Usually, when a compilation reaches its eighth instalment, the quality starts to suffer. Not the Bayou series. Just like a good wine, it appears to mature with age. That’s apparent from listening to the eighth instalment, Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough, which was recently released by Ace Records.

Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough sees Ian Saddler dig deeper into the J.D. Miller and Eddie Shuler’s back-catalogues. Previously, they’ve provided Ian with a veritable musical feast. The good news is, there’s plenty more to come. This includes the music on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough.

Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough features a total of twenty-eight tracks. This includes seventeen previously unissued or alternate tracks. There’s contributions from blues legends like Slim Harpo, Lightnin’ Slim and Lazy Lester. That’s not forgetting contributions from Vince Monroe, Morris “Big” Chenier, Wonder Boy Travis and Mad Dog Sheffield. That’s not all. There’s another eleven tracks on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough.

The other eleven tracks were released between 1953 and 1990. Many of them will be familiar to anyone with a passing interest in the blues. Blues legends like Lazy Lester, sit side-by-side with Joe Mayfield, Boozoo Chavis, Hop Wilson and Lonesome Sundown. As you can see, Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough is crammed full of what’s described as “downhome Louisiana blues with a touch of zydeco.”Choosing the highlights isn’t going to be easy. As usual, Ian Saddler has ensured that Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough is crammed full of quality music.

What better way to open Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough, that with an unreleased track from two blues legends, Lightnin’ Slim and Lazy Lester. Trip To Chicago was recorded at J.D. Miller’s studio. The track was written by Dan Hicks and Lazy Lester, under his real name Leslie Johnson. For whatever reason, Trip To Chicago was never released and remained a hidden blues gem. No wonder, with Lightnin’ Slim playing guitar and Lazy Lester blowing some blues harmonica.

That’s not the last we’ve heard from Lazy Lester. He contributes two other tracks, Sugar Coated Love and Whoa Now. Sugar Coated Love was penned by J.D. Miller, but never released. It makes a welcome debut on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. The other track features Lazy Lester at his very best. For newcomers to his music, the Jerry West wrote Whoa Now, is the perfect introduction Lazy Lester. His swaggering vocal is accompanied by blistering bluesy guitar licks. 

Just like Lazy Lester, Lightnin’ Slim is a blues legend. So, it’s fitting he contributes two tracks. Neither the alternate version of Tired Little Fellow nor I’m Tired Of Waiting Baby have been released before. Both tracks epitomise everything that’s good about Lightnin’ Slim. There’s that weary, lived in vocal and two spellbinding performance on guitar. Tired Little Fellow was penned by Otis Hicks and Jerry West, while Jerry West wrote I’m Tired Of Waiting Baby. In Lightnin’ Slim’s hands, the lyrics come to life. He sounds as if he’s lived and survived them. Accompanied by a crack band of blues musicians, Lightnin’ Slim shows why he’ll forever be remembered as one of the greatest blues musicians ever.

Vince Monroe features twice on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. They’re an alternate take of Change Your Ways and They Call Me Mr Calhoun. Neither track has been released before. Of the two tracks, Change Your Ways is the best. Against a slow, moody backdrop, a frustrated, despairing Vince lays bare his hurt. Adding the finishing touch is a wailing harmonica. It’s the perfect foil for Vince’s vocal.

Joe Mayfield may be a new name to many people. He recorded for J.D. Miller in 1957. The hurt-filled You’re The One I Love was the B-Side to his 1957 single I’m A Natural Born Man. At the same session, he recorded Look Out Baby. It wasn’t released until the late seventies, when it featured on a compilation released by Flyright Records. Sadly, by the Joe Mayfield’s recording career was over.

When Cornelius Green dawned the moniker Lonesome Sundown, he began a journey that saw him eventually crowned a blues great. He was born in 1931, in Donaldson, Louisiana. By 1961, Lonesome was thirty. That’s when he recorded If Anybody Ask You and the swaggering I’m Gonna Stick To You Baby which he wrote with J.D. Miller. He was accompanied by an all-star band that featured Lazy Lester on harmonica, guitarist Leroy Washington and pianist Tal Miller. Neither track was ever released. They’ve lain unreleased in the vaults. Belatedly,  Ian Saddler has discovered these hidden gems. They make a welcome debut on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. Hopefully, after hearing these tracks, a new generation of music lovers will rediscover Lonesome Sundown’s music.

Slim Harpo’s career began in 1957, and continued until his death in 1970. During that period, Slim Harpo established a reputation as a hugely talented vocalist and harmonica player. That’s apparent on the Cornelius Green penned Bought Me A Ticket. Slim’s other contribution is like My Little Queen Bee. It was written by James Moore. a poignant reminder of a blues great.

After a veritable feast of blues music, accordionist Boozoo Chavis takes Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough in the direction of zydeco. There’s still a bluesy sound on Paper In My Shoe, which was written by Wilson Chavis and Eddie Shuler. It featured on Boozoo Chavis’ 1986 album Louisiana Zydeco Music, which was released on Louisiana Zydeco Music and was the title-track on a 1987 compilation released by Ace Records. Boozoo Chavis’ other contribution is the wonderfully broody, moody Wilson Chavis composition Got Me A Brand New Mojo Hand, where Boozoo delivers a vocal that’s worldweary and all-knowing. Behind him, his band mix a heady brew of zydeco and blues.

