Monday, 30 August 2010

“Blowing The Fuse – 31 R&B Classics That Rocked The Jukebox In 1958” by VARIOUS ARTISTS. A Review Of The Award-Winning 2006 Bear Family CD Compilation

"…Hound Dog Barking Upside The Hill…Love Is Dragging Him Through The Mill…"

The "Blowing The Fuse" series of CD compilations stretches across 16 volumes from 1945 to 1960 and was then followed by Bear Family's equally magnificent "Sweet Soul Music" series of 10 sets from 1961 to 1970 (I've reviewed all 10 of those in detail). Having been drawn in by the truly beautiful sound and presentation of the Soul discs, I knew it would be a big blow to my bank balance buying even one of these R&B issues - and it was! Get even one and you're screwed - you'll have to own the lot.

"Blowing The Fuse - 31 R&B Classics That Rocked The Jukebox In 1958" is on Bear Family BCD 16713 AS and was released April 2006. Each US-based yearly compilation comes in a 3-way foldout card digipak sleeve. The left flap pictures either a 7" single or album relevant to the year (1958 has the 7" single of "Maybe" by The Chantels), the centre flap holds a 80 to 90 page oversized booklet that slips out so you can read it separately and the right flap a colour-themed CD that matches the outer packaging. As with the 10 "Sweet Soul Music" compilations, each of the 16 R&B spines makes up a whole photo when placed alongside each other (a fantastic black & white shot of a crowd of hip dudes and their gals dancing at some Saturday night bar). As you can see from the cover photos of these compilations too, the theme of people dancing and artists enjoying themselves is repeated right across all of these wonderfully restored photographs (they're from The Showtime Music Archive in Toronto). This 1958 issue has 86-pages in its booklet (yes 86!) and the CD runs to a generous 76:49 minutes.

Dave "Daddy Cool" Booth took his time with this - actually playing the set through - mixing in the famous with the obscure but in a new order - and the result is a truly satisfying listen rather than a patchy one. The compilation begins in January and in rough chronological order ends in December. Also, because of the extended playing time, there's usually only a one second space between each track, so it feels like you're listening to a jukebox of the time - or a good DJ cueing up song after song - seamlessly segueing one cool tune after another. And even the way-too-familiar tracks on here like "For Your Precious Love", "Lonely Teardrops" and "Yakety Yak" are sorted out by the next big plus...the beautifully clear sound...

THE SOUND/TRACK CHOICES:
Bear Family have gotten all the ORIGINAL master tapes from each record company (both Mono and Stereo) and their resident expert JURGEN CRASSER has mastered them with care - and given the wildly varying sources, the sound is uniformly GLORIOUS. The organ on Gene Allison's "You Can Make It If You Try" is incredibly clear as is the blasting brass on the instrumental that follows it - "Walkin' With Mr. Lee" by Lee Allen. The wildness of Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly" is still exciting and the remaster makes you hear the band literally trying to keep up with him as he frantically batters those piano keys. The Doo Wops all sound great despite their varying rough 'n' ready recordings while both Sam Cooke's beautiful "I'll Come Running Back To You" and "For Your Precious Love" by Jerry Butler And The Impressions predate soul by years. "Talk To Me, Talk To Me" by Little Willie John is surprisingly romantic too.

Obscurities and genius choices go to the infectious doo-wop-pop of Roy Hamilton's "Don't Let Go" (lyrics above), while the equally brilliant lyrics of "Itchy Twitchy Feeling" by Bobby Hendricks (a cash-in on Rock'n'Roll song titles) is followed perfectly by the strumming doo wop melodrama of "You Cheated" by The Shields. The Atlantic sides sound fresher too and all of it finishes in a flurry of truly great vocalists - Dee Clark, Jackie Wilson, Harvey Fuqua of The Moonglows, Clyde McPhatter, Fats Domino - all of them sounding like they were recorded yesterday. In fact as you finish listening to 1958, you realise it's an embarrassment of riches - and presented in a genuinely classy way by people who care.

