VARIOUS Ain’t Gonna Hush The Queens Of Rhythm & Blues

Fantastic Voyage – 3 CD Set

VARIOUS Ain’t Gonna Hush The Queens Of Rhythm & Blues

I met up with Paul Jones recently and he hauled me over the coals for one of my CD reviews in BM which he thought was out of order. I never got to know which artist or band it was, but I tend to review albums based on the creative effort of the artists concerned. Some aren’t as talented as others, and could be slagged off. But, call me a softie, yet I try not to do that. So it’s a delight and a relief to be on very safe ground with this staggeringly good collection of 76 tracks.

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I don’t think I’m getting this wrong when I say that any compilation which includes not only Aretha Franklin, but LaVern Baker, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, Betty Everett and Dakota Staton among many more obscure artists, is the kind of thing any true R&B aficionado ought to possess. Most of these recordings, from the 50s and 60s are records by fine female singers which had all the potential to make it, yet, to quote the label, ‘these 45s slipped through the cracks’. And that’s what makes such compilations brilliantly fascinating.

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Listening to records even I, only a year younger than Paul Jones, have never come across before, is a pleasure. I’d never heard, for instance, Little Esther’s rendition of Hound Dog, and there’s names here which have indeed ‘slipped through the cracks’, like Ruth Freeman, Varetta Dillard, June Bug Bailey, Kitty White or Mamie Perry. Lots and lots of stirring, uplifting roaring vocals with superb bands, for example, check out the raucous arrangement on Paula Grimes’ You Move Me So, which segues right into the driving, bouncy I Say You’re Driving Me Crazy by Dorothy Berry, with its elephantine baritone sax solo. Priceless stuff.

If you had the impression that 50s and 60s R&B was a male dominated landscape, this will put you right. As fine a three CD set as any blues fan could buy. Wherever you all went, I thank you ladies – you’re still very good company./p>

ROY BAINTON