Louisiana's Excello Records was launched in 1952 as a subsidiary to Ernie Young's Nashboro Records, but the patented swamp sound of the label didn't fully emerge until four years later when producer Jay Miller came aboard in 1956. Full of bayou atmospherics and a characteristic muffled drum sound that recording engineers all over the universe have been trying to duplicate ever since, Miller's productions are instantly recognizable for their ragged, live-sounding looseness, and whether they are called Louisiana R&B, swamp blues, or swamp pop, they all share the patented "Excello Sound." This set collects two dozen (five of which are released here on CD for the first time) of Miller's more R&B-oriented singles, all recorded between 1956 and 1962, including King Karl's driving "Baby Baby Come to Papa," Charles Sheffield's odd and woozy "The Kangaroo," Tabby Thomas' horn-driven "Popeye Train," Marva Allen's elegant plea "Here Comes the Night Owl," and Joe Mayfield's powerful and mournful "How's Things with You," among others. It all makes for a wonderful immersion in some of the rare corners of the Excello universe.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett