When compilers are looking for inspiration for a new compilation series, there’s a tendency to focus on a city or region. That’s all very well. However, far too often, compilers focus on the same cities. Detroit, Memphis and Philly are favourites. So are Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Occasionally, compilers explore the music of Nashville and New Orleans. Sadly, some compilers don’t explore the wider musical world.

This means that vast swathes of the musical world are left unexplored. Granted compilations of Latin and African music are becoming more commonplace. However, when was the last time you saw a compilation of music from Asia or Eastern Europe? They’re few and far between. 

Even cities that have played a huge part in the development of a specific genre are overlooked. An example is electronic music. For too long, the early electronic music produced in Berlin and Düsseldorf have been overlooked. Both the Berlin and Dusseldorf Schools played an important part in the birth or electronic music. Across the Atlantic, one of the fifty-two states was equally neglected, Louisiana.

That was a great shame. For over a century, Louisiana has been a musical hotbed. It’s given the world cajun, creole, Dixieland, swamp blues, swamp pop and zydeco. That’s not all. Many blues, country and jazz artist were born and bred in Louisiana. Despite being such a musical hotbed, Louisiana was for far too long, been overlooked by compilers.

Instead, compilers headed to Detroit, Memphis, New York and Philly. They became favourite destinations for compilers. That’s no longer the case. Some compilers dig deeper, much deeper. This includes Ian Saddler the man behind Ace Records  In The Bayou compilation series. 

Ian was one of the first compilers to head to Louisiana. Others, realising that Louisiana is a musical treasure trove, have followed in his wake. However, Ian was a trailblazer. He’s now a familiar face in the Bayou state, having just compiled the twelfth instalment in twelve instalments in the lovingly compiled  In The Bayou compilation series. 

Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups was recently released by Ace Records. This twenty-eight track compilation features familiar faces and new names. There’s everyone from The Velvetiers, Sonny Martin, Charles Morris, The Del-Chords, Henry Clement, Sticks Herman, The Raves and Katie Webster.

Opening Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups is Feelin Right Saturday Night, the first of two tracks from The Velvetiers. It was one of two tracks recorded at Cosimo’s New Orleans’ studio on 3rd August 1958. The doo wop ballad Oh Baby was chosen as the single, with Feelin Right Saturday Night relegated to the flip side. Oh Baby was released as a single in 1959. Despite its undeniable quality, Oh Baby failed commercially, and it proved to be the only single The Velvetiers released.

Sonny Martin isn’t a newcomer to By the Bayou series. He featured on the first compilation. Eleven instalments later, and he returns with a trio of unreleased tracks. They were recorded for J.D. Miller, but the date of the session is unknown. Since then, the alternate versions of I Cried, Lookin And Searchin’ and Some Other Time have lain in J.D. Miller’s vaults. Not any more. They’re a welcome addition to Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups. Especially the rousing versions of I Cried and Some Other Time.

When Floyd Soileau first heard The Del-Chords, he had high hopes for the group from Bunkie, Louisiana. So, the owner of the Jin Records took The Del-Chords into the studio. They recorded Help Me, which became their debut single. It was released on Jin Records in 1960. Floyd also sent copies of Help me to the major labels. He thought they would find it hard to resist the combination of a needy vocal and tight harmonies. He was wrong. None of the majors expressed an interest in The Del-Chords. To make matters worse, the single flopped. Even veteran music men get it wrong once in a while.

Henry Clement features five times on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups. This includes some of his earliest recordings. Please, Please Darling was the B-Side to Henry’s 1958 debut single So In Love With You. It was released on the Zynn label. So was a single Henry released as Little Henry. Jenny, Jenny, Jenny was released in 1959. The B-Side was What Have I Done Wrong? It’s features a soul-baring performance from Henry Clement. His other two contributions are the unreleased Cry Weeping Willow and an alternate take of the sassy Tall Skinny Mama. This quintet of tracks is sure to whet your appetite to Henry Clement’s music.

Over the years, Sticks Herman recorded fifteen sides for Eddie Shuler. This includes his 1957 single The Natural Thing To Do. It was one of a trio of singles Sticks released on Goldband. Four years later, in 1961, and Sticks released Give Me Your Love on Eddie Shuler’s Tic Toc Records. Despite a needy, hopeful vocal, the single failed commercially. Nowadays, it’s a real rarity, and copies of the single change hands for upwards of £90. That’s beyond the pockets of most music fans. So its inclusion on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups allows everyone to hear this little-known hidden gem.

