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on 27 July 2009
This was out in the late 60s on vinyl. Now on CD with a different title and bonus tracks. Don't be fooled by the apparent simplicity of the swamp sound-it is good, very good.
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The late Silas Hogan was one of the foot soldiers of the Excello swamp blues scene. He wasn't as innovative as the likes of Slim Harpo, nor did he satisfy the down home critics like Lightnin' Slim did, but he still could carry a swamp blues number as convincingly as many of the better known names. The lazy, slurring vocals on these tracks instantly conjure up the bayous.

His problem was a rather limited repertoire. Tracks 1 to 9 on this set alternate strictly between fast number and slow number, probably in the same manner as the tracks appeared on his singles - blues on none side and a dance item on the other. His slow blues is the standard slowie that many of us are already familiar with from the likes of Lightnin' and Lonesome Sundown. The up-tempo one, however, do show more variation particularly as one gets deeper into the album. Both "You're too late baby" and "Every Saturday Night" have high pitched mouth harp in deliberate imitation of Jimmy Reed. However the Reed impression lessens on other up-tempo numbers. "Just give me chance" has an unusual rhythm slightly reminiscent of Bo Diddley - the latter's "Say Man" comes to mind - that similar feeling is only increased by Silas' conversation with one of the band members very like Bo and Jerome. "So glad" has Katie Webster on Farfisa organ, which, I feel works - unlike such attempts made with Lightnin' Slim (though these were with an organist other than the redoubtable Ms Webster).

Silas mainly uses his own band, the Rhythm Ramblers to back him, sometimes supplemented by Whispering Smith (harmonica), the aforementioned Katie Webster (piano & organ), Al Forman and Lazy Lester (both guitar), Bobby McBride (bass guitar). It's probably one of these named guitarists who contributes the unusual but effective intro and fills to the slow and excellent, "Sittin' here a wondering". There's generally more variation on the slow blues as the album proceeds. "Dark Clouds rollin' is rightly known as one of his best slow blues but others like "Early one morning", and "More trouble at home", (with evocative mentions of "roaches" in the lyrics) are by no means without merit.

There's a swamp pop attempt - you rather get the impression that Jay Miller wanted to see what each of his artists would sound like in this style. The number is "Everybody needs Somebody" and it comes off sounding rather like Jimmy Reed's "Honest I do" - it's arguably better than that little baby.

Not a world shaking album but good, solid, swamp blues nevertheless. Maybe three and half stars rounded down to three. If some of the more predictable early tracks had the variation of some of the later ones I would have gone for the full four stars.
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