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.
Having come to the U.S. from his native Nigeria to study medicine, percussionist Babatunde Olatunji eventually became one of the first African music stars in the States. He also soon counted jazz heavyweights like John Coltrane ("Tunji") and Dizzy Gillespie among his admirers (Gillespie had, a decade earlier, also courted many Cuban music stars via his trailblazing Latin jazz recordings). And, in spite of it being viewed by some as a symbol of African chic, Drums of Passion is still a substantial record thanks to Olatunji's complex and raw drumming.
All of Sleepy LaBeef's most important records – from his early singles for Starday to his latter-day sides for Sun – are included on the mammoth, six-disc box set Larger Than Life. LaBeef recorded for a number of different labels during his career, and during that time, he explored a variety of roots music, from rockabilly and country to blues and soul. Spanning three full decades, Larger Than Life contains 158 tracks, including all of his recordings for Starday, Dixie, Columbia, and Sun.
Perhaps the most difficult thing in writing about a box set like this is how to convey in words – few or many – the magic, wonder, and intimidating musicianship that is contained on these recordings. Over four CDs, the seeds, roots, branches, and trees of a musical partnership were formed and lived out on the public stage, and remain all but unknown to those who were not country music fans during the era. While one Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant compilation has appeared on Razor & Tie, as a single disc it only begins to offer the legend of this pair of musical innovators.
Ferlin Husky shares billing on his volume of Bear Family's ongoing rockabilly and country-boogie series, Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight, with Simon Crum and Terry Preston – two aliases he adopted in the thick of and at the start of his career, respectively. Unlike Collectors' Choice Music's 2002 collection Country Music Is Here to Stay, the focus of this 2016 set is not on the novelties of Simon Crum. Instead, this rounds up 32 sides Husky recorded in any incarnation, with the uniting factor being its swing.