Blues Source (March 2010)
It seems I’ve been writing for a long time now, about the magical endeavors of harmonica player Bob Corritore, who operates the Rhythm Room in Phoenix Arizona, as well as being a longstanding DJ with local station KJZZ. I’ve seen Bob create some wonderful music, whether it be with his band & peers, or through compilation, which is what this wonderful gem of a CD represents. This is like working as an archeologist and discovering something rare, but not too old. The CD portrays the incredible music scene in the Negro community of Phoenix in the 1950’s & 60’s. The desert city was a big time stopover for blacks traveling between Texas and Southern California in those days, and the city featured several venues where big shows were held, and traveling musicians could come and play or listen. This compilation is from all genres of African American music including soul, blues, R&B, gospel, rock & roll and even a little doo wop. They were picked from the extensive and rare record collection of John Dixon, with whom Bob used to help decide the CD’s playlist. A staggering 27 tracks are here, which by this reviewer’s account is a record for a single disc, and 12 of them were previously unreleased. These great songs were recorded mostly from old 45 records in Monophonic, and were first issued on rare labels like Friendly, Stacy, Ronn, Top Rock & Felder just to name a few. There were many great performers in those days, and Bob & John included several of those musicians here, with some having two or more tracks included on the CD playlist.
One of the big sounds from that era came from Jimmy Knight. With his swaying, lowdown saxophone and rock & roll style, he seems to have written the book on this genre of Phoenix blues. Other performers showcased here include L.P. “Big Pete” Pearson, Reverend Overstreet Singers, The Curtis Gray Combo, The Tads, Duke Draper & the Lamb Chops, Dennis Binder, Dumas King, Bud Spudd & the Sprouts and John “Oklahoma Zeke” Lewis. These are just a few names from the list of performers this desert city’s great musical past had to offer. Many more musicians are also included here as well. This could very well be the CD of the year. If they give awards for best compilation, then this one has a sincere chance of running off with the prize. A must for anyone looking to explore new and undiscovered territory. Lets hope there’s a volume two!
– Dirk Wissbaum
Blues & Rhythm Magazine (UK) (Spring 2010)
SWMAF stands for Southwest Musical Arts Foundation, a non-profit musical arts society, run by harp-man and all around good guy Bob Corritore and, from the CD number, I guess this is their seventh issue. It is a cracker of a disc, just the way I like ’em, chock full of obscure vintage recordings from the ’50s and ’60s covering blues, r&b, soul, gospel and more besides. The ink between these diverse tracks is that they were all recorded in Phoenix, Arizona, not a place that readily springs to mind when considering black recording locales. Most of the recordings were cut at the Audio Recorders studio and issued mainly on obscure local labels, many established by the artists themselves to sell 45s at their gigs. The previously unissued sides have been disinterred from studio tapes where they have languished for half a century waiting for digital release.
The star of the show is Jimmy Knight, a blond-haired, blue-eyed guitarists who based his whole musical style and persona on Ike Turner. In the ’60s he was known around town as the ‘white Ike’, on and off the stage, even his group’s name the ‘Knight’s Of Rhythm’ (sic) referenced Turner’s band. The collection is topped and tailed with Knight’s ‘Flyin’ High parts 1 & 2 (Top Rock CP-7037) a sparkling sax and guitar workout sounding like a ‘Prancin” out-take with loads of typical Turner-like whammy bar distortions. This single was released in 1962, as was another Knight single (Phynk 1753), in collaboration with vocalist Henry ‘Mojo’ Thompson, titled ‘Little Ann’, in tribute to Tina Turner who was called Little Ann when she first recorded with Ike in 1958. This track is a storming rocker, blessed with a tough vocal, roaring horns and more of Jimmy’s hot guitar. Knight shows he can also play the blues on two L.P. ‘Big Pete’ Pearson songs. ‘Heartache’ sounds like a Bobby Bland tune and ‘Just One More Drink’ is a super-fine mid-tempo blues in which Big Pete sings a familiar blues sentiment: ‘give me one more drink and I won’t get drunk again’.