THE BOOKLET:
Although slightly different in layout, like the "Sweet Soul Music" series, the booklet is to die for. With an intro on Page 4, the text for the songs begins on Page 5 and ends on Page 85 (pictures of Fats Domino and his band grace Pages 86 and 87), so there's very little wasted space. Each artist is pictured using quality publicity shots, the 7" single itself is there - or if not a trade advert for the label - and every now and then - a beautiful full colour plate of lesser-seen album sleeves (Lee Allen's rare "Walkin' With Mr. Lee" LP and Little Willie John's "Talk To Me" LP are on Pages 13 and 31 in full-colour and are a wow). Each song then has a 2 to 3 page essay on its history by noted writer COLIN ESCOTT with knowledgeable contributions from BILL MILLAR and DAVE BOOTH and Marv Goldberg's online R&B site. And because the booklet allows Escott to spread out on each song, the details come thick and fast - like Dahl's work on "Sweet Soul Music" - it's a fabulously entertaining and informative read.

Niggles - the glossy card sleeve is easy to smudge and mark and that's about it! Mostly there's just too much great stuff on here to whinge about.

To sum up - even though they're expensive as imports, I think once long-time collectors actually get their hands on even one of these compilations (no matter what the date) - they'll be irresistibly hooked. For the casual buyer just looking for a great one-stop account of R&B Music for a given year - "1958" is 'the' place to start.

Compilations like this live or die based on a few key ingredients - great track choices, properly remastered sound and all of it wrapped up in knowledgeable and (if you're lucky) sumptuous presentation. Well "Blowin The Fuse" wins on all counts - it really does. The entire series is gorgeous to look at and especially to listen to.

As with every single one of the other years in this extraordinary series, I'm properly taken aback - I cannot recommend these beautiful compilations enough. Well done to all involved...

Track List for the CD "Blowing The Fuse 1958"
(Label & Catalogue Number For The US 7" Single Follow The Title. If There's TWO Catalogue Numbers, The First Is The Original; The 2nd Is The Reissue In That Year)

1. Buzz-Buzz-Buzz - HOLLYWOOD FLAMES (Ebb 119)
2. You Can Make It If You Try - GENE ALLISON (Vee Jay VJ-256)
3. Walkin' With Mr. Lee - LEE ALLEN And His Band (Ember 1027)
4. Don't Let Go - ROY HAMILTON (Epic 9257)
5. Maybe - THE CHANTELS (End E-1005)
6. I'll Come Running Back To You - SAM COOKE (Specialty 619)
7. Good Golly, Miss Molly - LITTLE RICHARD And His Band (Specialty 624)
8. Get A Job - THE SILHOUETTES (Junior 391/Ember 1029)
9. Talk To Me, Talk To Me - LITTLE WILLIE JOHN (King 5108)
10. The Walk - JIMMY McCRACKLIN And His Band (Checker 885)
11. Don't You Just Know It - HUEY (PIANO) SMITH And The Clowns (Ace 545)
12. Book Of Love - THE MONOTONES (Mascot 124/Argo 5290)
13. What Am I Living For - CHUCK WILLIS (Atlantic 1179)
14. Do You Wanna Dance? - BOBBY FREEMAN (Josie 835)
15. Johnny B. Goode - CHUCK BERRY (Chess 1691)
16. One Summer Night - THE DANLEERS (Amp-3 2115/Mercury 71322)
17. Willie And The Hand Jive - THE JOHNNY OTIS SHOW (Capitol 3966)
18. Slow Down - LARRY WILLIAMS (Specialty 626)
19. Yakety Yak - THE COASTERS (Atco 6116
[Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller]
20. For Your Precious Love - JERRY BUTLER And THE IMPRESSIONS (Vee Jay VJ-280 and Falcon/Abner 1013)
21. Rockin' Robin - BOBBY DAY (Class 229)
22. Itchy Twitchy Feeling - BOBBY HENDRICKS (Sue 706)
23. You Cheated - THE SHIELDS (Tender 513/Dot 15805)
[The Shields featured Jesse Belvin]
24. Western Movies - THE OLYMPICS (Demon 1508)
25. This Little Girl's Gone Rockin' - RUTH BROWN (Atlantic 1197)
26. Tears On My Pillow - THE IMPERIALS (End 1027)
27. Nobody But You - DEE CLARK With The RILEY HAMPTON ORCHESTRA (Abner 1019)
28. Lonely Teardrops - JACKIE WILSON (Brunswick 55105)
29. Ten Commandments Of Love - HARVEY And The MOONGLOWS (Chess 1705)
30. A Lover's Question - CLYDE McPHATTER (Atlantic 1199)
31. Whole Lotta Loving - FATS DOMINO (Imperial 5553)

3 comments:

patricia said...

muy buena musica te felicito

Anonymous said...

exelente

Mark Barry said...

Thank You

Do buy one of these sets - you won't believe how good they are - and it's a musical journey so worth taking.

Regards

Mark

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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