After a hiatus of some two years, compiler Stuart Colman returns with the eighth instalment of his 'Breezy Sugar' series, here concentrating on Chicago. And if you might have thought that Chicago would be confined to such labels as Chess/Checker/Argo, Vee-Jay, Cobra, Abner/Falcon, maybe one or two others - and mainly blues - you'll be pleased to hear that that's far from the case. Label-wise, how familiar are you Arco, Crystal, Stepheny, Buddy-Buddy, Profile (no, that's not a queue for a brothel), Acquarius (note dodgy spelling), Mad, Tempus, Glisten? And there's more...
This 75-track triple just keeps on giving, laden as it is wit home familiar names, others I'm pretty sure will be 'new' to r&r fans. Overall, to make life easier, I'll call it a damn fine rock'n'roll compilation, but that's to ignore the r&b, doo wop, rockin' blues, r&r, r&b vocal groups and rockabilly that make up the whole. For those of a terpsichorean bent (?), yep, you can jump, jive, jitterbug, stroll and rock'n'roll non-stop for something like three hours or more, or wear your finger-poppin' digits to a mush. Do I like it? Is the Pope a Catholic?
To start with Chuck Berry is no bad thing, plus a couple more and courtesy Stuart's notes, I'm better for knowing that Chuck employs a "quavering 7th lick" t the end of each chorus of 'Carol'. A trio from Bo Diddley, equally nice, tho I remain convinced that the alternate take of 'Bo Diddley' was by way of a run-thru, see how it pans out. A few of these sides came to my attention in the 1970's, via repro 45s (facsimiles of the real deal). Bobby Dean's 'It's A Fad, Ma!', The Rockin' R's and their hot guitar and sax instro 'Heat' on Tempus, Jimmy/Billy Carroll's 'Big Green Car' on Fascination, the hot'n'throbbin' rockabilly of 'Do It Bop' by Billy Prager & His Caravans, Crystal, with it's searing, wild steel guitar solo, and mantra-like repetition of the title, doo wop-like, by the backing vocalists...ooh, bliss! Many other tracks appeared on sundry bootleg albums, and the growing release schedule of legitimate UK albums bearing the magic sigil ROCKABILLY sure helped.
Go check the track listing, tick off those you know or have. Weigh up the pros (many!) and cons (?), bear in mind the very reasonable price, factor in Stuart Colman's paragraph-per-track liner notes, every one a little nugget of useful info. Top sound, colour label scans, what more could you want? This set R-O-C-K-S!!