Various Artists

The Later Jin Singles: The Promised Land

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This anthology's predecessor, The Early Jin Singles: Southland Rock'n'Roll, focused on singles released by the small Louisiana Jin label between 1958-1961, which helped set the model for the swamp pop sound. The Later Jin Singles picks up right where that set left off, with 26 tracks from 1961-1976, though all but a handful of these are from the early to mid-'60s. (To be technical about it, three of the songs didn't appear on singles, though all of the rest did.) It's less rockabilly-oriented than the first volume, but otherwise the swamp pop on this CD is pretty similar -- almost surprisingly so -- to the sounds Jin had laid out in its earlier days. It's got that same relaxed, unpredictably varying mix of several strains of Louisiana roots music: blues, country, rock & roll, doo wop, Cajun, and zydeco. Usually, though, there's enough pop/rock involved to make it more rock music than anything else, if sometimes only marginally so. Only two of these songs were hits, Tommy McLain's ballad "Sweet Dreams" becoming an off-the-wall number 15 smash in 1966, while Johnnie Allan's 1971 cover of Chuck Berry's "The Promised Land" has sold a good deal of records over time without ever charting in the U.S. or the U.K. (where it became pretty popular). Yet most of these tracks have an appeal beyond genre specialists; even if they don't sound like they necessarily should have been hits, the performances are spirited, the sound good despite the label's limited resources, and the songs varied. Some of the more notable entries include Rockin' Sidney's "You Ain't Nothin' but Fine," a pretty rockabilly-like tune for a performer usually classified as a zydeco artist; Billy Lewis' "Growing Old," and Lee Martin's "Lover's Plea," both of them dead ringers for late-'50s Fats Domino tunes; Rockin' Dave Allen's spooky swamp blues "My Little Darling"; Clint West's raw soul-rock take on John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillun"; and Margo White's "I'm Not Ashamed," which sounds a little like Irma Thomas' early sides. The total absence of turkeys also helps make this much more worthwhile than most single-label anthologies of releases by small regional rock/roots companies. It's exactly the kind of thing you'd like to have playing in the car if you're driving through Cajun country and want some appropriate ambient music that you haven't already heard dozens of times.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:08
2 3:21
3 1:42
4 1:59
5
2:12
6
2:49
7 2:00
8 1:52
9 2:04
10 2:46
11 2:03
12
2:35
13
2:00
14 2:12
15 2:50
16 2:23
17
2:08
18 2:55
19 2:13
20 2:24
21 2:17
22 2:22
23
2:27
24 2:23
25 3:23
26 2:33
blue highlight denotes track pick