Pearson has gone on to record a couple of albums produced by Bob Corritore, the first of which featured Ike Turner, while Jimmy Knight died in the seventies but can be seen backing Ike & Tina on the 1965 TAMI show footage. Yet another Turner connection was Dennis Binder, who was in Ike’s band in the fifties and recorded for Modern during an extensive series of 1954 sessions in Clarksdale. In 1960 Binder was touring with his band that included A.C. Reed on sax, Vincent ‘Guitar Red’ Duling on guitar and Bob Prindell on drums, and by the time he got to Phoenix he was ready to record, cutting two sides of which ‘Love Call’, an amusing talking blues, is included here.
More moody blues comes by way of Roosevelt Nettles with a Bland-ish outing on ‘Heartache And Troubles’ (Bamboo 45-851-B) complete with strings and two rather routine blues from John (Oklahoma Zeke) Lewis (although both have amusing lyrics). Much better is the down-home outing by one man band The Lone Wolf (Bob Felder), whose ‘Jumpin’ Baby’ sounds like ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby’, while his ‘I Still Love You’ has a distinct swamp blues feel with a complete disregard for meter in the lyrics. These cuts were issued on Felder 45-851, of which only two copies are known. You want hen’s teeth? Here they are. Speaking of rare, how about the introspective blues of Yancy delicacy from the Unknown Blues Singer, who recorded the moving ‘It Hurts Me Too’ live in a Church Hall, replete with clinking crockery in the background.
Three females are featured. Maxine Johnson’s ‘Old Man Mose’ is the weakest track on the CD, irritating vocals singing an irritating song from way back – just as good as when it was no good. Johnnie Mae Brown is better but her version of Lloyd Price’s ‘Have You Ever Had The Blues’ is taken faster than the original with the Mike Condello Combo sounding a bit stiff. Beating these, hands down, is the 1963 cut ‘Oh Johnny’ (Stacy UA 505) by Baby Jean Hamilton, with its strident bass line and powerful vocals. This song is better known as ‘I Miss You So’, recorded by Lillian Offitt, Tiny Topsy, Ted Taylor and no doubt others, too.
As well as the CD title song there are two more instrumentals featured. James C. Arline’s ‘J.A. Rock’ (Friendly FDL-104) is an old-fashioned (even for 1958) piano and guitar workout, which curiously brings to mind Big Maceo. The other instrumental number is an acceptable, but not too exciting, organ and sax, jazz number, ‘Gladys’ Delight’ by The Curtis Gray Combo, presented in stereo.
Gospel hits you full frontal with two fast numbers from the formidable Reverend Overstreet, who rocks the gospel with his raucous flailing guitar on ‘Rather Fight Than Switch’ and a fine call and response outing on ‘Black But Proud’. Even more frantic is Willie Parker & The Sensational Souls’ ‘Leak In This Old Building’ (B and B71). A brilliant gospel call and response with liberal lashings of guitar and tambourine. Parker’s voice reminds me of Sam Moore of Sam & Dave fame. Finally on the spiritual side there is David Bolden’s ‘Cease From Trouble’ (Allstar 45-1001), sounding like a lost O.V. Wright classic. Impassioned gospel soul not to be missed.
Moving on to the soul side we hear the soft melodic voice of Dave Moore in Sam Cooke mould on ‘I Found Out’ while Dumas King’s ‘Wish You’d Come Home’ (Ronn 4B) is bluesy soul of James Brown ilk. Another artist under Brown’s influence is the wonderfully named Bud Spudd and The Sprouts. Bud’s real name was Albert (Junior) Battle and the Sprouts were Duane Eddy’s studio band (Eddy’s smash hit ‘Rebel Rouser’ was recorded at the Audio Recorders studio) and ‘The Mash’ is of course ‘Mashed Potatoes’ with an absolutely infectious bass line riff. Bud’s little disc was first issued in 1962 on EM 1001 but later turned up on Smash 1772, so I guess you could say ‘for mash gets smash’.
More r & b than soul, another artist with culinary leanings is Duke Draper & The Lamb Chops, whose frantic rocker, ‘Sam The Lamb’, is a crazy tale of Mary’s little lamb, told in a fashion that would tear up Harmonica Fats. Drummer Duke Draper’s other side here, simply titled, ‘The Blues’, is a more measured work, a slow blues featuring sax, organ and guitar with a hint of Magic Sam in the guitar and vocal inflection. Finally, there is a juicy slab of doo-wop, Arizona style, from The Tads. Leroy Fullylove’s powerfully lead singing on ‘Hey Little girl’ is a joy to hear.
