Liner Note Author: Ian Saddler.
Photographer: Vicki Fox.
This 12th (!) installment of Ace's ongoing Rhythm 'n' Bluesin by the Bayou series springs to life with a rolling piano lifted from "Tipitina," but soon shifts the focus away from the rhythm and toward the vocal harmonies. Yes, this 28-track collection, digging out largely unheard highlights from the vaults of Southern Louisiana recordman J.D. Miller, shines a spotlight on the New Orleans equivalent of doo wop-street corner harmonies supported by greasier grooves. Sometimes, things do get pretty sweet and smooth -- that's standard for '50s vocal groups -- but the interesting cuts here walk a line between those supple harmonies and swinging R&B, a hybrid that isn't often heard among doo wop singles from the '50s and early '60s. This emphasis on harmonies means this volume of Rhythm 'n' Bluesin isn't as wooly and wild as others -- no matter how rollicking those beats are, the focus is always on the singers, which keeps the abandon in check -- but it's good to have it all on one disc, because this is a little-known area of Louisiana music history and the tracks play off of each other, revealing how sharp and creative many of these unknown (and sometimes uncredited) groups were. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine