Various Artists

UK Sue Label Story, Vol. 2: Sue's Rock'n'Blues

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Volume one of Ace's series of compilations devoted to sides released on the British Sue label in the 1960s concentrated on the most popular records Sue released; Volume Three focuses on soul music issued by Sue. What does that leave for Volume Two? American rock & roll, blues, and R&B from the late '40s through the mid-'60s, the only common link being that it was all put out in the U.K. by Sue. Since soul was the strongest part of Sue's catalog, that alone means that this installment is inferior to its soul-based predecessor. A more serious drawback, however, is that this is a pretty haphazard mix of material, and while it's not quite random, it's not too cohesive, either, or of such consistently high quality that the uneven mix of styles doesn't matter much. As for the obscure stuff, there are a bunch of pretty standard-sounding blues/R&B/rock & roll tunes that rely on stock riffs and don't stand out as especially worthy of pursuit, unless you're trying to accumulate as much of this sort of music from the era as possible. In keeping with the way things often work on these kind of anthologies, the best tracks are the best-known ones, and/or the ones by the most famous artists, and there are a bunch of such high-caliber items here: Buster Brown's "Fannie Mae," Otis Redding's raw early single "Shout Bamalama" (crossing Little Richard with Gary "U.S." Bonds), Etta James' "The Wallflower (Roll With Me Henry)," Elmore James' "It Hurts Me Too," Lightnin' Hopkins' "Mojo Hand," Paul Revere & the Raiders' wild, early-'60s instrumental "Like Long Hair," the Righteous Brothers' "Little Latin Lupe Lu," Ronnie Hawkins' "Forty Days," James Brown's "Why Does Everything Happen to Me," and John Lee Hooker's classic, early electric blues "Boogie Chillun." But really, the kind of collector apt to like and want those songs already has them several times over, or can easily find them on reissues more coherent than this one. The obscurities here aren't so cool that the CD's worth buying just for those, though there are a few decent ones here: J.B. Lenoir's 1963 single "I Feel So Good," Homesick James Williamson's electric version of "Crossroads," B.B. King's "You Never Know," and Professor Longhair's "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand" (which, though bearing his songwriting credit, is clearly based on the folk song "Baby Let Me Follow You Down").

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:31 Amazon
2 2:46
3 1:53
4 2:32
5 3:04
6 2:08
7 2:13
8 2:50
9 2:48
10 2:23
11 1:59
12 3:05
13 3:06
14 2:12
15 3:03
16 2:30
17 1:52
18 3:02
19 2:18
20 3:09
21 2:13
22 2:21
23 2:57
24 2:15
25 2:28
26 3:31
blue highlight denotes track pick