Groove Jumping, album review: Up-tempo, high-octane stuff

A fine memorial to remastering expert Bob Jones

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Back in the Eighties the man to go to for remastering, the technological wizard who would make vintage rhythm and blues recordings from the 1950s sound as if they were recorded yesterday, was a certain Bob Jones. “Boppin’ Bob” as he was known had started as sound engineer for Decca before branching out as a freelance for several reissue companies.

He also formed his own record label and one of its first releases, now made available for the first time on CD, was this album compiled from material recorded for US RCA’s Groove subsidiary. As the title implies this is nearly all uptempo, high-octane stuff with blues acts utilising booting saxophones and nifty guitar licks to attract the black (and increasingly white) music fans who lapped these records up.

“Big” John Greer chomps his way through “Bottle It Up and Go” while the equally hefty “Tiny” Kennedy has a “Strange Kind of Feeling” about his baby, with some stellar guitar picking from studio stalwart Mickey Baker.  On the vocal group side, the wonderfully named Du Droppers rock their way through the less than subtle “Boot ’Em Up” while the better know Five Keys drop their normal ballad style for the sax-fuelled “Lawdy Miss Mary.

Elsewhere, Roy Gaines impresses with the “Worried ‘Bout You Baby” which, like all the tracks here,  includes the cream of New York session men, including Baker again on guitar and rock-solid backing of drummer Panama Francis.

Perhaps the most intriguing track is “Radar” by jazz horn player and arranger Mr Bear (Teddy McCrae), mid-tempo piece from 1955 which has the gravel-voiced McCrae talking about how the technological  advances of the day have affected his love life.

In a year or so, most of this material would be classed as rock’n’roll, but here’s a chance to hear it before it took flight. The remastering is obviously crystal clear and the only cavil may be that as a full-priced CD it’s a lot to pay for only 14 tracks. But for those who like it, two other R&B sets, “Still Groove Jumping” and  “The Best of Doo-Wop Classics Vol 2” plus two country albums, all originally released by Jones on his Detour label have been reissued as well.

They’re fine memorial to pioneering expert who died in 2009.