The notes on the release are rather brief but more detailed notes can be found on Corritore’s website, which I’ve printed and tucked in the CD case for future reference. Would it have cost more to print them in the CD booklet? In these days of digital downloads, it seems to me that to sell CDs, the packaging is the thing. However, compilers and scribes Bob Corritore and ‘Johnny D’ Dixon have done us all a big favour in exposing these musical gems, and I hope that they do for Phoenix black music what Fred James has been doing for Nashville’s. I really hope this release does well and we are treated to more music from Bud, Duke, Fullylove, Overstreet, Baby Jean, and especially David Bolden.
– Fred Rothwell
Blues Blast Magazine (April 2, 2010)
Thanks so much to Blues Blast Magazine for sending this one to me to review. At a time when commercial Blues recording is moving in the general direction of the white line in the middle of the road, it is good to be reminded of the wealth of material recorded in the 50s and 60s that serves as the foundation to contemporary Blues and gospel.
Back in the dim and distant past – well 25 years ago anyway – I was made an honorary deputy sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ. The county seat is Phoenix, which is Arizona’s largest city and state capital – all that aside, I’ve never been to the place before or since, and now I wish I had! Arizona, and in particular Phoenix, had, it seems, a vibrant R&B scene in the 1950s and 1960s and a great deal of it is reflected on this super CD.
The music ranges from early rock and roll, through jump Blues to gospel music and most of it is of the highest quality. Many of the recordings on this CD were made at Floyd Ramsey’s ‘Audio Recorders of Arizona’ studio on North Seventh Street and most of them had the advantage of a highly skilled engineer Jack Miller. Miller was often also link between final recorded versions of tracks laid down in the studio and the artists themselves. A good example is the man known by the name of the Lone Wolf. We do know that this was a man who went by the real name of Bob Felder and that he was a true one-man-band, playing guitar, hi-hat, bass drum and harmonica, and of course singing, in a whirl of activity! Little else is know about him. Two of the three tracks that he laid down, two are included on this CD, and they are, in my humble opinion, worth the price alone.
Check out too, Rev. Louis Overstreet, a native of Louisiana, who stopped in Phoenix with his wife and four sons whilst making an intended emigration to Los Angeles. Overstreet reported that God told him to stay in Phoenix and before long, he was spreading the gospel 365/24/7 from his base at the St. Luke’s Powerhouse Church of God in Christ. Well, powerhouse is a good word here. The two tracks here “Rather Fight Than Switch” and “Black But Proud” are wonderful examples, of the sermonizing-in-song typified, 20 years before, by the work of the Rev. Samuel Kelsey and others. Powerful, foot-tapping, hand-clapping examples of truly spiritual music.
There are 27 tracks on this essential CD, and unfortunately, I do not have space to commend them all. But I cannot leave this review without mentioning the delight of listening to the track laid down by what is referred to as an “unknown Blues singer”, of the Elmore James/ Tampa Red classic, “It Hurts Me Too”. Apparently a mystery man who was present at an earlier recording session at a church hall, I asked if he could play the piano whilst people cleared up after the gig and it got recorded. What a performance! Another one which – alone – is worth the price of the CD.
This CD was compiled and produced by John P. Dixon and Bob Corritore. Corritore is a long time Blues musician, publisher, historian and proprietor of the Rhythm Room, Phoenix, Arizona’s famous Blues Club. The tape and disc transfers were made by the man who was often the original recording engineer, Jack Miller, at Jack Miller Productions, using WAVES Restoration software. Great job Jack!
It is possible you may find this one a bit hard to come by but my advice is don’t give up. Frankly, I cannot praise it enough!
