Various Artists

Treasures from the Vault of Cobra Records

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Wow, they did it this time! Reissue imprint Fuel Records doesn't always get it right when it comes to their releases. Often the packages are hastily assembled, have bad sound, or when they are compiled properly, don't provide enough documentation (liner notes and discographical information) to make the presentation authoritative. That said, this collection of rare sides from the Cobra and Artistic labels, which existed on Chicago's West Side between 1956-1959, is a treasure trove of alternate takes, first offerings and singles by those acts who simply vanished into the musicological ether. Cobra was the label that cut the first sides on Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Magic Sam. But it also laid down the debut offerings of Betty Everett, Shakey Jake, Lee Jackson, Guitar Shorty, and Clarence Jolly just to name a few more. The 16 songs here feature two alternate takes by Guy (of "This Is the End," and "You Sure Can't Do" with split lead duties by Ike Turner), two more alternates by Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm ("I'm Gonna Forget About You" and a burning "You Got to Lose"). Of the actual singles are those debut cuts by Everett ("My Love" and "My Life Depends on You"), Lee Jackson ("I'll Just Keep Walkin'"), Duke Jenkins ("The Duke Walks"), Little Willie Foster ("Crying the Blues"), and Harold Burrage ("Messed Up"), to name a few. This is a killer comp. Its sound is perhaps as good as it can be, which is good to very good, but what makes it so worthwhile is the historical context that Bill Dahl's liner notes put these cuts in. This is a job well done and is highly recommended to fans of the electric blues, R&B and doo wop.

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