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Gumbo Stew (MP3), MP3 (£7.99)
There could be no finer introduction to one of New Orleans R&B's finest labels - AFO - than Gumbo Stew. This CD features classic material from Willie Tee, Barbara George, Tami Lyn, Alvin Robinson, Prince La La, Eddie Bo and, of course, Dr John. AFO (an abbreviation of 'All For One') was formed in New Orleans in 1961 by ex-Specialty A&R man Harold Battiste and fellow musicians - or executives - Melvin Lastie, Alvin 'Red' Tyler, Roy Montrell, Peter 'Chuck' Badie, and John Boudreaux. As hit-making session men they had seen a constant stream of white independent record owners pillage the talent that abounded in New Orleans. They hit the charts almost immediately with Barbara George and I Know (You Don't Love Me No More), which reached No 3 in the national pop charts in that very first year. However, chart activity was short-lived. Juggy Murray spirited Barbara away to Sue Records. AFO continued to release class records by young artists like Dr John and Eddie Bo, but in 1963 Harold Battiste moved to the West Coast where he went on to produce Sonny & Cher's I Got You Babe and Dr John's Gris Gris album. Compiled by John Broven (author of the classic book on New Orleans R&B Walking To New Orleans), Gumbo Stew is a long overdue in-depth look at one of New Orleans' finest little labels.