– Ian McKenzie
Blues News (Finland) (April 2010)
FLYIN’ HIGH (SWMAF 07)
(1) Flyin’ High pt 1 – Jimmy Knight & His Kings of Rhythm (2) Jumpin’ Baby – The Lone Wolf (3) Heartaches and Troubles- Roosevelt Nettles (4) Rather Sight Than Switch – Rev. Overstreets & Templettes (5) Wish You’d Come Home – Dumas King (6) Oh Johnny – Baby Jean (7) Little Ann – Jimmie “Playboy“ Knight, vcl Henry “Mojo“ Thompson (8) Love Call – Dennis Binder (9) J.A. Rock – James C. Arline (10) A Woman 73 – John “Oklahoma Zeke“ Lewis (11) The Mash – Bud Spudd & The Sprouts (12) It Hurts Me Too – Unknown* (13) Sam The Lamb – Duke Lamb & The Lamb Chops* (14) I Still Love You – The Lone Wolf (15) Gladys’ Delight – Curtis Gray Combo * (16) Cease From Trouble – David Bolden (17) Leak In This Old Building – Willie Parker & The Sensational Souls (18) Heartaches – L.P. “Big Pete“ Pearson w. Jimmie Knight* (19) Hey Little Girl – Tads* (20) Old Man Mose – Maxine Johnson w Buddy Milton * (21) The Blues – Duke Lamb & The Lamb Chops * (22) Have You Ever Had The Blues – Johnnie Mae Brown & Mike Condello Combo * (23) One More Drink – L.P. “Big Pete“ Pearson w. Jimmie Knight* (24) Black But Proud – Rev. Overstreet Singers (25) I Found Out – David Moore* (26) Give It Back – John “Oklahoma Zeke“ Lewis* (27) Flyin’ High Pt. 2
Koostajat Bob Corritore ja John Dixon myöntävät auliisti, ettei Phoenix ole ensimmäinen mieleen tuleva paikkakunta, kun ruvetaan muistelemaan mustan musiikin huippusaavutuksia. No, eipä olisi vuosi pari sitten uskonut sitäkään, että Phoenix Coyotes menee heittämällä NHL: n pudotuspeleihin.
Kovin outoja nimiä on kappaleluettelo pullollaan, ja julkaisematonta aikamoinen läjä. Ei ihme, että arvelutti, mutta Jo ensikuuntelulla selvisi, että koostajien kuvaus “ a power packed collection of 27 vintage tracks of urban and back porch blues, soul searching ballads, rockin’ r&b and testifying gospel from Arizona“ on varsin osuva. Täältä ei parhaalla tahdollaankaan löydä mustan musiikin merkittävimpiä suorituksia, mutta levyä on harvinaisen mukava kuunnella. Ja vaikka pariin otteeseen täytyy vähän päätä pudistella, niin varsinaista vitutusta tyyliin “ja NYT riitti jumalauta“ ei ilmennyt kertaakaan. Hyvän kiekon merkki jos mikä…
Heikoimmat hetket lankeavat valitettavasti naisten kontolle. Johnnie Mae Brownin (22) on tyhjänpäivänen tusinablues, ja (20) alta kymmenvuotiaan tenavan riemastusta sittäi, että vanha Mose on kupsahtanut. Vuosikertakamaa, mutta ei kiitos. Vihossa on oikein tekstitkin, mutta ympäripyöreää lätinää (se selvisi, että ihan Elviskin on konsertoinut Phoenixissa), ja lisätietoa kehotetaan kaivamaan nettiosoitteesta http://www.bobcorritore.com/flyinhigh.html. No minä kaivelin ja olihan siellä tekstiä, muttei juuri lisävalaistusta. Esim, Roosevelt Nettlesiä mainita sivustolla ollenkaan, vaikka sinkulla Bamboo 510 ilmestynyt (3) on kaikessa alakuloisuudessaan hyvin vakuuttava esitys aina kitaravetoisesta alusta tummien jousikuvioden sävyttämään loppuun saaka – cd:n soul-kohokohta. Sen sijaan tuntemattoman ukkelin pelkän pianon säestyksellä harjoittelemasta bluesstandardista (12) Corritore on haltioissaan – ikään kuin tämä jonkun kirkollissen tilaisuuden jälkeen puolivahingossa tallentunut nuokkuversio Tampa Red (?)/Elmore James -klassikosta olisi jotain mullistavaa. Joku läpsyttää vaisusti on Jo ylimitoitetun riehakas reaktio. No, osoittaapa Corritoren intoilu ainakin sen, kuinka helppo bluesväkeä on nykyään narrata.
