recording. What these records will present to even the most avid R&B aficionado is a revelation... lifting the lid on a buried treasure chest of arcane recordings, all in a style decades ahead of their time... Every one of these tracks is utterly satisfying. If you’re a true R&B fan, you will not experience a finer collection this year or any other. Exhilarating, educational, historical, but above all, extremely musical, a complete evening’s unforgettable R&B entertainment...Think you know your blues history? Think again. As this has taught me, you’re never too old to learn.’ ROY BAINTON Blues Matters RANDB047
  • Includes fully illustrated booklet. RANDB025
  • Includes fully illustrated booklet. When many of these records were cut I was 4 years old and playing in the rubble of a bombed-out Hull, courtesy of the Luftwaffe. Back then, in the UK, any one of these 111 (yes, 111 even!) tracks would have given the BBC a coronary thrombosis because the nearest we got to black music was the bellowing burnt cork of Al Jolson. Following the previous R&B Anthology sets from R&B Records, I knew I’d be in for more thrills with this and I’m not disappointed, yet restricted wordage here precludes a full ecstatic overview. However - if you thought big strident in-your-face electric guitar chords arrived in the 1960s, check out 1947’s Midnight in The Barrel House by Johnny Otis. And there’s Dizzy Gillespie, Mahalia Jackson and even Hank Williams and Merle Travis. Needing wild, wanton and utterly danceable? You need Fluffy Hunter and Buddy Banks with the manic piano of Fluffy’s Debut. Disc 2 is replete with rare gems too. The sorely neglected Andrew Tibbs pre-empting Jerry Lee Lewis’s Wine Spodey-Odey by over a decade with the rousing Drinking Ink Splink. This is a magical mystery tour with Madam Ira Mae Littlejohn’s boisterous Go Devil Go and even a 1947 Muddy Waters with Gypsy Woman, contrasting nicely with the raucous front porch fiddling of Harry Choates and his Hackberry Hop. By the time you reach disc 3 you feel like you’ve drunk a half bottle of Bourbon. Amos Milburn kicks in with a rolling Chicken Shack Boogie, the sinister, dark and energetic 1948 cut of Hooker’s Boogie Chillen, Nellie Lutcher’s uplifting Fine Brown Frame and the honking saxes of The Twister by Paul Williams, the scintillating acapella harmonies of the Swan Silvertone Singers. Disc 4 boogies along just as agreeably with The Beale Street Gang’s Fat Stuff Boogie, followed by Arthur Smith’s seminal guitar hit, Guitar Boogie, there’s more 1948 Muddy Waters, a bouncy Pettin’ and Pokin’ by Louis Jordan and 20 other delights. This hefty collection curated by Nick Duckett, who also provides the entertaining liner notes, feels like stumbling into a sealed cave of musical pirate treasure; golden nuggets, jewelled crowns, dancing diamonds and rhythmic rubies. Sometimes musical history can jolt you from the terror and torpor of the present and take you to a long forgotten place of joy. That may sound like Pseud’s Corner, but these R&B Anthologies do it for me. Try it - you’ll be well rewarded. ROY BAINTON RANDB024