various artists,
Night Train to Nashville:
Music City Rhythm & Blues
1945-1970, Vol. 2

(Universal Music, 2005)

Nashville is, for many, the home of country music. It is the capital of the industry and is awash with the finest players, songwriters and performers. The city has a diverse musical background, however, and it is that diversity that has led to its position as an epicentre.

In the decades following World War II, there developed a rich and vital rhythm and blues scene in the city. Covering the period 1945-70, Night Train to Nashville is a two-disc set, mixing well-known hits with rarities. The second volume of a two-volume release to coincide with an exhibition at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in 2004-05, the recordings here are superb and capture the mood of the era perfectly.

On the first CD, "Wail Daddy" by Charlie Dowell & Orchestra featuring Willie Lee Patton, from 1952, is a wonderfully orchestrated romp, with Patton's vocals soaring. Brilliant!

"No Better for You" by Gay Crosse & the Good Humor Six is a wonderful jazz/R&B hybrid and features a mean meandering saxophone solo by a young man by the name of John Coltrane. Coltrane was a member of Crosse's band at the time and featured on a number of Nashville R&B recordings. The Gladiolas' "Little Darlin'" shows brilliant vocal harmony arrangements and a memorable falsetto from Maurice Williams.

The second disc maintains the energy and zest of its counterpart. The CD begins with the legendary Dr. Feelgood and his exuberant signature tune, "Doctor Feelgood." One of the great barrelhouse piano players, the good doctor lists his interests in the fairer sex, and it's fantastic stuff.

The album closes with a real treat. The live bonus track "Lucky You" by the Imperials is a fascinating document in itself. Recorded at the New Era Club in 1962, this previously unreleased recording oozes the feel of scene. Jaw-dropping guitar work by George Yates and a driving, pulsating rhythm mark this a perfect parting shot for what is a truly awesome collection.

Filled with reality and life, this is pure artistry.

by Sean Walsh
29 July 2006

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