Cd:n tunnetuimmat nimet ovat veteraani Dennis Binder, jonka aikoinaan hyllytetty vinkeätunnelmainen likinstru (8) päätyi miehen parin vuoden takaiselle Earwig-comebackillekin (BN 4-07), ja Arhoolie-LP:llään aikonaan ällistyttänyt hurmosssaarnaaja ja -kitaristi Rev. Louis Overstreet. Mies on taustaryhmineen nytkin kovassa vedossa etenkin raidalla (4), mutta Jo tältä cd:ltä selviää, että paljon järeämpääkin gospelia maailmann mahtuu – pastoriparka häviää nimittäin sekä Willie Parkerin vauhtirunttaukselle että varsinkin David Boldenin hurjalla kurkkuäänellä raastetulle hitaale julistukselle (16) mennen tullen. Viimemainittu on tummasävyisine taustakuoroineen ja kitaroineen cd:n huippuraita. Miehen ääni kuulostaa kovin tutulla ja nimenomaan gospelyhteyksistä, vaikken itse asiassa ole varma onko tämä raita edes gospelia…
Jimmy Knight (oik.Ruven Handle!?) kilisyttelo myös jotain kelloja huterassa muistissani, mutta vasta vilkaisu mainituille nettisvuille palatutti mieleen, että tämä valkoihoinen kitaristinuorukainen kuului vuosikaudet Ike Turnerin Kings Of Rhythm – yhtyeeseen ja oli itse asiassa kuin Iken ja Tinan ottopoika. Lisänimi oli “White Ike“, eikä ihme, kun kuuntelee kaverin huikeaa kitarointia. Hän soittaa Oman kaksiosaisen instrunsa ohella myös raidalla (7), joka olisi ilman tuimaa sooloa aika yhdentekevä tusinarypistys, sekä Big Pete Pearsonin arkisoraidoilla, joiden väitetään periytyvän vuodelta ’60. Kenties, aika vanhahtavaa r&b:tähän nämä ovat, ja vaikka Corritore hyllytystä ihmettelee, niin minä en niinkään – ei hittainesta. Pearson kuulostaa vähän hampaattomalta raisusta yritkesestä – jopa falsettivetäisyjä – huolimatta, nimenomaan fyysisesti. Oliko hänellä (Jo) tuossa iässä tekarit vesilasissa?
Instrut (9.15) ovat ok mutta eivät maailmaa kaada, ja (11) suora kähvellys Nat Kendricks -hitistä “Mashed Potatoes“. Baby Jean (Hamilton) on revetä nauruum raidan (6) lopussa, ehkä siski, että on tarvittu peräti neljä ukkoa (?) säveltämään uudelleen Lillian Offitt-hitti “Miss You So“. Kelpo versioita, ei sinnä mitään. Yhden miehen yhyte Lone Wolf ei lainkaan häpeä kollegojen rinnalla, vaikkei levyä Felder 851 ole löydetty kuin kaksi kappaletta, harva siihen siis pennosensa sijoitti. Firma oli muuten paikallinen, muutenhan näitä on julkaistu Chicagoa myöten, ja yski cd:n omalaatuisimmista valituksista eli Dumas Kingin (5) päätyi Shreveportiin singlelle Ronn 4. Tämä hujellus jos mikä on petraantunut minum korvissani vuosien mittaan kuromasti.
Duke Draper vetelee hurjaa kurkkuääntä raidalla (13), mutta kun lopussa lyödään läskiksi, niin hyllylle jäi. John “Oklahoma Zeke“ Lewis sensijaan sai kiekkonsa (10) jopa julki, ja tässäa bluesissa hän karvaisiin kokemuksiinsa nojaten suunnittelee tiirailevansa jatkossa oman ikäluokkansa tyttösiä. Toinen näyte, hidas mörinäblues (26) lauletaan niin paljon matalammalta, että epäilyttää onko asialla edes sama ukkeli. Puhdasta doowopia täältä ei löydy, vaikka Leroy Fullyloven johtama The Tads sellaiseen varmaan pystyisikin (Leroy on tuttu nimi lauluyhtyekoosteilta). Enemmän siihen suuntaan kallistuu David Mooren tunteikkaasti taustaporukan avulla mukeltama r&b-balladi (25).
