Hardly have we savoured the full taste of “Rhythm ’n’ Bluesin’ By The Bayou” than here comes another bucketful of steaming South Louisiana gumbo and this time it’s “Bluesin’ By The Bayou” – a spicy mix of guitars, harmonicas, and even the occasional accordion, accompanying those tales of despair or machismo that are the recipe for the blues.
All the tracks stem from the studios of J.D. Miller in Crowley and Eddie Shuler in Lake Charles. These two men were wonders at spotting talent and getting the best out of the performers, as illustrated on the 28 tracks on this CD.
Half of the songs are heard here for the first time, while the other half have appeared before on obscure 45s or long-deleted reissue LPs. Of the previously unissued numbers, some are alternate takes; they are not included just because they are alternates, but because they have something to offer and deserve to be heard.
The three earlier CDs in the “…By the Bayou” series made you feel like dancing. This collection makes for more reflective listening; maybe you’ll pick a little air guitar along with Lightnin’ Slim et al as you drink in the atmosphere of a juke joint on a steamy Louisiana night.
With blues giants Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester, Slim Harpo and Lonesome Sundown augmented by lesser-known talents such as Silas Hogan, Jimmy Dotson, Joe Rich, Jimmy Anderson and Tal Miller, plus a touch of Zydeco from Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis and Thaddeus Declouet, this is the first CD of its kind to be issued for many a moon.
Europeans took real notice of the blues some 60 years ago when Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters first crossed the Atlantic, but it wasn’t until a band of enthusiasts founded the groundbreaking Blues Unlimited magazine at the start of the 60s that we began to discover just how much of this music was out there and how many obscure records there were to collect. And here we are, 50 years down the line, and still learning. So, whether you are an old-school blueser or new to the genre, there is something here for you
The ongoing joy of sifting through the tapes in the Miller vaults, which provide the backbone of this series, plus the hundreds of tracks already transferred, means that there will be more to come in the “…By The Bayou” series. Who knows what previously undiscovered gems may lie in the next unlabelled box to be opened.
In the meantime, let’s get groovin’ to some downhome blues – pass the jug!
By Ian Saddler