An instant classic when it was released as a double LP in the U.K. in 1970 by Mike Vernon's legendary Blue Horizon Records, Swamp Blues isn't technically an Excello Records product, but all of the veteran blues artists included in the set have strong ties to the Louisiana label…..
In the mid-50s, as rock’n’roll swept across the USA, the Cajun youth of South Louisiana and South East Texas absorbed the R&B sounds emanating from New Orleans. This was reflected in their music, making it so distinctive. They thrilled to the sound of Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis and Huey Smith and performed their songs with the bands they formed, while the area’s new breed of songwriters – Bobby Charles, Jimmy Donley, Jivin’ Gene, etc – assimilated the Crescent City style in their work. Swamp pop was born, although the genre had yet to be named.
This four-disc, 68-track collection paints a broad definition of the blues, with cuts ranging from vintage country blues (Robert Johnson's “Cross Road Blues,” Son House's “Death Letter Blues”) to uptown jazz blues (Nina Simone's “Blues for My Mama,” Billie Holiday's “Billie’s Blues”), Chicago blues (a live version of “Howling Wolf” by Muddy Waters), British blues (Jeff Beck's “JB’s Blues”), and contemporary acoustic blues (“Am I Wrong” by Keb' Mo'), with plenty of stops in between, making for a random but varied playlist that circles the different approaches and musical definitions of the genre.
The Lone Star State has a long and impressive history of spawning great blues acts, and four of the all-time greatest Texas guitar slingers are featured on this performance video. Texas Blues Guitar includes three numbers shot in 1991 from Albert Collins ("Ice Man," "Head Rag," and "Lights Are on but Nobody's Home"), three songs from a 1972 Freddie King gig ("Blues Band Shuffle," "Big Leg Woman," and "Going Down"), the great Lightin' Hopkins performing four songs in a 1960 television appearance ("Bunion Stew," "Let's Pull a Party," "Going Down Slow," and "Baby, Come Go Home With Me"), and Mance Lipscomb is represented with four songs filmed in 1968 ("God Moves on the Water," "Night Time Is the Right Time," "Which Way Do the Red River Run," and "Captain Captain").
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.