Tuli näköjään tuplasti (ellei triplasti) mittaa normaaliarvioon verrattuna, mutta hyvä ja kiintoisa on levykin.
– Juhani Ritvanen
Turning The Tide (May 12, 2010)
This new decade has seen me get lean in the direction of ‘60s R’n‘B while still embracing the folk-rock, surf, pop, garage, and psych sounds of the ‘60s. (I have probably been influenced by the book Sonic Boom reviewed below and revisiting the sounds of the Pacific Northwest.) This complilation disc featuring Phoenix blues, rhythm and spirit from the ‘50’s and 60’ mirrors my recent inclinations along with my long-time enthusiasm for regional history. With its Phoenix Suns’ colors of purple & orange and skycopter aerial photo of ‘60s era Phoenix (which is still more horizontal than vertical in its man-made nature), the top-notch graphic design resembles something that could have been released by Ace Records. Comprised of mostly masters, the sound quality is Grade A. Some favorites include “Oh Johnny” by Baby Jean which has the potential to be one of those perfect records to cover by the Detroit Cobras along with the blazing instrumentals “Flyin’ High Pts.1 & 2” by Jimmy Knight & Knights of Rhythm. Hopefully, there will be future compilations documenting the Phoenix scene of the ‘50s and 60’s that can join the vital place along side of Flyin’ High and Legion City-the CD which unveiled the glories of the mid-’60s garage scene in Phoenix, Arizona from the vaults of Viv Records a decade ago.
Living Blues (June 2010)
Dyke & The Blazers and a recent entry in Numero’s Ecentric Soul series nothwithstanding, Phoenix, Arizona, is seldom credited as a hotbed of blues or soul, but, as annotator Bob Corritore is quick to point out, the city “was a major stop on the Southern California to Texas black travel corridor, with many taking a liking to the sunny weather and setting up shop in the dry desert climate.”
The 27 tracks collected on this anthology date from the ’50s and ’60s and were drawn from the extensive collection of local music historian John Dixon. Parts one and two of the title track by guitarist Jimmy Knight open and close the program. Knight, who toured with Ike and Tina Turner in the ’60s and became known as “The White Ike,” is also heard on two very fine but previously unissued titles by Texas emigre Big Pete Pearson, and on Henry ‘Mojo” Thompson’s Little Ann, a roaring tribute to Tina Turner. Another guitar hotshot, Pete Cosey, appears behind James Brown disciple Dumas King on a 1965 Ronn track, David Moore brings a touch of Sam Cooke, and Roosevelt Nettles serves up an atmospheric Heartaches & Troubles. One-man band Bob Felder, billed as the Lone Wolf, and John “Oklahoma Zeke” Lewis cover the more down-home side of the southwestern blues, as does the unknown pianist who lends a Charles Brown tinge to It Hurts Me Too. Piano is also to the fore on a James C. Arline instrumental, and we get a taste of organ-combo jazz from Curtis Gray along with a King Curtis-inspired rocker by Bud Spudd and The Sprouts with hot guitar from Don Cole. There’s some jumping jive and a slow blues from the multi-talented Duke Draper, who may also be present as a member of The Tads, while the chicks are represented by seven-year-old Maxine Johnson, Baby Jean (Hamilton), whose Oh, Johnny is based on Roscoe Shelton’s Miss You So, and Johnnie Mae Brown, who teams with the Mike Condello combo to cover Lloyd Price’s Have You Ever Had The Blues. Chicago-based pianist Dennis Binder was just passing through with A.C. Reed on sax and Vincent “Alabama Red” Duling on guitar when he stopped to record Love Call in April of 1960, and, last but not least, the church is well-represented by a pair of rough-and-ready sides by Reverend Louis Overstreet (whom Chris Strachwitz recorded for Arhoolie in 1962), the aching Cease From Trouble by David Bolden, and a spirited Leak In This Old Building from Willie Parker & The Sensational Souls.
While the Cd booklet contains a number of artist and label (Bamboo, Friendly, PHYNK, Stacy, Felder) pics, you’ll have to go to Corritore’s website to read the extensive liner notes. The CD itself is a limited edition of the Southwest Musical Arts Foundation, and the variety and quality of the material make it a must for lovers of postwar blues.
