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Cobra Records Story, The
(Capricorn 42012-2 US-93 250:-)

Cobra Records was an upstart Chicago-based label that existed for a little over three years at the end of the 1950s, founded by Eli Toscano and Willie Dixon as competition for Phil and Leonard Chess's Chess Records, where Dixon had worked -- and been regularly cheated of fees and royalties -- since the end of the 1940s.

His answer was to leave the employ of the Chess brothers and go to work with Toscano, and the result was an almost "shadow" Chess label, jump-started by the likes of Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and Magic Sam, and filled out with Sunnyland Slim, Shakey Horton, Betty Everett, and Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm. They're all here, along with lesser known performers such as Louis Myers & the Aces, the Clouds, and Little Willie Foster, and there's not one cut on this set that's less than a first-rate, pounding, driving piece of electric Chicago blues.
K-Doe, Ernie - A Real Mother-in-Law for Ya
(Westside WESA-915 UK-02 275:-)

Since his big hit was "Mother-In-Law," a funny song that could easily be perceived as a novelty, Ernest Kador Jr is often dismissed when it comes to the top rank of New Orleans R&B singers. That's an inaccurate assessment, as this delightful compilation proves. Part of the reason, of course, is that these are the Toussaint sessions, and Allen Toussaint is the king of late-'50s and -'60s New Orleans R&B, not only writing classics like "Mother-in-Law," but producing sessions that had precisely the right combination of rolling rhythms, horns, mellow funk, pianos, and warm vocals from the friendly, skilled Ernie K-Doe. He didn't have as rich a selection of material as, say, Fats Domino or Lee Dorsey, but he was at the top tier of the second tier, as this compulsively listenable 29-track collection proves.
Muddy Waters - The Chess Box
(Chess CHD3-80002 US-89 300:-)

72 classic performances by perhaps the greatest bluesman ever! Covering a quarter century on Chess Records, the recordings are sequenced as recorded and are digitally remastered from the original masters or original Chess 78rpm singles.

Twenty-three of the tracks are rare, included 10 previously unreleased. Includes a 32 page booklet.
Smith, Bessie - Complete Recordings, vol 2
(Columbia C2K-47471 US-91 175:-)

Nicknamed the "Empress of the Blues", Bessie Smith was considered by many to be the greatest blues singer of all time. She was also a successful vaudeville entertainer who became the highest paid African-American performer of the roaring twenties.