From the moment J.D. Miller clapped eyes on The Gaynotes, he thought they had a big future ahead of them. So J.D. cut cut four sides with The Gaynotes and sent a copy of the tape to Excelo’s Ernie Young in Nashville. He passed on the The Gaynotes. Unperturbed, J.D. Miller released Plea Of Love with Waiting In The Chapel on the flip side. When the singles arrived from the pressing plant, the label said Clem and The Dew Drops. Rather than repress the singles, a label was used to cover the error. The single was then released on Zynn in 1958, but wasn’t the success J.D. Miller had hoped for. Since then, the single has continued to cause confusion. Many of the labels have fallen off or been removed, leading record buyers to think that Plea Of Love is in fact by Clem and The Dew Drops. Now you know better.

The Gaynotes contribute two other tracks to Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups, Married Too Soon had never been released before. The Snake made its debut on a Flyright compilation in 1988. Just like Plea Of Love with Waiting In The Chapel, both cuts show the potential that J.D. Miller spotted in The Gaynotes.

In 1958, Sam Montel, owner of the Montel label, was contacted by Nashville DJ, Bill “The Horseman” Allen. He was managing  The Hi-Fis, who had recorded a single I’m So Lonely. It was penned by James Church who also wrote the B-Side My Dear. Bill wanted Sam to release the single on his Montel label. Hearing the song’s potential, I’m So Lonely was released in 1959. However, the song failed to attract the attention of record buyers, and I’m So Lonely was The Hi-Fis only single.

Katie Webster is, without doubt, a true legend of the Louisiana music scene. Having started life as a session musician, Katie began to forge a career as a solo artist. By 1958, she was working with producer J.D. Miller. One of the songs Katie recorded with J.D. Miller was Sea Of Love. However, it was thirty years later before the track found its way onto a Flyright compilation. Belatedly, this beautiful cover of Sea Of Love was heard by a wider audience. It makes a welcome reappearance on Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups, and is a reminder of a legend of the Louisiana music scene.

My final choices from Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups come courtesy of The Raves. They were another group recorded by J.D. Miller. He took them into the studio in 1959, and the recorded two tracks penny by Allen Spears and Jerry West. Billy The Kid was chosen as the single, and Tell Me, Tell Me, Tell Me was the flip side. When the single was released in September 1959, it failed to make any impact. Fifty-six years later, and Billy The Kid is the perfect way to close the twelfth instalment in the By The Bayou series. It leaves the listener wanting more.

Hopefully, there will be further volumes in the By The Bayou series. Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups was the twelfth instalment in what’s fast becoming, one of Ace Records’ most popular compilation series. There’s a reason for this. Compiler Ian Saddler loves the music of Louisiana. 

Each of the twelve instalments of the By The Bayou series are lovingly compiled. Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups is no different. Ian continues to dig deep into the vaults of the various Louisiana studios. Just like on previous occasions, J.D. Miller’s studio has been an absolute treasure trove. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. This includes tracks from Sonny Martin, The Gaynotes, Katie Webster and The Raves. There’s also tracks from the studios of Cosimo Matassa, Eddie Shuler, Floyd Soileau and Sam Montel. These tracks were recorded in the late-fifties, early-sixties and feature on what’s another musical feast. 

Just like previous instalments in the series, Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups oozes quality. That’s down to Ian Saddler’s track selection. Ian combines familiar faces, new names and hidden gems. The result is a twenty-eight track journey through Louisiana’s illustrious musical past. This includes contributions from familiar faces and new names. After The Velvetiers open Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups, there’s contributions from Sonny Martin, Charles Morris, The Del-Chords, Henry Clement, Sticks Herman, Katie Webster and The Raves. They close Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups with Billy The Kid. It’s the perfect way to close the Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups. Already, you’re awaiting the thirteenth instalment in the By The Bayou series.

That’s pretty good going. Most compilations loose their mojo after just a few volumes. Not Ace Records’ By The Bayou compilation series. After its twelfth instalment, Rhythm ’N’ Bluesin’ By the Bayou-Vocal Groups its going strong. It’s a welcome addition to a series where Ian Saddler documents and celebrates Louisiana’s rich and illustrious musical past.









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