Liner Note Author: Ian Saddler.
Photographer: Carol Fran.
Ten volumes into their seemingly never-ending, always-excellent By the Bayou series, Ace returns to R&B for Mad Dogs, Sweet Daddies & Pretty Babies. Like nearly all of its predecessors, this is primarily archival -- i.e., there aren't a lot of familiar names, but there are acts that have popped up on previous Bayou installments because, at this point, it's been proven that the well is deep but not fathomless. Newly discovered cuts by unknowns can hardly be called "recycling," and this, like its cousins, is pretty close to straight-up aural dynamite. Most of these 28 tracks come from J.D. Miller's Crowley studio in Southern Louisiana, appearing on imprints like Flyright, Goldband, Zynn, and Rod in the late '50s and early '60s although this is also graced by some previously unreleased cuts and sides that popped up on previous archival comps. Some familiar rhythms and musical motifs pop up -- there are echoes of other, better-known New Orleans songs, not to mention two variations of Lester Roberts' hopping "Take It Home to Grandma" -- and there's a pretty wide variety of sounds here, too, ranging from the greasy blues of Lazy Lester and the zydeco of Clifton Chenier to rhumbas, piano boogies, relaxed shuffles, and hard-driving guitar blues. If there's not one song that delivers a full-fledged knock-out, there are no dogs in the bunch, either: it keeps the party cooking until the early hours and, and given the nine equally good discs which have preceded Mad Dogs, Sweet Daddies & Pretty Babies, that's pretty remarkable indeed. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine