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…..
The buckle-polishers and skirt-swirlers are back! Presenting 28 rare goodies from Louisiana and South East Texas. The variant of rock’n’roll that emanated from the Gulf Coast of South Louisiana and South East Texas in the 1950s-60s is as evocative of the area as chicken gumbo, crawfish étouffée and red beans and rice. The youthful Cajuns of the period threw themselves into r’n’r like teenagers across the globe, but had additional influences, not just the hillbilly and blues that created rockabilly, but the ethnic music of their parents and, most telling, the R&B sounds carried over the airwaves from New Orleans.
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").