Tommy Ridgley / Bobby Mitchell

In the Same Old Way: The Complete Ric, Ron and Sho-Biz Recordings

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Continuing their trawl through the vaults of Joe Ruffino's legendary New Orleans R&B labels Ric and Ron, Ace pairs the complete Ric and Ron recordings of Tommy Ridgley with the complete sides of the singer's friend and follower Bobby Mitchell. The reason they're paired on a single disc instead of showcased on an individual title is simple: by 2015 standards, neither cut enough material to fill out a CD. Ridgley came much closer than Mitchell, though. Between 1960 and 1963, he put out six singles on Ric, which amounts to a total of 16 songs, none of which saw much circulation outside of New Orleans due to Ruffino's preference not to license his singles to larger labels. Ridgley did see one of his singles reach the charts in 1962, when Atlantic released the atypical instrumental "Jam Up" -- one of only two singles the label released from sessions they held for the singer -- and it took off, meaning Ridgley's only hit doesn't fit his sweet, supple voice. In the Same Old Way certainly does place the focus on his singing, not just because it contains the 16 sides he cut for Ruffino but because Mitchell shows a clear debt to Ridgley's easy touch. Mitchell's six songs show slightly more sweetening than his idol's -- with its flutes, "Just Say You Love Me" is pretty sticky, while "You're Doing Me Wrong" is accentuated with party noises; he hits harder on the classic "Well I Done Got Over It" and "Mama Don't Allow" -- but Ridgley also slid into softer territory on the string-laden "Heavenly," "Honest I Do," and "I've Heard That Story Before," plus he was happy to dabble in novelties, turning Jesse Hill's "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" into "The Girl from Kooka Monga." Usually, though, Ridgley was a great disciple of Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, specializing in warm-hearted, easy-rolling R&B. Ruffino's tendency to flesh out the productions means that Ridgley's singles feel more like records than performance, which is an attribute: the best of them -- which is pretty much anything that's not a sugary ballad -- feel like they'd still kill on any jukebox in any bar across the country.

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