Thursday, 17 September 2015

"Wow, Wow, Baby! 1950s R&B, Blues & Gospel From Dolphin's Of Hollywood" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2015 Ace Records CD – Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...We Don’t Want No Chaperone..."

Back in the 1990s England’s Ace Records bought the Dolphin catalogue and has maintained a steady stream of reissues ever since. “Wow, Wow, Baby!” is the latest instalment (May 2015 on Ace Records CDTOP 1438 - Barcode 029667071529) which offers up 24 rare cuts - many of which are Previously Unreleased. As usual with these obscure label CD compilations - it’s a strange mix of the utterly pedestrian and the refreshingly brill – with the spread being about 80/20 in favour of the better stuff.

The 12-page colour booklet has expert info from liner-notes king TONY ROUNCE with photos of characters like Scatman Crowthers, Chuck Higgins, Marvin & Johnny, Floyd Dixon, Memphis Slim and Jimmy Witherspoon to name but a few. A and AA label repros of those rare 45’s and 78’s on the Money and Cash labels pepper the text as does a not-so-complimentary description of John Dolphin’s delightful business practices and lack of financial morality (what a guy). The remasters are by long-standing engineer DUNCAN COWELL and once again he delivers really clean transfers – plenty of oomph and bottle where needed without being over-egged for the sake of it (61:45 minutes).

Earl Burton’s “Sleep, Drink And Play”, the Coasters-witty “Traffic Ticket” by Big Boy Groves and the girl-bopper “Hey Rube” by The Mellow Tones are amongst the better R&B dancer tracks - but a lot of the other slow blues tunes like Little Margie’s “Years And Tears Ago”, James Reed’s “My Love Is Real” and Marvin & Johnny’s “Yak Yak Woman” refuse to really ignite (feeling a little plodding if the truth be told). The two holy-roller tunes “Step In The Right Direction” and “I Need The Lord To Guide Me Everyday” feel out of place too and wooden.

Better is Floyd Dixon who puts in two wicked Fats Domino shuffles on “Oh Baby” and “Never Can Tell (When A Woman’s Going To Change Her Mind)” while the Bluesy crawl of “Lonely, Lonely Woman” by Little Eve is suitably mournful. Jimmy Witherspoon features on two cuts – the mooching “S.K. Blues (by Saunders King) and the saxophone dancer “Teenage Party”. Tap Anthony & His Orchestra give us “Fancy Pants” which sounds like a post World War II dancefloor jive (it’s a great instrumental).

The coolest cut on here is probably “All Messed Up” by Vernon Anders which is about a woman “whose knock-kneed and bow-legged” but thankfully our Vernon “loves her so...” In fact it’s amazing how many women in these songs are bald-headed but still mightily attractive to the singer (what a gent). “Teenagers Only” (lyrics above) has Little Margie singing with her girls about not wanting any chaperone when they start rocking with that saxophone (if you know what Margie’s saying baby). It ends well on the “oh yeah” call and response of Chuck Higgins when his band and The Mellotones tear up the studio like they’re on a Little Richard recording.

Another belter from Ace – someone should give these guys a medal... 

This review and 155 more like it are available to read in my SOUNDS GOOD Music Books Series. Check out the BLUES, VOCAL GROUPS, R 'n' B and R' n' R Version on Amazon as a Kindle read...


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