Meat & Gravy From Bea & Baby
Castle (2003) 12692-2
2 CDs, 50 tracks, 137 minutes.
by Craig Ruskey
Review date: September 2003
"Keeping the Blues Alive Award"|
Achievement for Blues on the Internet
Presented by The Blues Foundation
Chicago's Bea & Baby record label was owned and operated by one of the city's more colorful characters, Narvel Eatmon, who was better known as Cadillac Baby. Eatmon regarded himself a 'businessman' who dabbled in all sorts of activities, including a candy store, nightclub, appliance repair service, and a shoestring-budget recording enterprise. Over the course of the label's history, roughly 1959 until his store burned in the late 1970s destroying nearly everything he had including records, tapes, contracts, and other memorabilia, those two decades included some superlative efforts by a wide cast on the Chicago scene; James Cotton, Sunnyland Slim, Eddie Boyd, Homesick James,
Hound Dog Taylor and many more. While this two-disc set doesn't include all the Bea & Baby sides, or those on Miss and Keyhole (two more imprints Eatmon operated), the sound quality far surpasses what was available on a set of old vinyl LPs from Red Lightnin' in 1978-79 and Wolf's three discs of material (64 titles appear on the Wolf CDs), and Neil Slaven's liner notes are in-depth and highly informative. Hound Dog Taylor's maiden session is here with My Baby's Coming Home and
Five Take Five, as well as gritty offerings from Homesick James (My Baby's Gone/Homesick Sunnyland Special and more), Sunnyland Slim (Drinking And Clowning/She Got That Jive and a handful of others), L.C. McKinley (Sharpest Man In Town/Nit Wit), the gravel-voiced Willie Williams (Wine Headed Woman/Ruthie Baby/38 Woman), Eddie Boyd (Blue Monday Blues/Where You Belong/You Got To Reap), Little Mac (Times Are Getting Tougher/Woman,
Help Me/I'm Your Fool), and much more. Detroit Junior, Arlean Brown, Andrew McMahon, Tall Paul Hankins, and Earl Hooker show up, all with the same indelible qualities immediately evident; fun and chaos. While the Bea & Baby label was a relatively small operation compared to Chess and Vee Jay, Narvel Eatmon definitely competed with those two towering banners when it came to quality. This is all
priceless, brilliant, and essential. www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.com for more information.
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