A posthumous collection of all of the Wonder Stuff's singles from 1987 to 1993, plus a cover of Slade's "Coz I Love You" from a charity compilation, If the Beatles had Read Hunter…the Singles is both a fine starting point and, for most, all the Wonder Stuff they'll ever actually need. Albums one and three, 1988's The Eight-Legged Groove Machine and 1991's Never Loved Elvis, are solidly entertaining (in wildly differing styles) throughout, but the rest of the group's output was fairly inconsistent. However, in the classic Brit-pop tradition pretty much all of the band's very best material, from the Kinks-like, music hall-style tune "The Size of a Cow" to the manic buzz of "Give Give Give Me More More More," was released as singles. There are a couple of iffy inclusions, particularly the frankly terrible version of Tommy Roe's "Dizzy," recorded in collaboration with British comedian Vic Reeves, but overall, this is a solid, completely representative overview. Those whose curiosity is stoked would do well to buy The Eight-Legged Groove Machine next.
Blues on the South Side is probably the best album slide guitarist Homesick James ever laid down (originally for Prestige in 1964). The stylistic similarities to his cousin, the great Elmore James, are obvious, but Homesick deviates repeatedly from the form. Tough as nails with a bottleneck, he goes for the jugular on "Goin' Down Swingin'", "Johnny Mae", and "Gotta Move", supported by pianist Lafayette Leake, guitarist Eddie Taylor, and drummer Clifton James.
Etta James followed her two deeply jazzy mid-'90s albums of torch songs with Love's Been Rough on Me, a flirtation with Nashville writers. On Life, Love & the Blues, she returns to her blues and soul repertoire, enlivening even the hoariest of tunes ("Spoonful," a gender-flopped "Hoochie Coochie Gal") with her growl. The tinges of funk underpinning "Born Under a Bad Sign" are given full room to stretch on a cover of Sly Stone's "If You Want Me to Stay," and James nearly swipes "The Love You Save May Be Your Own," one of Joe Tex's great preaching ballads, from the master.
As the title suggests, this is the definitive edition of Etta James' Tell Mama long-player. For this single-disc release the original album is augmented with five previously unissued tracks – documented during James' four Muscle Shoals sessions circa '67-'68. The question of why a rural Alabama town became a conduit for some of the most memorable and instantly identifiable grooves may still be up for debate. The evidence exists in droves and Tell Mama could certainly be considered exhibit A. These sessions feature the same impact that would redirect several first ladies of soul. Notable among them are Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis, Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) and to somewhat lesser acclaim, Jackie DeShannon's Jackie. Tell Mama showcases some of the unique and admittedly darker qualities of what might best be described as R&B noir. "I'd Rather Go Blind," "Steal Away," "I'm Gonna Take What He's Got" all exemplify the essence of the blues – making the best of a bad situation.
While Jackson C. Frank’s eponymous 1965 album and other material has enjoyed numerous official and unofficial reissues, Jackson C Frank: The Complete Recordings is the first to compile his entire recording career. The Complete Recordings contains a total of 67 tracks, 24 of which have never appeared before. Every song has been mastered or remastered, a number of them straight from the original, brittle reel-to-reels on which they were originally laid down.