New from Indigo Records for April, The Nightporters' latest CD "Feelin' Good," is actually their debut from 1997 (IGOXCD 542) which originally appeared on the 'Wang' label. The UK is quite proud of this four-piece outfit and it's easy to see why; they come across with the same exuberance shown years ago by the Yardbirds and few others. There's nothing smooth about their delivery, it's rough and randy by a young crew with a couple of feet in the blues tradition and a couple more equally planted in rockabilly and early rock 'n' roll soil. Fronted by Ian Roberts (vocals, guitar, harp) they tackle Little Walter's "Mellow Down Easy" and Slim Harpo's "Hip Shake" with equal ease. They also take on Guitar Slim's "Certainly All" and put some Rolling Stone-esque touches on Robert Johnson's "Love In Vain." Martin Vowles' guitar work is granite solid while the rhythm section of Chris Robbins on the bull fiddle and the steady drumming of Kevin Crowe drive things along. It's been a good while since blues caused a ruckus on the British shores, but the cult following has turned larger for the Nightporters who maintain a busy schedule. I don't see any US dates on their itinerary, but if they manage to get over here, check them out. Also available is the band's 1999 Indigo debut titled "Rollercoaster."
"Carnival Day " (IGOCD 2129) is a disc overflowing with hot New Orleans R&B talent, cut at the height of recording activity, the late 1940's, when most of the 24 tracks here were waxed. Like a great show at the Dew Drop Inn years ago; Roy Brown, Professor Longhair, Smiley Lewis, Fats Domino, and others join the party. Brown's smoldering "Long 'bout Midnight" from 1947 is fabulous as is Chubby Newsome on "New Orleans Lover Man," backed by the swinging Dave Bartholomew band. Antoine Domino gets in three tracks and "The Fat Man" is still a favorite today. Smiley's "Tee Nah Nah" from early 1950 is a broiling slow shuffle with Tuts Washington's piano well to the fore, while "Growing Old" has that fine second-line groove. The true feel of New Orleans has always rested in the abilities of Professor Longhair, and his handful of tracks add considerably to an already strong CD. "Bald Head" is still fun more than 50 years after it was cut while "Her Mind Is Gone" is another great look at Roy Byrd's early days. "Hey Now Baby" and "Oh Well" round out the four from a 1949 Crescent City recording date, but the award goes to the stripped-down "Hadacol Bounce" with Walter "Papoose" Nelson's sandpaper-toned guitar well featured. Fittingly, it's Fats Domino's "Hey! La Bas Boogie" closing out the hour-plus trip to the land where crawfish is piled high and Jax is brewed and bottled.
The subtitle is 'The Blues Meets The Beatles' and that's exactly what "Beatles Blues " is; 15 tracks by an assortment of seasoned veterans from the US and UK, taking some gems from the Lennon/McCartney notebook, and putting them to decidedly blues-oriented grooves.. Stan Webb's "She Loves You" opens the disc from his recent "Webb" CD and steps aside for Earl Green's soul-drenched reading of "From Me To You." Charles Walker is bone-chilling from the opening notes to the last on "Don't Let Me Down," while Johnny Jones simmers through a tough rendition of "Come Together." Other standouts include Ruby Turner's smoky and powerful vocals on "You Can't Do That," and Roscoe Shelton's gospel-touched pipes on "Let It Be." Co-producer Fred James gets a couple spots and is especially tough with the smoking version of "I'm Down," while Paul Lamb is tasteful with "Norwegian Wood" and lowdown and in-the-alley with the instrumental-only "Get Back." While perhaps not quite as timeless as blues, the work of Lennon and McCartney is part of music history here and across the pond, which makes it pleasing to hear this tribute (IGOCD 539) to a team of songwriters that have perhaps as much importance as Leiber and Stoller to the fabric of rock and roll. www.trojanrecords.com has a complete listing of Indigo and other label releases.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Craig Ruskey, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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