Robert McCoy

Bye Bye Baby

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If someone is a truly obsessive blues collector -- the kind who loves to check out even the most obscure artists -- chances are that he/she owns some Delmark releases. Delmark's Bob Koester has not limited himself to the bigger names of the blues; he has been great about recording lesser-known bluesmen, and he has been willing to reissue little-known yet worthwhile recordings that many other labels would never bother with. Take Bye Bye Baby, for example. Much of this 2002 release focuses on some 1962 and 1963 sessions that Birmingham, AL, resident Patrick Cather produced for the late Robert McCoy, a gifted but obscure singer/barrelhouse pianist with a Leroy Carr-ish approach. Those sessions resulted in two ultra-rare LPs: Barrelhouse Blues and Blues and Boogie Classics, both of which Cather released on his own Vulcan label. Only about 400 copies of Barrelhouse Blues were pressed, and Blues and Boogie Classics only sold about 100 copies. Why would Koester reissue recordings that sold so little and devote an entire CD to an artist whom only the most knowledgeable blues collectors are aware of? It comes down to two things: Koester's honest-to-God love of the music and the fact that the late McCoy, although far from a star, had a lot of talent. Cather put out a quality product -- not a commercially successful product, but a quality product nonetheless. Although McCoy's Vulcan sessions are the CD's main focus, Delmark also provides several bonus tracks (which include a few 1958 rarities and some previously unreleased mid-'60s duets with drummer Clarence Curry). The sound quality of the bonus tracks isn't very good, but since McCoy (who died in 1977) only recorded sporadically, collectors will welcome them with open arms. And all things considered, Bye Bye Baby paints an attractive picture of the underexposed Alabama bluesman.

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