The predecessor to this album, "The Early Jin Singles" (surprise, surprise!) took us from Floyd Soileau's start of the Jin label up to 1961 - a fairly short period but coincident with the release of the most well known swamp pop numbers, many of which were released on Jin. This one picks up where the early one, left off, taking us through the 60's. During this timeframe the first Brit rock explosion occurred with several UK bands, not just the Beatles, meeting with success in the US. This put more pressure on Floyd to come up with the goods to keep the customer buying. Swamp pop music had always been a form of music constrained by its defining elements, even more so than basic rock'n'roll. As the 60's progressed, swamp performers pushed the limitations in various ways in order to retain and attract custom - for example, the covering of country standards, particularly those from Don Gibson, in the trappings of swamp music. Other artists moved more towards soul music, from Memphis or beyond, which itself broke big in the 60's. There's an argument that swamp was not a million miles from soul anyway, with both forms of music dealing with strong emotions - soul, also, was essentially southern music even if not principally from Louisiana. But over time these attempts were largely doomed to failure as newer forms of music supplanted swamp and Louisiana rock'n'roll in even the regional charts. As a consequence, this album contains far less clearly defined swamp than its precursor but still has some fascinating items.
Covers of national hits by local artists often with characteristic bayou touches like accordions or booming horns became a major thread in the Jin release programme. The most famous of all of these, at least in the UK, is Johnnie Allan's take on Chuck Berry's "The Promised Land" featuring cajun performer Belton Richard with his accordion for the break rather than the usual Berry guitar - apparently the break was overdubbed by Floyd. Even though cajun and swamp don't sound at all similar it was not at all unusual to have this cross breeding between the apparently different forms of music - the sort of local bands represented here could well play rock'n'roll, swamp pop, national hits plus the odd cajun number all in one evening. Of the two other Johnnie Allan tracks contained, one is also a cover, this time of Charlie Rich's "Lonely Weekends" which though professional, doesn't add any value to the original - and Rich's voice is hard to compete with. The last Allan offering is an original, "Pont Breux" which claims to be a parody of Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song". This isn't really my cup of tea I'm afraid.
The other track with which most readers will have some familiarity is "Sweet Dreams" from Tommy McLain. Tommy was the bass player with Clint West and the Boogie Kings who feature strongly on this album. The song, not to be confused with the Eurhythmics number, is a country ballad which was a pop crossover hit from the pen of Don Gibson of which there have been many covers from Patsy Cline up to Reba McIntyre - both the Gibson original and the covers still get radio play. Tommy's version slows the number down and increases the drama quotient. I should add that there's a good picture in the notes of big Clint (behind his drum kit) plus the Boogie Kings showing young Tommy on left handed bass guitar. The more recent version of Tommy is considerably more hirsute.
Elsewhere we are poorly served for swamp pop on this album. The excellent "Lover's Plea" from Lee Martin and Skip Stewart's "Take her back" are the only ones which really qualify. Rockin' Sidney's "It really is the hurting thing" is close - it relates more to blues/ballads like the slow Slim Harpo tracks and Jimmy Reed's "Honest I do".
But there's still some good music here. The previously mentioned Clint West & his "Fabulous" Boogie Kings (their adjective not mine but wouldn't necessarily disagree) take on Jon Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillun and do a fantastic job with it. Apparently originated in some informal messing about in the studio. They effectively turn the number into an instrumental. Their take on James Brown's "Night Train" is also good - imagine it went like a bomb live. The other two West tracks are well performed soul numbers, "When my heart hurts no more" originally a country song, and, another James Brown one, "Try Me" - it seemed as the 60's moved forward Clint and band were moving themselves more to a blue-eyed soul outfit.
There's another very good soul cut in Margo White's version of Bobby Bland's slowie, "I'm not ashamed". Rod Bernard and Clifton Chenier turn up in tandem again with a good version of Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll".
And that's about it. The other tracks are mostly rockers with the odd instrumental thrown in; they're well performed and often with a Domino flavour.
A decent set but lacking the intensity and originality of the swamp tracks on the "Early Jin Singles". But if you like that you'll probably like this.