Various Artists

Rhythm 'N' Blues, Vol. 1-2

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Rhythm 'n' Blues, Vols. 1 & 2 is a good idea for a CD reissue, combining the contents of two multiartist compilations devoted to the Imperial, Aladdin, and Post vaults, issued in 1969 and 1970, respectively. Volume one, originally subtitled "The End of an Era," presents a brace of mostly never-released sides from the early '50s, by such varied acts as the Mellow Drops, with the jaunty blues novelty number "I Want You Love," the Shaweez and "No One to Love Me" (with its almost burlesqued mournfulness), the Spiders and their slow ballad "You Played the Part," the Pelicans with their slow, radiant "Chimes," the Hawks' soaring, ebullient "He's the Fat Man," complete with a killer sax solo, and closing with the beautifully smooth, rippling, rocking "Ray Pearl" by the Jivers, an outfit that also recorded as the Centars. Volume two, originally called "Sweet and Greasy," brings to the table another 14 songs of similar vintage -- the Pelicans in a pair of delightful up-tempo tunes, "Miss Lucy" and "Down in Mexico," the Fidelitones with their heavily falsetto-laden, radiant "Is It Too Late," the Crystals' free-flowing, bouncy "I Love My Baby" and "I Do Believe," and the Robins (easily the best known group here) with the bluesy "Around About Midnight" and its heavy guitar accompaniment. As usual, BGO has endeavored to provide state-of-the-art sound by finding the best quality tapes, though in the case of the Avalons' tracks, which close the second volume, there may not have been any first-generation masters -- otherwise, the sound quality is a treat for the ear.

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