The Kansas City swing blues of the Sweet Baby Blues Band is very difficult not to enjoy. Jeannie Cheatham's exuberant vocals (propelled by her forcefully swinging piano) inspire the many soloists on the blues-oriented material, and there is plenty of variety in tempo and feeling to keep this set continually interesting. Among the main soloists are ageless trumpeter Snooky Young, tenorman Rickey Woodard (making his debut on clarinet on two cuts), and guest altoist Hank Crawford, who sits in on four songs.
Culled from four albums, except for one previously unreleased track, Shuggie's Boogie: Shuggie Otis Plays the Blues is a tour de force made all the more remarkable because the prodigy who produced it was so young. In fact, Shuggie Otis recalls during a boyish spoken intro in "Shuggie's Boogie" how he used to wear dark glasses and paint on a mustache to look older than his 14 or 15 years when he played in bars in the band of his legendary father Johnny Otis. During the same intro he effortlessly throws off guitar impersonations of T-Bone Walker, B.B. King and Elmore James. This compilation has a few rousing, up-tempo numbers, but the highlights are the slow, soulful tunes. One unfortunate omission is the seven-minute "Oxford Gray" from his 1970 album Here Comes Shuggie Otis.
These three pianists popularized the rhythmically rambunctious style of piano-playing known as boogie woogie, and with more than 25 tracks between them, this import offers a great overview. Ammons and Johnson duet on most of the tracks (Walkin' the Boogie, Sixth Avenue Express, etc.), but all three take solo turns, as well as joining together for a poundin' Jumpin' Blues. Some of these pianists' finest tracks, from Carnegie Hall concerts & rare MacGregor transcription discs, remastered from original discs & acetates.
This was the album by which millions of sons of late baby boomers (and sons and daughters of the early ones) first really discovered the Beach Boys, beyond hearing the occasional oldie on the radio. It was the summer of 1974, and the Beach Boys were still trying to get themselves back on track commercially after a seven-year commercial dry spell, when this double LP of their 1963-1966 material (all but one cut pre-dating Pet Sounds) came along and did the job…