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Pachuko Hop, CD (£7.43)
There can be few better reasons for reissuing a record because of its arresting cover design than the one that justifies our HP edition of greasy sax specialist Chuck Higgins’ original Combo album “Pachuko Hop”. The somewhat undressed delights of Bila Hugg (wife of the legendary – and, sadly, now late – Los Angeles R & B DJ ‘Huggy Boy’) provide the perfect greeting for some of the raciest and rawest R & B ever to emerge, often somewhat sloshed and slightly slurring, from Combo prexy Jake Porter’s home studio in the early 1950s. The fact that Chuck was essentially to the saxophone what I am to the Black & Decker cordless drill did not deter those who queued round the block to see him blow his wig (quite literally, as the late CH was a prominent exponent of the ill-fitting ‘syrup’) in clubs and auditoriums across South Central Los Angeles. And the tracks that make up the original ‘Pachuko Hop’ album capture him at his most wild, often with a little bit of vocal and piano-pounding help from ‘Young John Watson’, whose first session its title track was.
Connoisseurs of original album covers will be especially pleased to have this terrific set with this particular sleeve design, as Jake Porter was soon forced to withdraw it by what he termed ‘the authorities’. Seems ‘they’ took exception to the fact that it had a virtually unclad white woman on its front and a swarthy, honking sax blaster on the back. A tad too liberal, it seems, even in the somewhat more integrated environs of 50s Los Angeles…