– Jim DeKoster
ABS Magazine (France) (May 2010)
Dans les notes de cette étrange et excellente compilation, Bob Corritore se pose implicitement cette question: qui, dans Le amateurs de Soul music, penserait à fouiller les archive de la scène de Phoenix, Arizona Des années 50 et 60? Corritore affirme que cette scène était vibrante et très active. Et IL Le prouve. John Dixon et lui-même Ont selectionné 27 titres époustouflants: r & b, soul, blues old school et gospel électrique au menu. Au début Des années 50, L’Arizona comptait 60 000 Africains-Américains. Il n’y avait pas que John Wayne, Le wiskey et les cactus! Ça bougeait à Phoenix: bars, clubs, églises accueillaient les musiciens de passage qui allaient ou revenaient de Californie, mais aussi les autochtones. La plupart Des morceaux Ont été enregistrés en studio avec un son bien spécifique. Jack Miller, producteur blanc de talent, était aux manettes (on pense à son pendant louisianais, Jay Miller qui enregistra de belles faces pour Excello à la même époque.) Ajoutons à cela Des musiciens et Des chanteurs de grand talent et on obtient une compilation absolument détonnante. J’y AI trouvé mes morceaux de l’été, tant pis pour la trente et unième lambada TF1 sauce 2010… D’abord deux inédits du Reverend Overstreet, qui à l’époque transitait avec sa femme et ses quatre enfants vers la Californie. Son déjanté Rather fight than Switch EST une perle du gospel électrique tendance bourrin. On peut adoucir l’atmosphère en écoutant LeHeartaches and Troubles de Rossevelt Nettles: superbe slow soul, violons et choeurs à faire fondre la brute et Le truand… Autre coups de coeur: l’enflammé Oh Johnny de Baby Jean; Cease From Trouble de David Bolden, poignante ballade blues, ou encore les morceaux du mystérieux Lone Wolf. Corritore a mis en ligne l’histoire de ces chanteurs et chanteuses tombés l’obscurité. La production n’est pas toujours divine, mais c’est ce qui fait Le charme de ce disque abrupt. Cette présentation de morceaux inédits cuits sous Le soleil sec de l’Arizona plonge l’auditeur dans ces temps bénis où la musique se vivait dans l’église de son quartier, au bar du coin ou dans les clubs parsemés dans les rues à angle droit de la cuvette nommée Phoenix. Chapeau à Corritore et Dixon pour cette perle rare du monde musical africain-américain!!!
– Vincent Joos
Crossroads Blues Society (January 2011)
Who would have thought the R&B scene was a really hotbed in Phoenix, Arizona, in the ’50’s and 60’s? The Blazers’ “Funky Broadway” is the only big southwestern R&B hit that came to mind from that era, and I recall that was more a Fort Worth, Texas band. Apparently Phoenix was a big stopover for bands and performers going back and forth from Southern California to and from Texas.
Many of the blues, R&B and gospel greats played there and many great local bands also sprang up and played the local clubs, too. Bluesman Bob Corritore of Phoenix’ Rhythm Room fame, with the assistance of “Johnny D” Dixon, took to Dixon’s extensive collection from his musical vault and came up with these 27 released and unreleased songs highlighting the eras’ R&B, gospel and early soul recordings. This is a superb collection of not-so-widely-known music that will titillate the fans of the genres represented- it is well worth the listen!
Jimmy Knight and his Knights of Rhythm, Jimmie “Playboy” Knight, Big Pete Pearson, Reverend Overstreet, and many somewhat known and somewhat unknown artists appear on this CD. Jimmy Knight plays the title tracks (parts 1 and 2,) which open and close the album. Knight and Company offer a jumping mix of guitar and sax. A classically humorous blues called “Give It Back” is similar to “Gimme Back My Wig” in theme, but asks for even more back. John “Oklahoma Zeke” Lewis delivers this one quite well as he does “A Woman 78”. Bud Spudd and the Sprouts give us “The Mash” and all I wanted after that was a little gravy. The Tads offer up some nice call and response Doo Wop in “Hey Little Girl”.
This is a thoroughly entertaining mix of music that gives the listener an appreciation for the great local acts from Arizona from this era. So many great acts that never really made it are always a part of music history. Here we have tribute paid to some well deserving ones! I loved this one!
– Steve Jones