Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Roy Milton's Miltone label delighted both musically and visually

The British Acrobat label has been issuing a number of very intriguing public domain reissues of classic rhythm & blues, often focusing on a specific label. While these releases may duplicate reissues of various recordings, such reissues often have a lot of unfamiliar material. Also, the releases gather together a variety of material that ranges from blues to gospel quartet, vocal group, pop, swing jazz and more. I point to reissues from vintage labels as Trilon, Big Town, Olivet or Irma as examples.

One reissue of special note is of the Miltone label that the great Roy Milton was a co-owner of. The attractive labels often sported illustrations from cartoonist William "Alex" Alexander that made them a treasure trove for collectors. The label was centered on Roy Milton and His Solid Senders, one of the premier jump blues bands, but included a number of other terrific recordings. Like other Acrobat label reissues, this disc contains a detailed label history and artist notes from Opal Louis Nations as well as some terrific sounds. The liner booklet also contains plenty of label illustrations.

The set opens with four solo sides by The Blues Troubadour, Jesse Thomas, who had recorded for Victor in 1929. Thomas, from Shreveport Louisiana, superficially comes off as a country blues artist as a solo performer, but his dazzling single note guitar and bop-tinged vocals (the delightful D. Double Due Love You being one example), sound modern six decades later. Then there is Jimmy Grissom, the Mississippi born singer who fronted the Blenders and Miltone vocal groups as well as share solo spots with Camille Howard, Milton's featured pianist. One interesting single was Miltone 4001 which coupled You Look So Good To Me b/w The Signifying Monkey, two early Willie Dixon classics with the Big Three Trio. Some of the sides with The Blenders featured comedienne and singer Effie Smith who sang Answer to R.M.Blues, an answer song to one of Milton's biggest hits.

Of course there are a number of Milton's big hits like Milton's Boogie, Red Light, Sunny Side of the Street, and Rainy Day Confession Blues, although some of the transfers here are noisier than those reissued on Specialty. Other delights are five stunning vocals from Little Miss Cornshucks and a number of sides from New Orleans legends like Roy Brown, Paul Gayten and Annie Laurie. So included here is Chubby Newsome's Hip Shakin' Mama; Roy Brown's Long About Midnight; Paul Gayten's Hey Little Girl; and Paul Gayton with Annie Laurie doing the classic Since I Fell For You. Through in some down home blues by Wright Holmes, and blues shouting from The Great Gates, and one has a real fine sampling of late forties R&B with many terrific recordings.

This is available from various Internet retailers like bluebeatmusic.com or amazon.

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