28 hot rockers, cool boppers and Cajun thumpers from Louisiana and South East Texas. This exciting new addition to our popular “By The Bayou” series features 28 tracks from the vaults of Louisiana and South East Texas record men J.D. Miller, Eddie Shuler, Sam Montel, Pappy Daily, Huey Meaux, George Khoury, Joe Ruffino, Diamond Jim Wheeler and Melvin Dodge, plus tracks by Louisiana artists recorded by Murray Nash and Dee Marais. This might be the 16th in the series but it continues to unearth unknown goodies and dust off long-forgotten gems.
Sweet Dreams: Where Country Meets Soul, Ace's second dip into the country-soul well, is every bit as good as its 2012 predecessor. Basically, it's cut from the same cloth as the first volume, concentrating on recordings from the late '60s but stretching deep into the '70s (Millie Jackson's "Sweet Music Man" dates from 1977), with Ted Taylor's 1962 "I'll Release You" and Orquestra Was' 1996 "Forever's a Long, Long Time Ago" functioning as de facto ringers. "Forever's a Long, Long Time Ago" may fit aesthetically but certainly not sonically, as it's a crisp digital blast on a collection devoted to warm, lush, analog soul.
This is a wonderful but very underrated debut album from progressive Norwegian Popol Vuh (NOT the more recognizable German krautrock band!), who in 1975 (after two albums) changed its name to Popol Ace. Their eponymous long play was released in 1972 on Polydor label and today is considered by many listeners a progressive masterpiece with slightly jazzy and bluesy feeling, with many tempo and moods changes and plenty of acoustic/electric guitars, Hammond organ, electric piano, mellotron and ﬂute interplay. This carefully remastered CD edition is necessary for fans of early Genesis, Caravan, King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Focus & Jethro Tull.
John Hammond's latest album marks a major departure in one respect – for the first time in anyone's memory, he sings, but plays nothing on one of his records, while Little Charlie & the Nightcats, led by guitarist Charlie Baty, handle the guitars and everything else. The difference is very subtle, the playing maybe a little less flashy than Hammond's already restrained work – think of how good Muddy Waters sounded on the early-'60s records where he sang and didn't play. And that comparison is an apt one – even more than 35 years after he started, Hammond inevitably ends up sounding like its 1961 and he's working at Chess studios in Chicago, cutting songs between Muddy Waters sessions. Harpist Rick Estrin also contributes a smooth and eminently enjoyable original amid a brace of covers of blues standards. There is not a weak number here, and this band is a kick to listen to, sounding more naturally authentic than anybody in the 1990's has a right to (Baty's quiet pyrotechnics on "Lookin' for Trouble" would make this record worth owning, even if Hammond's singing and the rest of the songs weren't as good as they are).