Various Artists

Mobile Strugglers & Louis James' String Band

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Two unrelated string-band sessions are combined on this CD reissue. The Mobile Strugglers originally only had two numbers released from 1949 but on this set there are seven tunes (including five that have vocals). Comprised of violinists James Field and Charles Jones, guitarist Paul Johnson, bassist Wesley Williams and Lee Warren on mandonlin and banjo, the primitive but charming performances capture a now-lost rural musical tradition; highlights inlcude "Memphis Blues," "Fattening Frogs for Snakes" and "Billboard March." The second half of this CD showcases violinist Louis James (who switches to clarinet for one number) in a 1965 trio with guitarist Ernest Roubleau and bassist August Lanoix. Although enjoyable if taken in small doses, James' limited ideas run thin after a while. Ironically his repertoire is pretty wide, ranging from swing tunes and the waltz "After the Ball," to an "Untitled Quadrille Tune" and "King Bolden's Song" (which sounds like an ancestor to "Up a Lazy River"). But overall, this CD is recommended more for historians than for casual listeners.