Sunday, 11 September 2011
JUMPING THE SHUFFLE BLUES: JAMAICAN SOUND SYSTEM CLASSICS 1946-1960
Spread across three CDs Jumping The Shuffle Blues compiles records spun by Jamaican sound systems after the second world war until 1960; which isn’t to say they were Jamaican in origin. If the well-to-do of Kingston could patronise exclusive clubs to hear live orchestras, the rest made do with sound systems rigged up in rooms to play 78s imported from America. In a practice later familiar in northern soul circles, the DJs – or selectors – would be fiercely competitive, disguising their finds by scratching off the titles of popular plays or even conjuring up new titles and claiming them as their own.
Some of the songs and artists here (Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown, Lloyd Price, Lowell Fulsom, Etta James etc) have been featured on hundreds of collections but only those well versed in jump blues, shuffle blues, call it would you will, will know anything close to all 85 tracks. An infectious rhythm tied to a catchy ballin’, brawlin’ or boozin’ lyric is always irresistible and whacking up the volume to “Too Many Women”, “No More Doggin’”, “But Officer”, “Hey Bartender”, “Bloodshot Eyes” and “Drunk” worked for sound systems, juke joints and house parties then and still bring a smile to the face and an itch to the feet now.
Of the three CDs the second one covering the years 1951-1954 is the most raucous and therefore best but the whole collection, with accompanying 24 page booklet, makes a novel way of a repackaging honking stateside R&B and providing something of a Jamaican history lesson along the way.
Jumping The Shuffle Blues is released by Fantastic Voyage, priced around £8.