Various Artists

Still Groove Jumping!: 16 Classic Rockin' R&B Tracks From RCA's Groove Label

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Bob Jones was one of those rock & roll true believers who existed entirely behind the scenes. A record collector who parlayed his love for old records into a career mastering for such specialty reissue imprints as Charly, Ace, and Bear Family, he also ran his own vinyl-only reissue label called Detour Records in the '80s. Jones dug deep into the vaults of several labels and assembled tight, thematic collections that packed a real punch, but unfortunately they, like the 45s he compiled, never saw a revival in the CD age. As a tribute to the departed Jones -- he died of cancer in 2009 -- Bear Family reissued five of these collections in 2014, including this 1987 LP, Still Groove Jumping, which was an explicit sequel to the 1983 LP Groove Jumping. Groove was RCA's 1953 attempt to get back into the hopping R&B and blues market, an audience they'd abandoned late in the '40s, and while they didn't rack up many successes -- only Mickey & Sylvia's 1957 single "Love Is Strange" was a genuine hit -- they did record a lot of terrific, rocking blues and R&B in the mid-'50s, much of it featuring Mickey Baker's wild guitar. Baker doesn't possess any individual credit here, but he's still prominent, spitting out great, wild guitar that's rivaled by that of Roy "Mr. Guitar" Gaines, who opens the proceedings with the breakneck "Right Now Baby" and "All My Life." Gaines showed up on the first Groove Jumping, as did Mr. Bear, whose lascivious growl is in full effect on his four sides (including two near-eponymous cuts, "The Bear Hug" -- a slow shuffle that seems to yearn to be a dance craze -- and "Mr. Bear Comes to Town"), and the Du Droppers, who only contribute the swinging ode to booze "Drink Up." Elsewhere, there are lots of old blues guys pushed into a modern R&B style -- Champion Jack Dupree, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, and Piano Red among them -- and that raucousness is the appeal of Groove. Maybe the label didn't score smashes, but it sure sounds like they were having a ball trying to make a hit.

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