Various Artists

Flashbacks, Vol. 1: High & Low Drug Songs

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Listeners under the impression that drug music began with "White Rabbit" and ended with "White Lines" would be wise to pick up the first and best volume in the German Trikont label's excellent Flashbacks series -- compiling 25 jazz, blues, and vocal cuts from the first-half of the 20th century, the set documents World War II-era vice and sin at its finest, deftly mixing radio hits with utter obscurities. The songs range from the benign (Gene Krupa's "Feeling High and Happy") to the explicit (the Memphis Jug Band's "Cocaine Habit Blues"), and while some of the selections are clearly reaching to justify their thematic inclusion -- Bukka White's immortal "Fixin' to Die Blues" almost certainly has nothing to do with "fixing" in the junkie lexicon sense of the term -- the pacing and sequencing are dead-on, and even novelty throwaways like Harry "The Hipster" Gibson's "Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs. Murphy's Ovaltine?" stand up to repeated listening in this context. Excellent remastering and liner notes (in both English and German) round out the package.

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