Various Artists

Swamp Blues

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An instant classic when it was released as a double LP in the U.K. in 1970 by Mike Vernon's legendary Blue Horizon Records, Swamp Blues isn't technically an Excello Records product, but all of the veteran blues artists included in the set have strong ties to the Louisiana label. Vernon recorded everything included here in Baton Rouge over the course of four hot summer August days in 1970, and ended up breaking the two resulting LPs into a 12-song band set and followed it with a 12-song set that featured these blues artists working solo (in this CD reissue, obviously, the solo sides simply follow the band sides with no break in between). Not as loose and bayou atmospheric as Jay Miller's famous Excello productions, these tracks still have that swamp something going for them, and the whole collection is a wonderful testament to Excello's stable of blues artists. Highlights include Whispering Smith's funky "Cold Black Mare" and his harmonica-and-foot-stomp-accompanied "Baby Please Don't Go," Silas Hogan's wry "Dry Chemical Blues," Arthur "Guitar" Kelley's poignant "How Can I Stay When All I Have Is Gone," and Clarence Edwards' stark and acoustic "Cooling Board." Considered a stone cold classic in Britain, Swamp Blues should be afforded the same pomp it's due in the States. It's that good.

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