Za Belle is the first of two tracks from Clarence Garlow. This time, the track is credited to Clarence Garlow and His Accordion. Written by Clarence and Eddie Shuler, Za Belle was released as a single in 1953. It’s an explosion of energy. Clarence and his band drive the arrangement along. His vocal is a mixture of power and emotion. Combined with the arrangement, and it’s an irresistible and timeless slice of zydeco. It Isn’t Right was written by Clarence, but never released. That’s a great shame. This fusion of blues and zydeco literally oozes quality. There’s more of a blues influence on It Isn’t Right, which is a reminder of a seriously talented singer and songwriter. Sadly, in 1970 Clarence stopped performing. During the eighties he played the occasional concert and died in 1986, aged seventy-five.

Two tracks on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough are something of a mystery. They’re credited to Mad Dog Sheffield. However, not much is known about Charles Mad Dog Sheffield. There’s even speculation about his true identity. What’s not disputed is that Mad Dog Sheffield is a seriously talented blues player. He wrote both I Love You So and Nothing Can Keep My Love From You. Both tracks were recorded for a Goldband session, which took place between 1955 and 1957. Of the two tracks, Nothing Can Keep My Love From You is the best. I’d go further and say it’s one of the highlights of Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. Accompanying Mad Dog Sheffield are a tight, talented band. The result is what can only be described as blues heaven. 

There aren’t many people who can master the guitar in four months. Lee Baker Jr. did. Not long after this, Lee was playing live. He was asked  to join Clifton Chenier’s band and christened Guitar Jr. For Lee he was living the dream. Here he was, making a living out of music. This was every musician’s dream. Soon, things got even better. During 1958 and 1959, Lee recorded seventeen tracks with producer J.D. Shuler. This included the stomping, swaggering Fine Fine Fine Pretty Thing and the needy, heartfelt and dramatic Love Me Baby. Incredibly, neither track was ever released. Instead, they’ve lain in J.D. Shuler’s vaults. Not any more. Belatedly, they make their debut on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. These tracks and are a reminder of Guitar Jr, one of the most underrated and talented blues musicians.

The final tracks I’ve chosen from Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough are by harmonica player Jimmy Anderson. He contributes I Wanna Boogie and Keep On Naggin.’ I Wanna Boogie was released as a single in 1962. It was produced by J.D. Miller and released on the Wynn label. After giving Jimmy a hit in the Louisiana area, the single became a nationwide hit. Listening to I Wanna Boogie, it reminds me of Jimmy Reed. Keep On Naggin’ was Jimmy’s other contribution. Written by Jimmy Anderson and Jerry West, it wasn’t released until1988. By then, Jimmy’s career was into its third decade. Sadly, despite his undoubted talent, Jimmy hadn’t enjoyed the commercial success he deserved. So a few years later, Jimmy quit making music for playing music. He became a DJ. Thankfully, Jimmy made a welcome comeback. Still, he didn’t find commercial success in America. Over the Atlantic, Jimmy became a popular act around Europe. Just like a several generations of blues, jazz and soul musicians, Jimmy was more popular in Europe than in America.

That’s the story of Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough, which was recently released by Ace Records. This is the eighth volume in the Bayou series. Just like a good wine, the Bayou series is maturing with age. That’s down to compiler Ian Saddler, a  man who knows where the best kept musical secrets can be found.

Compiler Ian Saddler has pulled out all the stops for Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. He’s dug deep into J.D. Miller and Eddie Shuler’s vaults. He’s found what can only be described as a proverbial musical feast. It’s no exaggeration to say that Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough oozes quality. That’s down to Ian Saddler’s track selection. Ian has the ability to spot a hidden gem. There’s plenty on Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. This includes contributions from familiar faces and new names. Blues legends like Slim Harpo, Lightnin’ Slim, Lazy Lester and Lonesome Sundown site side-by-side with Jimmy Anderson, Mad Dog Sheffield, Vince Monroe and Joe Mayfield. The quality keeps on coming.

Compiler Ian Saddler has pulled out all the stops for Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough. He realises that when a compilation gets to volume eight, it sometimes loses its mojo. Not the Bayou series. Ian chooses each track with the utmost care. That’s why there’s no filler. Not once did my hand stray near the remote control. Instead, for just over an hour, a little corner of Scotland became Louisiana. That’s thanks to Ian Saddler and what’s the best compilation in Ace Records’ Bayou series,  Bluesin’ By The Bayou-Rough ’N’ Tough.









  1. HL

    I’d like to know more about these archives. Are the old Excello Records public domain? Or did the new Ace Records purchase the rights and/or masters from someone? What is the history on these recordings?

    • Hi there,

      The new Ace Records have purchased the rights to the Excello Records back catalogue. Songs from the back catalogue feature on various compilations and releases, including Bluesin’ By The Bayou. If you’ve yet to discover the series, I can throughly recommend it. It’s easily the best of its kind.

  2. Paul Thorne

    Flyright’s vinyl issues from Excello from the seventies well worth the time and money for any serious collector

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