BEAR FAMILY PRESSE Magazin: NOW DIG THIS Ausgabe 11 - 2019
BCD 17512 V.A. "Blues Kings Of Baton Rouge"
This comprehensive overview of the Baton Rouge blues scene is a difficult collection to review for the discerning denizens of NDT-land, as it isn't 100% rock n roll. It covers, more or less chronologically, what came to be known as the Excello Sound between 1954 and 1971, and covers early deep blues, pioneering research into old folk blues forms, old-timey rural charm acoustic blues and on into solo revivals of blues forms for the white college crowd. But, on the way, it includes some original rock n roll classics from some amazing talents, especially the wonderful Slim Harpo and cool. cool Lazy Lester.
I will concentrate on these rocking styles, as is only right and proper. Slim Harpo's genius emerges on his original 'I'm A King Bee', a fabulous piece, and great hit, where his nasal delivery over the menacing effects is hypnotic and magical. I always felt a bit sorry that the buzz and string effects are a bit too buried in the mix, though. That nasal voice also registers on 'One More Day' with its nice lumpen beat and good guitar. 'Rainin' In My Heart' is pure swamp pop in a blues context, and just oozes charm, spoken bit and all. 'Baby, Scratch My Back' is another laid-back classic, a long favourite spoken groove, with a couple of nice gimmicks and, yet again, perfect rhythmic feel. Possibly even better is its flip, 'I'm Gonna Miss You (Like The Devil)', proving he couldn't do anything without perfect rhythm.
And all this without the fabulous originals of 'Shake Your Hips' and 'Got Love If You Want It'. You need Slim Harpo in your life. And Lazy Lester. The swamp classic 'They Call Me Lazy' is a perfect example, whereas the uptempo rock n roll classic 'I'm A Lover Not A Fighter' moves perfectly. Lightnin' Slim is always good value, especially when he puts his teeth in, as on the rocker 'Rooster Blues' - parts of which are recog-nisable in The Big Bopper's 'It's The Truth, Ruth'. The harmonica is the main featured instru-ment here, and the feel of Jimmy Reed is all-pervasive.
That Reed groove was really taken to heart down in Baton Rouge, and it made the world a better place. Most of the blues here are good, but the main interest is in that swamp feel, uptempo or slower. The booklet by Martin Hawkins is excellent, and purchase is recommended to those who enjoy black American authentic music, and can take some of the folkier sounds and acoustic blues.