A pioneering black-owned record label, United Records featured many obscure (and a few famous, such as Jimmy Forrest's "Night Train") and rewarding recordings during the 1951-57 period. This excellent sampler features jumping jazz, blues, R&B and gospel performances. Two of the selections are previously unreleased alternate takes and there are also ten numbers that are appearing on CD for the first time. One comes away from this program impressed by both the high quality of the music and the wide range recorded for United. Jazz is represented by baritonist Leo Parker, altoists Chris Woods and Tab Smith, the tenors of Jimmy Coe and Paul Bascomb, and Jimmy Forrest and guitarist Tiny Grimes with some of those performances crossing over into R&B. Also featured in excellent form are Roosevelt Sykes (an exciting alternate version of "Fine and Brown"), Junior Wells, Robert Nighthawk, the multi-instrumental Ray McKinstry (heard on all of the instruments during "Dinah"), the Four Blazes and the Pastels. In reality, all 22 numbers have their exciting moments. In time all of these recordings will certainly be reissued by Delmark on more complete CDs but this is a superior sampler, perfect as an introduction to this vintage music.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow