Collection discs abound on the market ranging from samplers to tributes to anniversaries. Most are released for the sole purpose to hook you into buying more of the label's product. Rarely do you encounter a treasure like the 25 year anniversary collection from Stony Plain. It is truly a celebration of Canada's roots rock, folk, country and blues label. Its survival and relative prosperity as an independent record company is certainly remarkable. The double CD features almost 2 and a half hours of music pulled from over 270 albums. Too many artists to mention (more than 40) appear including previously unreleased material.
The recordings age from 1972 to 2000 with the vast majority from the most recent decade. Many musical styles are represented here including bluegrass, country and anything imaginable that can be played by a fiddle and accordion. In addition, virtually every possible style of blues can be found. Bobby Charles turns in a sad love song with Sonny Landreth's vigor on guitar. There is smooth, jazzy guitar from Duke Robillard and Herb Ellis. Robillard has become a permanent fixture at the label and is responsible for a dozen of it's finer releases. King Biscuit Boy sings so committed that you believe he is going to carry out the lyrics. You will hear the rollicking guitar of Amos Garrett and the wailing harp of David Burgin. Billy Boy Arnold does some 50s-style rock while Jo-El Sonnier plays vibrant Cajun accordion. Canada's newest sensations, Rockin' Highliners, get steamy and sultry. Sun legend Rosco Gordon triumphantly returns to the studio while the Downchild Blues Band delivers a party rich with happy horns and tingling ivories. Professor Longhair tells how he began to make musical gumbo. Lowell Fulson (backed by Powder Blues Band) delivers a masterpiece and Walter Horton all too appropriately brings things to a climax.
None of the label's success would have been possible without its founder Holger Petersen. He is well respected in the industry as evidenced when the Holmes Brothers insisted his label distributed their new disc even though another label has the worldwide rights. Sonny Rhodes honours Petersen too. The Texas bluesman wrote a tune to celebrate Holger's birthday which is included here. Richard Flohil's extensive and well researched liner notes provide a rich history of the label and its founder. Legendary producer Jerry Wexler adds his own notes: "Holger Petersen has cultivated a stony plain and brought forth wondrous fruit." Petersen doesn't just have dreams, he lives them and they can be fully experienced on Stony Plain Records.
For CDs, booking and information, contact: Stony Plain Records, PO Box 861, Edmonton, AB Canada T5J 2L8 website: www.stonyplainrecords.com e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, 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.