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Bobby Bennett: When Girls Do It, Jr Wells: Things I Do For You, I'm A Stranger, Little Oscar Stricklin: Suicide Blues, Harmonica Fats: How Low Is Low, Magic Slim: Love My Baby, My Love Is Your Love, Ike Turner's King's Of Rhythm: Down & Out, Sam Baker: Sweet Little Angel, Drifting Charles: Evil Hearted Woman, Drifting Cloud, Memphis Slim: Blue & Lonesome, Donnie Jacobs: Street Walkin' Woman, TV Slim: Heart's Full Of Pain, Don't Knock The Blues, Buddy Guy: Hard But It's Fair, Danny Boy: Wild Woman, Kokomo Me Baby, Jimmy McCracklin: Fare Well, Take A Chance, Mr. Bo: I Ain't Gonna Suffer, If Trouble Was Money, Clear Waters: Hillbilly Blues, Boogie Woogie Baby, Tender Slim: Don't Cut Out On Me, I'm Checkin' Up, Sugar Boy Williams: Little Girl, Five Long Years.

This stuff originally came out in 1971 as a Red Lightnin' double LP which long time collectors may recall as having a very weird cover design. Remember it? A friend of mine paid £45.00 for copy of the LP in an auction last year and now here it is on CD for a fraction of the cost.

The idea of the compilation was to show just how alive and vital blues music was back in the 1960s. Together with performers who went on to attain terrific success, we have here a collection of unknown and obscure musicians who only recorded a couple of sides in some tin-pot studio and then watched the result fade into dust. Nothing wrong with the music - it was just bad management and non-existent distribution that was its downfall.

Whatever the reason for their failure or success at the time, all these musicians enthusiastically tear into their music with a vengeance that gives us some of the most liberating and flamboyant blues ever to get captured on vinyl.

I'm talking about performances like Danny Boy's splendidly easy-rockin' "Wild Woman" - a cool laconic backwoods blues that jerks along with a harmonica rhythm that gets right under your skin. Then there's Buddy Guy's 1962 obscurity from Chess "Hard But It's Fair". This one's a hard hitting big band blues production complete with a soul based girl group and some serious guitar playing by Buddy. Tender Slim is here with both sides of his 1962 Herald single. "I'm Checkin' Out"" which simply rocks thanks to the insistent screaming of Buddy Lucas' harmonica while "Don't Cut Out On Me" rolls along with a hard backbeat, Spann-style piano hammering and some wild guitar from Jimmy Spruill. Speaking of wild guitar, it doesn't get much better than on Ike Turner's "Down And Out", recorded for Artistic in 1968. Tommy Hodge's raw vocals dominate this intense soul-blues number but that's Otis Rush you hear slicing around with his high pressure guitar licks and fills.

Sam Baker was better known for soul records but here he is from 1963 on the obscure Athens label with a creditable version of the old warhorse "Sweet Little Angel" bellowing out the blues with as much feeling as BB King or Buddy Guy. Little Oscar Stricklin is seriously obscure but his "Suicide Blues" is rapidly developing into a favourite. This slow burning deep blues was issued by Palos in 1967 and has Little Oscar getting embroiled into despair as the piano player whomps out some tasty notes and Oscar's strident guitar boils over with some of the most cutting Chicago blues licks since Magic Slim. A little beauty. Did somebody mention Magic Slim? He's here too with a heart rending version of "Love My Baby" which is dominated, naturally, by his trademark effervescent guitar playing while singing himself into the same hole Oscar Stricklin's in.

One of the toughest items here is Mr Bo's wonderfully emotional "If Trouble Was Money". It's a big time blues number with Bo hollering out great lyrics while the band roll on and on with soaring horns, pounding drums and Bo's own spectacular guitar work. Three minutes of undiluted blues power.

This review can only hint at the quality of the stellar material on this fabulous CD. The blues in the sixties was sizzling and they've put hottest on this five star CD. Buy this!

Ask for STERN1. Only £8.75 plus p&p




Review Date: March 2009

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