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Hidden Charms (RBLP001 )

Tampa Red's Hokum Jug Band, Bumble Bee Slim, Kansas City Kitty & Georgia Tom, Lucille Bogan, Cannon's Jug Stompers, Henry Brown, Jack Kelly & His South Memphis Jug Band, Pink Anderson & Simmie Dooley, Harum Scarums, Nelson's Paramount Serenaders, Pinetop & Lindberg, Bobby Leecan's Need-More Band, Memphis Night Hawks, and Boodle-It Wiggins .

What's this? Red Lick reviewing one of those twelve inch pieces of black plastic? In this all-shiny post-turntable world, isn't this a bit of a retrograde step? Are they out of their tiny minds?

Well, probably yes to the last one but, hell's teeth, there are times when something so special, so lovely and so enticing comes along that the temptation it brings just has to be yielded to. And this, my friends, is one such occasion.

First up, get a load of that evocative cover. Doesn't this just remind you of the albums you used to snap up in dark and dingy record stores all those years ago when you were on the search for the real authentic bluesmen? And, just read through the list of artists that feature on these quite wonderful 14 tracks. I don't know them all (or didn't before I slit open the cellophane and investigated further) but there is no denying they are the real deal - hard hitting country bluesmen, hokum and jug bands, medicine show songsters and hot jazz orchestras.

Truth be told, this looks and feels so good and so right, that I wanted a copy all to myself before I'd heard a note played. It comes as a very special bonus therefore that the actual music is a riot -  just get a load of the Tampa Red's Hokum Jug Band on You Rascal You or the fantastically named Bobby Leecan's Need-More Band on Wash-Board Cut-Out. There is more life in this music than in a whole David Attenborough TV series

Every one of these tracks is a blast, and the fact that so many of them are obscure is a testament to the love, care and effort that has gone into researching and producing what must have been a massive labour of love.

And, I nearly forgot to mention the accompanying booklet. A beautifully prepared 12 page A4-sized thingy, with great photos and visuals that wrap around a well-researched and written narrative from renowned blues scholar, Alex Van Der Tuuk.

The only downside is that it is a limited edition and will no doubt sell out at some point. To end on a bright spot, though, Volume 2 is already being planned!


Review Date: April 2012

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