Bongo Boy seem to be cornering two powerful markets of late. Firstly, through their widely broadcast TV shows, they are bringing back the early days of MTV for a modern audience. And then there is their exceptional range of compilation albums which, like the TV shows, bring together the great and good of the modern grassroots scene. Essentially, if you want to know who is going to be the next big thing, the artist who is going to move from the ranks of emerging artists into the world of the going concerns, you can guarentee that Bongo Boy Records or TV have already featured them. That’s how good they are at spotting a winner.
This album, as the name suggests, is all about the sound of blues and everything from more traditional styles to cutting-edge re-imaginations grace it. We kick off with Gar & Myke and a rootsy, rock ‘n’ roll take on the sound; guitars coil and spiral around, harmonicas wail, drums pound, close your eyes and you could be at a roadside bar alongside a lone and level road stretching far away, somewhere in the deep south of American. Authentic or what?
Some of the artists found here are already familiar to me, through their inclusion in previous compilations from the label, such as the Bible Belt Blues and their slinky and spacious Mighty Warriors For Christ, others are new, Big Bone Daddy’s Got It being a welcome inclusion for those who are fans of grooving R&B anthems. And that is what these albums are all about, a place to reacquaint yourself with old favourites and a place to check out the latest movers and shakers. The perfect blend of the fresh and the familiar, the known and the unknown, the pre-loved and new musical crushes to be had.
The fabulously named Sheba The Mississippi Queen offers us a glorious blues belter, her voice immediately taking us back down the years to a ’40’s Chicago blues club. Also wearing its nostalgic heart on its sleeve is Ann M. Wolf and her gorious rendition of gospel staple, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Gar Francis’ Champagne No Fizz is a modern, funky take on the genre and GURLIK’s Ending Blues is a wonderful smooth, blues-soul instrumental full of cascading piano lines and ascending dynamics.
It is safe to say that if you like your blues, this album has it all – traditional, experimental, down-home, leftfield, the sounds of past, present and future. No one now needs a crystal ball to see what the next break through artists are going to be, all you need to do is keep up with Bongo Boy Records (and indeed TV), they know the score.