Piano Red had been playing professionally for about a couple of decades before making a proper start to his recording career in 1950, by which time he was almost 40 years old. The six years covered by this 30-track compilation were nevertheless the first six years he was able to make records, landing big R&B hits with "Rockin' with Red," "Red's Boogie," "(Right String Baby But) The Wrong Yo-Yo," "Just Right Bounce," and "Layin' the Boogie." All of them are on this CD, which makes for about as lengthy a survey of his work during this era as is likely to be issued. It's consistently lively, often boogie-based piano jump blues/R&B that occasionally takes steps toward rock & roll, though Piano Red would change his name to Dr. Feelgood by the time he experienced his greatest success with the rock & roll audience. In addition to a couple dozen studio sides, there are also six fine, well-recorded songs from a live 1956 show in Atlanta. This might be too unvarying a dose of piano-based early- to mid-'50s R&B at once for those who don't dig the style intently, but you should certainly check this out if you're a fan of, for instance, Professor Longhair. It's got a similar sense of good-humored bounce, if not as much of an idiosyncratic character.
Diggin' the Boogie 1950-1956 Review
by Richie Unterberger